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The Challenge For Managers When Introducing a Productivity Improvement Program

The Challenge For Managers When Introducing a Productivity Improvement Program

Improving productivity in the workplace is a significant value to senior management. However just communicating the need for improving productivity will not motivate staff members to change their behavior. The reason for this is that the things that are of significance to management are not the things that are significant to the staff member.

In an interesting survey, 800 workers were interviewed and asked to rank their values. The results were:

1. Training and personal development

2. Increased input to their job

3. Promotions

4. Pay increases

5. More communication with immediate supervisor

As managers, we must be aware that the basis of our communication must be the values of the people with whom we want to communicate. It is absolutely pointless basing our communication on values which are irrelevant to the people we are addressing.

We tend to communicate the values of the senior people in the organisation. Of course it is totally logical and worthwhile to them because they support and live those values. However, these values are not going to appeal to people who respect different values. Why should they change their behavior because of someone’s values which do not make sense to them?

Many companies throughout the Western world have conducted employee surveys. The results are broadly the same.

1. People want personal, face-to-face communication. Of lesser importance are notices, memos and videos.

2. Their immediate supervisor is the most trusted source of information. Trusted more than their Union representatives or more remote management.

3. The most valuable information concerns plans for their immediate workplace environment and the way that tasks are performed.

The challenge for the manager who wants to improve workplace productivity is how will he or she get the message across and be certain that it is understood. The answer seems to be that issues surrounding their local workplace (self interest) are much more important and relevant than issues concerning the wider organisation.

The reason for this is simple. The individual on the shop floor can only make decisions about their own behaviour. Consequently, the areas of greatest interest to them are going to be narrow and relate to their environment and their job. The wider issues are much less interesting or relevant.

The challenge lies not in the method of communication, but in the content of the communication. This means that all the content must address the self interest of the workers. They must be given relevant reasons why they should be doing things differently. The reasons should not be reasons that make sense to senior management but reasons that make sense to the people who you want to change their behavior.

This emphasises the need to plan the implementation and the communication of a productivity improvement program. The skills of the managers and supervisors are critical to the success of the program. If the introduction and the initial communications fail to address the issues which are relevant to the workforce, the whole program has little chance of fulfilling its potential.

The workforce cares about their issues first before the issues of the business.