Your assistant is constantly calling in sick. Your technician seems to always be on smoke breaks. You sit in your cube gnashing your teeth frustrated because your project is going nowhere. The folks at your team meetings are passive. Disengaged. Ambivalent. There is no action. Just excuses.
It’s frustrating…isn’t it?
I have to say I stumbled on an absolutely engaging program from Franklin Covey called 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity. I facilitated this workshop a little over a month ago and we had the 5 week follow up this week. I thought the materials for the class were good but I didn’t realize how good. The rag tag team of 14 participants went from being in the 64th percentile in productivity and sky rocketed up to the 94th percentile 4 weeks after the class. That’s almost a 50 percent improvement in productivity. 50%!
Whoa. That’s incredible. Imagine what you can do with 50% more productivity. Heck, I would have been happy with 10%. That’s a lot more widgets on the sales floor. That’s a lot more customer satisfaction. And, most importantly, that’s a lot more happy engaged employees doing a good job.
So this is my take on how to reignite your employees:
1. Discern the difference between what is important versus merely urgent. Several participants said that this was a game changer. They suddenly realized that some of their actions, like quickly responding to emails ended up making them a sort of scapegoat. So the slacker coworker would call on them for help because they would respond so promptly. By being able to discern that responding quickly was taking them away from their important Quadrant 2 work and instead, spending valuable time on someone else’s frivolous Quadrant 3 distractions. When you start dedicating time to the work that is most important, everyone benefits (even the slacker if you show them how to fish). There is more meaning and satisfaction as well.
2. Don’t settle for ordinary. It may be the path of least resistance but settling for ordinary isn’t inspiring. Who wants to wake up and say, “Hey, let’s have a status quo day. Let’s not have an impact.” The benefit of this class is that the participants worked on what’s important. What is the role I want to be? Do I want to be a “spouse” or do I want to be “Kevin’s best friend”? Which do you find more inspiring? One participant decided to ditch his recliner to sit next to his pregnant wife on the sofa in the evenings. That is life changing. That is extraordinary.
3. Decide on your big rocks and give up on sorting gravel. This training has some great videos from experts like psychiatrist Dr. Hallowell, who says that when you are consistently being bombarded with constant notifications and information, you are basically firing off your fight or flight response constantly. Toxic stress is the new normal. What the participants found was that when they identified their “big rocks” or important goals and roles, it was much easier to skip the gravel. When you schedule your life with those things that are most important first, the rest seems to slide away. Several participants had scheduled working out. The impact? They said that they used to dread coming to work because of all the stress. Now that they were working out every morning, they looked forward to work. A complete flip. The engaged workforce.
4. Be the ruler of your technology. This is all about ruling your inbox. One participant said they had set up 60 rules to handle email whether it be spam, automatically forwarding messages (yes, you can do that in Outlook) and highlighting messages from important folks like your boss. Dropping emails into tasks or calendar appointments make sure that the important stuff doesn’t get lost. This was by far the area where most folks found the most saving and efficiency.
5. Fuel your fire so you don’t burn out. Several participants selected one of their important roles to be themselves. Wow. When was the last time a corporate training told you to take care of yourself first? At least a third of the class had started working with a personal trainer since taking the class. Several worked to improve their sleep. I know you might be skeptical. Why should an employer espouse self-care? Because the end result is more productive, happier employees.
I have to qualify that this group of participants were free to choose to take this class. Mandates on changes in behavior are not as effective as those who choose of their own free will. Productivity is a very personal decision. Make sure you give your employees the opportunity to choose to be reignited.