The 3 Secrets of Workplace Productivity

Jake Phillpot

20 March 2014    |   

So I’ll tell you a little secret. Micromanagement sucks. But workplace productivity rules! Having an insipid, contemptuous, and overtly nosy corporate shill craning their necks over your shoulder in an attempt to “encourage” productivity will guarantee Lowered morale. Fortunately, there is a valid alternative. Thanks to the miracles of modern behavioural science, we can proclaim that human beings are fairly predictable. There are certain scenarios in which we are likely to thrive, and others in which we are sure to falter. For an entrepreneur running a small business, it’s absolutely imperative to cultivate an environment featuring more of the former. So what do your employees respond to? According to current psychological consensus, we are more likely to jump at opportunities that offer us chances to achieve great things upon our own initiative. In other words, we crave mastery and autonomy. 1. Mastery So how do you turn new hires into master employees? You can’t just throw an intern into deep waters and expect him/her to swim right off the bat, no more than you could throw an amateur boxer in against Floyd Mayweather. Both would instantly be overwhelmed. It’s important for workers to feel comfortable, but still challenged. Your job as a manager is to examine an employee’s strengths and weaknesses, then match them with an achievable yet demanding task. Said task should fit in with the ultimate goals of the company at large. Aligning a skill that your employees can master with the purpose that your company serves, will engender feelings of belonging. This leads to a tribe mentality that can unite the workforce in pursuit of something greater than self-interest. That does not mean, however that there is no place for self-interest in the equation. 2. Autonomy It’s not enough to just be a master, you want to be your own master: a self-directed dynamo, capable of manipulating your environment and bending it to your will. The same is true for your employees. They don’t need an overseer. They need a collaborator. As a manager, you may think your job is to tell everyone what to do. You’re wrong. Your vocation is to teach employees never to come to you with only problems and no solutions. You’ve got to allow your employees the freedom to come up with their own remedies, and the trust to administer them with whatever methodology they see fit. 3. Incentives People are intrinsically motivated to a powerful degree. It’s true that fiscal incentives can determine behaviour also. You do have to reward your employees for good work. The freedom to act and excel will only go so far if there are bills to be paid. So the obvious solution is to enact both incentives in circumstances suitable to each. The trick is recognizing what actions are compatible with monetary incentives, and which are best served through the intrinsic worth an employee might place upon them. The rule of thumb is to correlate the goal with the incentive. If you’re looking for compliance, adherence to a set of behaviors that will result in success, monetary rewards are the way to go. If you’re looking for creativity, an innovative approach to a situation, then giving the employee freedom is your best bet. Furthermore, you want to judge your approach on an individual basis. Get to know your employees and learn their habits. This is another avenue in which offering autonomy will help. If your employees view management as collaborators rather than overseers, you’re at least twice as likely to be able to get to know them on a personal level. This is part of an ongoing series by Tanda to help business owners do better business. Tanda’s mission is to make it easier for employers to create jobs and manage staff. We do this by helping managers understand and reduce staff costs. Our product features include rostering, time-clocks and award interpretation.

So I’ll tell you a little secret. Micromanagement sucks. But workplace productivity rules! Having an insipid, contemptuous, and overtly nosy corporate shill craning their necks over your shoulder in an attempt to “encourage” productivity will guarantee Lowered morale.

Fortunately, there is a valid alternative.

Thanks to the miracles of modern behavioural science, we can proclaim that human beings are fairly predictable. There are certain scenarios in which we are likely to thrive, and others in which we are sure to falter. For an entrepreneur running a small business, it’s absolutely imperative to cultivate an environment featuring more of the former.

So what do your employees respond to?

According to current psychological consensus, we are more likely to jump at opportunities that offer us chances to achieve great things upon our own initiative.

In other words, we crave mastery and autonomy.

1. Mastery

So how do you turn new hires into master employees? You can’t just throw an intern into deep waters and expect him/her to swim right off the bat, no more than you could throw an amateur boxer in against Floyd Mayweather. Both would instantly be overwhelmed.

