3 Ways to Optimize Productivity in Fragmented Workplaces

With fast-changing markets, fragmented teams, and unprecedented business disruption, so how can new work management approaches help leaders optimize productivity on the right work?

Productivity has long been a central measure of business success. Now, as the world faces challenges and disruptions associated with a global pandemic, priorities and success criteria have shifted.

Looking after the wellbeing of ourselves, our families, and our colleagues comes before everything else. But as we all adjust to life working from home, one of the things keeping business leaders awake at night is how to keep their fragmented teams productive on the right work.

So let’s look at what does productivity look like today?

In the current environment, we need to rethink what we mean by productivity. Leaders need to appreciate that employees working from home now have other demands on their time, whether homeschooling their children or caring for at-risk relatives. Productivity in our new world of work means keeping physically isolated individuals focused on the right work, in the time they have available. It’s about prioritizing work and being able to adapt to changes on the fly. So here the top 3 ways to optimize productivity!

1. Agility

More than anything else, the digital age requires businesses to be operationally agile. Even before the COVID-19 crisis, businesses were up against more change and disruption in markets than ever before. Such a disruptive environment means companies need to be able to respond quickly to changing priorities and demands. The ability to work quickly and ensure you’re focusing on the right activities at the right time is particularly important now that employees are juggling work commitments around personal and family priorities. Agility demands capacity, flexibility, and velocity. Businesses need to have sufficient capacity in terms of resources and expertise to complete the work they need to do. They also need sufficient flexibility in systems, processes, and technology to enable a rapid response to changing priorities. And they need to be able to work at sufficient velocity to switch between priorities and get tasks completed on time.

2. Autonomy

To achieve such operational agility, employees need autonomy. It’s important to think about how people want to work and to let them get work done in their own way. By enabling people to be masters of their own domains, you give them the confidence to work freely and productively. Such empowerment needs to be supported by the right information, customizable technology, and clear leadership. Any technology chosen needs to be easy for everyone in your organization to use in their roles. We use Visuant to drive our business and global customers!

3. Alignment

If people are working autonomously, you need to have checks and structures in place to ensure they work in a way that is aligned with your company strategy, departmental goals, compliance requirements, and other business imperatives. Alignment is all about transparency, ensuring people can see how their own work connects to your company goals. Using IT solutions that enable cross-departmental visibility throughout the organization will allow employees (wherever they are working) to see how their work connects to company objectives and impacts results.

So in today’s fast-changing and fragmented world of work. Striking the right balance between these three interdependent attributes above is the key to overcoming operational friction that can slow growth, hinder transformation initiatives, and stall productivity.

Looking for an easy to use management tool, which consolidates all your data into one location and provides you with dynamic dashboards? Check out Visuant® Business Performance Software here.

Michael C. Watkins Jr., Sr. Director of Info Technology, Competitive Solutions, Inc.

The Beauty of Change

It is in times like these that I am reminded of the definition of change; to make or become different.  And I think that sounds beautiful, inspiring and even exciting! 

The reality is, as exciting and beautiful as a change can be, it can also be hard, disruptive and unwanted.  To make or become different requires an ending to what is today, a new beginning for tomorrow, and a transition process for what is to become. 

Tips on transition management.

  • Identify what you can control and focus on that
  • Feel your emotions
  • Engage in a visioning activity for the future
  • Seek information and engage in intentional communication
  • Experiment with new ways of working, thinking and connecting
  • Learn something new
  • Embrace the power of positivity
  • Take one action every day in support of your new beginning

What is one thing that would you like to change in your life? 

How are you transitioning through change? 

We would love to hear you have embraced these tips within your work and life as you create something different.

Everybody has the capacity for change, it is the journey of the transition that is the struggle.

Patricia Crabtree Votino, Director of Leadership Development, Coaching and Consulting Services at Competitive Solutions, Inc.

 

Working Remotely During Challenging Times

From stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and face masks at the grocery store, who would have thought just two (2) short months ago, our world would change so drastically!

One the biggest challenges I hear from friends and colleagues is how they can effectively work remote, stay engaged with their teams, while balancing the demands of the family. With so many balls in the air, it can be very distracting and challenging to focus on what is important to your business life.

Here are some things that I find beneficial for success:

Communication – While such a simple thing, communication is even more important in today’s new dynamic. Without that ‘face time’, the opportunities for your staff to proceed down an unproductive path, churn or disengage are high. The old adage ‘out of sight – out of mind’ comes to mind after hearing so many different stories recently.

