A Primer for Driving Employee Productivity

primer-for-employee-productivityUnlike politics and religion, I think everyone here can agree on one thing … it’s important to measure and improve employee productivity.  

As most of you already know, this is easier said than done because it’s really (really) hard to create, implement, and champion a system across a team -- let alone an entire organization. Hopefully this post will serve as a valuable primer to help you either implement a new system or improve one already in place.

Why am I talking about employee productivity?  

I help organizations sell more stuff. To be more specific, I set them up with software that increases CRM utilization, drives employee productivity, and enhances company culture. This process generally consists of 1) helping management benchmark employees based on their functional roles, and 2) setting up gamification to drive sustainable results. It’s awesome.  

In repeating this process across organizations small and large, rational and … typical, I’ve come to understand how good companies become great when it comes to productivity.  

Now, a truth: You cannot manage what you cannot measure.

Measurement is the foundation of productivity. Everything starts here. And the more data you capture, the better. Organizations that track productivity across email servers, phone systems, and CRMs are winning. Organizations that measure metrics from cold calls to follow-up emails to deals closed are winning.  

Football comes down to a game of inches, productivity comes down to a game of activity.  

It should be stated here that manual data entry is both mind-numbing and a momentum killer … it’s 2014 and efficiency is of the essence. Check out products like Zapier and HubSpot Sales to increase the likelihood of your new initiative’s success.  

The 4 Pillars of Productivity Success  

  1. Daily > Weekly > Monthly. Most organizations need to start measuring, benchmarking, and coaching daily behavior. Why wait until Friday to make adjustments? Sure, your sales reps might cover their quota at the last minute, but rolling the dice catches up with you.
  2. Team-based Competition. There’s no better long-term motivation than working towards a common goal within a tribe. On a more tangible note, employees pushing each other is much more scalable than you driving everybody.
  3. Recognize Consistent Performance. Everybody has good days and bad days. Some inherit cash-cow accounts, most don’t. Rewarding the consistent employees who manage their pipeline will pay off enormous long-term dividends.
  4. Managers Have to Become Coaches. It’s no longer enough to email out spreadsheets -- management must find and address the inflection points occurring every single day. Use your newfound data not as a weapon but a playbook.  

The Gotchas

  • Avoid paralysis by analysis. The dangerous thing about collecting data is that it’s easy to get lost in it … start by focusing on a couple actionable metrics and scale out slowly because going overboard too soon will bog down the entire effort.
  • Employees are more than benchmarks and quotas, be careful not to forget this in your quest for data-driven productivity. You get the best out of people when you actually treat them like people.
  • If you’re working to overhaul a legacy system, you have a long road ahead of you; but it can be done and it will be worth it. Focus on piloting with a small group of employees and document everything for an internal case study. When you can provide the implementation playbook, lessons learned, and positive results you will win over the “but this is how we’ve always done it”s.  

The Good News  

There are now solutions available that address everything I have summarized above. I can think of one in particular but be forewarned it’s built for the Ambitious.  

Incentives have never been more aligned. As you all are (begrudgingly?) aware, millennials are beginning to take over the workforce. In 10 years they’ll count for 3 out of every 4 employees. This is the first generation to grow up with the internet and as such they expect interactive, real-time feedback. Unlike their more coin-operated predecessors, they actually want these systems in place.  

The Great News  

Sustainable, double-digit growth is achievable and your job will get easier. Stay tuned for subsequent posts detailing how to architect long-term success plans and establish meaningful metrics.