It’s important for workers to feel comfortable, but still challenged. Your job as a manager is to examine an employee’s strengths and weaknesses, then match them with an achievable yet demanding task. Said task should fit in with the ultimate goals of the company at large.

Aligning a skill that your employees can master with the purpose that your company serves, will engender feelings of belonging. This leads to a tribe mentality that can unite the workforce in pursuit of something greater than self-interest.

That does not mean, however that there is no place for self-interest in the equation.

2. Autonomy

It’s not enough to just be a master, you want to be your own master: a self-directed dynamo, capable of manipulating your environment and bending it to your will. The same is true for your employees.

They don’t need an overseer. They need a collaborator. As a manager, you may think your job is to tell everyone what to do.

You’re wrong.

Your vocation is to teach employees never to come to you with only problems and no solutions. You’ve got to allow your employees the freedom to come up with their own remedies, and the trust to administer them with whatever methodology they see fit.

3. Incentives

People are intrinsically motivated to a powerful degree. It’s true that fiscal incentives can determine behaviour also. You do have to reward your employees for good work. The freedom to act and excel will only go so far if there are bills to be paid.

So the obvious solution is to enact both incentives in circumstances suitable to each.

The trick is recognizing what actions are compatible with monetary incentives, and which are best served through the intrinsic worth an employee might place upon them. The rule of thumb is to correlate the goal with the incentive.

If you’re looking for compliance, adherence to a set of behaviors that will result in success, monetary rewards are the way to go.

If you’re looking for creativity, an innovative approach to a situation, then giving the employee freedom is your best bet.

Furthermore, you want to judge your approach on an individual basis. Get to know your employees and learn their habits. This is another avenue in which offering autonomy will help. If your employees view management as collaborators rather than overseers, you’re at least twice as likely to be able to get to know them on a personal level.

This is part of an ongoing series by Tanda to help business owners do better business. Tanda’s mission is to make it easier for employers to create jobs and manage staff. We do this by helping managers understand and reduce staff costs. Our product features include rostering, time-clocks and award interpretation.

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Public Service Announcement: Fair Work Crackdown

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Industry Insights    |   

The (True) Cost of Winning

On 12 July 2017, the Queensland Maroons whopped the NSW Blues 22-6 at this year’s State Of Origin series decider. It was attended by 52,540 screaming supporters at Suncorp Stadium and watched by millions more on the TV.  It was a game for the ages, featuring rookie Valentine Homes’s hat trick and Cameron Smith’s Man of the Match Performance. The night may well be talked about for weeks, months, even years to come. However, the morning after also merits conversation. We collected employee attendance data on the morning after, analysing employees’ punctuality for approximately 4000 shifts. We looked at the clock in activities starting at 4 AM until midday of the Thursday after the State of Origin decider. It yielded some not so surprising results. 22.43% of Queenslanders were late the morning after the match. In contrast, only 20.48% of employees from the rest of the country clocked in past the start of their shifts. This was a 20% jump from the norm. The past three Thursdays before the decider, QLD only had 18.68% Queenslanders clocked in a little late. While maybe not entirely scientific, it is easy to see how significant cultural events can have an impact on productivity. In a US context,  Chicago-based Challenger Gray & Christmas predicted that Super Bowl LI cost American businesses USD 1.7 billion in productivity losses. It goes without saying that Queenslanders paid the price, both on and off the pitch, to win this year’s State of Origin. We tend to think it was worth it.

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About the author

Jake Phillpot

Director: Jake manages Tanda's end-to-end customer journey and market growth.

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The recent spate of Fair Work crackdowns has increased concern for small business owners, as the severity and prevalence of non-compliance and underpayment continues to increase. Fair Work recently imposed a $143,000 penalty against a Brisbane Business Owner and his former internal Payroll and Account Manager, after it was uncovered that they had deliberately underpaid […]

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On 12 July 2017, the Queensland Maroons whopped the NSW Blues 22-6 at this year’s State Of Origin series decider. It was attended by 52,540 screaming supporters at Suncorp Stadium and watched by millions more on the TV.  It was a game for the ages, featuring rookie Valentine Homes’s hat trick and Cameron Smith’s Man […]

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