To help overcome this, setup daily ‘checkpoints’ with your staff. While you do not want to become intrusive or perceived as ‘micro-managing’, checkpoints are a great way to connect. And these just don’t have to be business calls! Spending a few minutes to see how everyone is doing. This helps keep people motivated and engaged.

Accountability & Expectations – Based upon many different studies over the years, this was one of the biggest challenges, even before COVID-19. Employees want to understand what is expected of them and how their role connects to the larger picture of business success, but without clear expectations they often feel lost and disconnected.

Spend the time outlining clear expectations of the people working remotely. Whether it be clearly describing the task required or outlining the specific deliverable dates, let your staff know your expectations. Implementing a visible action register is one great way to accomplish this.

Metrics – With many of us working remotely, leaders today struggle on how to maintain the focus on what is most important. This is especially true with leaders that attempt to ‘measure everything’ or use Excel spreadsheets that lose data integrity because they get emailed around.

Narrow the focus of the metrics you measure to those that truly matter and move the business forward. Implement a meeting process that reviews your scorecards on a more regular basis. The goal here is provide the information in a timely matter that helps your business react and adjust to these unprecedented changing market demands.

Remember, in many cases your staff can no longer walk down the hall to ask the questions. They are expecting you to provide an environment where they can feel and be successful!

Paul Campbell, Senior Vice President, Competitive Solutions, Inc

9 Tips to Maximize Productivity at Your Home Office Workspace

Whether you have realized your dream of working from home or found yourself caught up in a quarantine or shelter in place directive, setting up a workspace in your home, can be a challenge. Regardless of how your new workspace came to be, it is important to create a space that maximizes productivity through process and physical conditions.  

Tips for Creating a Productive Home Work Environment

  1. Clear the clutter -a cluttered desk is a cluttered mind. Make sure everything has a place and begin and end each day with a clean workspace. 
  2. Place something in your workspace that brings you joy -this could be an object, a painting, or a plant. Choose something that might bring back a memory, spark creativity, or just serve to bring a sense of calm. 
  3. Let light in -choose a space with ample light and whenever possible opt for natural light.
  4. Establish physical boundaries -a room with a door works best if possible. This will establish a physical boundary if other individuals are home and provide privacy for phone calls and remote meetings. 
  5. Keep a dedicated workspace -don’t leave work items all over the house. This will avoid misplacement and accidental use by another person in your home. 
  6. Check in with your senses -hearing, smell, sight, touch, and taste. Eliminate distracting noises, consider soothing background music or white noise.  Is your office space appealing to your sense of smell, sight, and touch; Is your chair comfortable?  Ensure you take a break to enjoy your café (kitchen); take the time to make a healthy lunch and enjoy it in another part of the house.  This will give you the mental break to re-engage.
  7. Ask yourself, do I have the right tools to do my job? – if the tools provided are not working for you, change them up and explore other options. What worked for an occasional Friday working from home, may not work now that your workspace is at home full-time. 
  8. Engage with others – check in with others, visually whenever possible. You still need to build and maintain work relationships.  Consider scheduling a virtual lunch or coffee break. 
  9. Establish your working hours and stick to them – this is important for both you and the other people in your house. This will cause less interruptions in the long run, if others know your work hours and can rely on you to keep them.  It is also good for us in general to take time away to focus on other things and reenergize ourselves; whether this be a game with your child, some exercise, or reading a book, it is important to take time out. 

What in your work environment would you change to increase productivity?

Tonda Tan, Business Proces Consultant/Coach at Competitve Solutions, Inc.

Do you want to increase employee engagement and ownership in your organization?

One of the challenges Plant Managers face is to how to connect employees to the business so they can see how they impact the overall performance.
 
Visuant®, built especially for manufacturing plants, is a simple and inexpensive software tool that gives leaders a detailed look at their entire business.   Visuant® can quickly aggregate data, show where the “hot spots” are and where to focus your attention.
 
Dynamic charts, graphs and dashboards provide the data to answer the question “Are we winning or losing?”
 
Teams are required to take action against underperforming metrics to demonstrate accountability and engagement.
 
No other manufacturing software links corrective actions to red metrics.
 
Organizations such as 3M, Rust-oleum, Rockline Industries use Visuant® for daily and weekly operations.
 
