How can we improve personal productivity? This question of productivity has been a big one and under consideration for a very long time. The importance of this question lies in the direct impact that productivity has on the bottom line of any organization. When approached objectively, productivity is nothing more than efficiency in managing ourselves. However, since most of us struggle to reach our optimal productivity levels, the question becomes even more pertinent. Amongst other things, a number of studies and management theories have tried to decode the theory of productivity. One thing that clearly emerged from most of the studies, be it the management theories of Abraham Maslow, Douglas McGregor, William Ouchi and the most popular and widely quoted The Hawthorne Study, is that there is a clear correlation between human psychology and personal productivity.
The Hawthorne effect was first noticed in the 1920s at the Western Electric Company’s Hawthorne Works, where it gets its name from. The studies were conducted in an effort to identify methods to increase employee productivity. During the course of the research a number of factors were taken under consideration. Workplace environment, leadership, group dynamics, working hours – all were studied to decide the impact of human psychology on employee productivity. In the workplace, the Hawthorne Study showed that, the more attention employees received from managers, co-workers or customers, the higher the level of effort and productivity.
Though this study was conducted in the early 1900s, it still finds enough relevance today and is considered vital in team management. The workplace, which can be considered a social system, thrives when it gets the right positive attention. Managers can help employees to considerably increase their work efficiency and work output by positively helping them identify the productivity gaps and also by recognizing and rewarding employee accomplishments. Since these gestures provide an enhanced sense of self value, they prove to be immensely motivational when individuals and teams are looking at improving productivity levels at work.
In order to provide positive reinforcement to bolster productivity, managers need to be empowered with factual inputs generated directly from employee work patterns. With the help of technology, managers today can not only identify productivity gaps, but can also help the employee realize the reason for this gap and help them with the right guidance and support. Managers also need to make a correct assessment of the resource allocation in order to ensure that the work allocation is just and that the cause for low productivity is not employee efficiency but incorrect effort estimates. Using this proactive approach helps employees and teams become more receptive towards feedback since they are based on objective facts and not perceived assumptions and helps in building a happier and more mindful workforce.