Sunday, January 15, 2020

Productivity with Humanity

Businesses constantly seek greater profit and hope achieve it through increasing productivity. That's how life is. Fine words won't change the process. But must it be as unfriendly to employees? Recent research from ISR, an international employee research and consulting firm, shows:
US companies are perceived as being responsible for an increasingly poor work-life balance for employees, putting their workers at risk of burnout, even while a stronger economy enables greater corporate growth levels. These perceptions are supported by ISR survey findings from 2002 through 2005 which reveal a significant decrease in the percentage of employees reporting that they are able to balance their work and personal demands.
I don't believe business leaders intend to create workplaces that are filled with harassed, overworked people. They don't wake up one morning and think: "Let's make all our executives work a 90-hour week." The pressures and tensions that crush the pleasure out of jobs are a by-product of that central search for productivity and profit. Christina Maskach, writing on Sep 1, 2020 in Psychology Today reported:
Statistical analysis of [our] surveys [taken over 20 years] led us to conclude that burnout is not a problem of people but mostly of the places in which they work. When the workplace does not recognize the human side of work or demands superhuman efforts, people feel overloaded, frustrated and well, burned out. Self-improvement alone will not beat it.
Here's Jack Welch, former head of GE, writing in Newsweek on April 4th, 2005:
And over the past three years, I've heard from many people—bosses and employees—about the complex issue of work-life balance. I have a sense of how bosses think about the issue, whether they tell you or not. You may not like their perspective, but you have to face it. There's lip service about work-life balance, and then there's reality. To make the choices and take the actions that ultimately make sense for you, you need to understand that reality: your boss's top priority is competitiveness. Of course he wants you to be happy, but only inasmuch as it helps the company win.
Slow Leadership aims to be different. Practicing a Slow Leadership approach will, I believe, increase productivity, even as it provides a more humane and satisfying way to work. Here's why:
  • Rushed, harassed and overwhelmed people are less productive. They make more mistakes and miss more opportunities. The result is waste—the enemy of productivity and quality.

  • Busyness should not be confused with effectiveness. People are often busy working on activities that produce no value. The result is lost time and actions with no profit potential.

  • Time spent on planning ahead, checking important details or applying creative thinking means jobs are done faster and more effectively.

  • Overwhelmed people are liable to overreact when facing unexpected difficulties. Sometimes they rush into ill-considered choices; sometimes they give up and wait for instructions. Either action reduces effectiveness.

  • Too many distractions ruin concentration and destroy clear thinking. That means more mistakes, more reworking and more wasted time and money, all of which undermine productivity.

  • Under pressure, people choose the most obvious, immediate course of action and hurry on to something else. They sacrifice long-term gains for short-term relief. That's like selling your house to the first person who makes an offer, no matter how low, to avoid the hassle of showing it to others.
Slow Leaders practice more humane, less pressured ways of running their operations. The result is to increase productivity, not lower it. They aim to eliminate waste of every kind, not just costs: wasted time, wasted effort, wasted attention, wasted energy and wasted resources. By slowing down, they have time to see what needs doing, and cut out most of the reworking and time spent going down dead-end roads. The by-product of this approach is an organization that encourages more humane and satisfying approaches to work. People enjoy their work more. They're happier and more creative. Their health improves and less time is lost to sicknesses caused by stress.

The result is … greater productivity.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be exploring what I call the Five Pillars of Slow Leadership. All offer essential, practical ways to boost productivity, lessen waste and, at the same time, create a more humane environment:
  • Calmness: Slowing down and avoiding rushed, emotional mistakes.

  • Clarity: Taking the time to work out specific answers to your problems.

  • Concentration: Focusing on what matters most and avoiding distractions.

  • Patience: Allowing events time to unfold fully.

  • Respect: Giving people the time and attention they need to do their jobs effectively.
Slow Leadership produces work that's inherently more interesting, more satisfying and better for everyone concerned. Productivity will increase too.

Why would you choose any other way?

Add to Technorati Favorites Stumble Upon Toolbar


Jeremy Price said...

I read this post in the same sitting as Creating Passionate Users' REAL motivation posters. It seems that in some ways there is overlap with the sentiments encapsulated in the humorous posters and your Pillars of Slow Leadership, especially with your Clarity and Respect pillars. What better way to provide clarity and respect than to be completely honest?

Thanks for your useful insights and perspectives.

10:43 AM  
Carmine Coyote said...

Thanks, Jeremy. I saw Kathy's posting as well and thought the REAL motivation posters funny and wise too.

I'm glad you like this site.

10:58 AM  
James Shewmaker said...

This article "seeded" to the webpage and added to the reading assignment feed for

11:38 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.