A big part of being awesome in the workplace is being highly productive. Any time we can get more done in the same amount of time means greater profitability for you personally and the company you work for. Since profitability is ultimately what business is about, increased productivity is a big focus for any organization. But sometimes the increased productivity isn’t worth it. Below we’ll look at some of the possible productivity pitfalls and how to avoid them.
A Recent Reminder
In my non-work life I recently took on the project of building a dining room table. When I was getting started I went to the local gigantic hardware chain store (since most of their competition has now disappeared) to get the supplies I needed. After spending what seemed like an eternity picking wood under fluorescent lights, all that was left was to buy stain and urethane. Since these final stages are my least favorite part of this type of project my exhausted self was thrilled to find a one-step product that stained and urethaned at the same time.
At first glance this increase in productivity seemed like a great idea; the amount of time I would spend with a paint brush in my hand would be cut in half. Well, as those of you who know anything about stain may have already guessed, the results were less than favorable. The table that I’d spent many hours working on (and was very happy with before staining) now looked rather ugly, and I ended up spending a lot more time fixing the mess than I had saved in the first place.
The point of that story is that it reminded to me of how important it is to carefully consider the implications of my productivity-increasing choices. Below are four areas to consider when boosting productivity. If you can implement the idea without negatively affecting any of the areas below, then it’s probably safe.
Criteria 1: The Finished Product
How will an increase in productivity affect the final product (the product and/or service that your business offers)? If there is a chance that it will cause even a slight reduction in quality it may not be worth it. This is where I fell short in the example above; in my haste I didn’t stop to ask myself if it might affect the end product.
Criteria 2: Customer Satisfaction
No matter what business you’re in, customer satisfaction is vital to success. Happy customers are repeat customers (and it’s way cheaper and easier to sell more to existing customers than to try to find new customers). Happy customers also refer new business (by far the cheapest way to grow your customer base). In short, keeping you customers happy is almost priceless, so it’s always smart to steer clear of increasing productivity at the expense of customer satisfaction.
Criteria 3: Your Reputation
The reputation of your business is more critical than most people realize. If you don’t believe me, just ask Coca-Cola; it’s estimated that more than 50% of their sales are based on the strength of their brand name. The value of your reputation is hard to measure, but for most businesses a damaged reputation can be very costly. With any business decision, not just those related to productivity, it’s good to ask yourself “does this support, or hurt, our reputation?”
Criteria 4: Downstream Workflow
In many cases, increased productivity in one area can mean more work down the road, or more work for other people in your organization. These situations aren’t always obvious, so taking time to think about all the downstream implications can help you sidestep problems.
It’s also worth considering the need for versatility and extendability in your situation. Often the fastest option is also the most limiting. Taking a little extra time in the beginning of a project to build versatility into it can save redoing the whole thing later when circumstances change.
Tell Us Your Story
Have you been in a situation where your increased productivity wasn’t worth it? Post a comment below to share.
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