If you are interested in making your organizational data visual, holding employees accountable and driving better business results, we recommend a 20-minute web demo to see how Visuant® can improve your organization. Learn more here.
 
Schedule a demo here
 

Altruistic Leadership

To all those altruistic leaders out there putting the well-being of others above your own, we thank you!

It is often in times of crisis where we see the best of the human spirit shine through, lending a helping hand, displaying empathy for loss, or offering a friendly smile that offers reassurance or joy. 

Over the past few months, I have observed the selfless service demonstrated from first responders, nurses, doctors, and scientists who are on the front-line of defense where uncertainty abounds.  I have seen the resiliency of small business owners trying to figure out how to serve their customers, community and employees.  I have watched federal, state, and local government attempt to meet our most basic physiological and safety needs through public policy.  I have experienced first-hand the challenges of virtual education and the amazing job our educators do in caring for the whole child.  And I have benefited every day from all of you who show up at essential jobs to ensure we have enough food and supplies to continue with life and maintain a sense of normalcy.  Showing up, getting in the arena and serving selflessly are the hallmarks of a true leader.  I am inspired by the level of altruistic leadership on display as I see individuals around the world embracing their calling and living their purpose; to heal, to help, to teach, to comfort, to feed, to provide, to protect, to entertain, to serve. 

We see you.  We thank you.   

We recognize your sacrifice and appreciate your decision to embrace your calling and serve. 

Leadership thought for today….

Have you discovered your calling(purpose)? 

How might you demonstrate altruistic leadership in your community and organization?

Patricia Crabtree Votino, Director of Leadership Development, Competitive Solutions, Inc

Creative Ideas to Stay Connected to Your Team

Now that many of us have been working from home for awhile, we’ve seen lots of creative ideas emerge to help teams stay connected while socially distancing. We reached out to some of our Competitive Solutions clients and have discovered some fun ways to engage during these unprecented times. 

Video conferences have become a new normal for getting business accomplished, but also for connecting personally. Here are some fun things to do on your next Zoom team meeting:

1. Home Scavenger Hunt

2. Guess the Emoji

3. Bingo with Prizes

4. Coffee Hour

5. Virtual Happy Hour with a Best Cocktail Recipe Contest

6. Video Stretch Break or “Fitness Friday” with a team member giving tips on how to stretch, take breaks, and move while working from home.

7. “Fancy Friday” versus Casual Friday where everyone dresses up for the day or at least half dressed up…like wearing tuxedo shirts and jackets that were visible while sporting sweat pants below!

In addition to Zoom Call fun we have seen lots of hidden talents emerge. One being the artistic talent of Scott Favreau’s wife Amy. Scott is a business process consultant for Competitive Solutions. He shared a local news story on Amy’s chalk art. 

Has your company had a creative idea to connect co-workers? Please share! 

Do You Want a Culture of Accountability?

“Culture of accountability” is a term I hear several times each month.   Leaders talk about wanting to have a culture where accountability is embedded in the business.   Some organizations have it and I consider them world class.  The flip side is that many organizations want accountability to be a part of the culture but lack the processes or systems to make it a reality.

To transform the company and make accountability a part of the culture, organizations need to make it transparent, personal and real.   

A process needs to exist to bring visibility to accountability.  

An action register is a tool that just does just that.   It provides a way to track critical assignments and tasks that people have been assigned or volunteered.   Documenting the task or activity is only the first step, next an owner of the action needs to be assigned, a target date for completing needs to be agreed to as well.  Once we start doing this, we can remove ignorance as an excuse.   The narrative of “no one told me” or “I didn’t know” will go away. 

Too many times leaders assign a task to an employee and it does not get completed because the employee believes there will be no follow up so why follow thru on the request.

Download a sample action register here

Seth Davies, VP of Competitive Solutions Inc

Achieve Operational Excellence through Process Based Leadership®

Achieve Operational Excellence through Process Based Leadership®

“Create the Conditions for Engagement” 

Right out of the gate, I would like to pose a few questions for you to internalize and think through in regards to Operational Excellence.

  1. Do you have a SUSTAINABLE way of driving Performance throughout your ENTIRE Team/Organization? Is there Strategic Alignment and sense of Mutual Purpose? 
  1. Are there opportunities to move from a position of Defense to Offense? Have you transitioned from “Firefighting” Mode? 
  1. Is there a high level of Engagement? Are people held Accountable? 
  1. Are you being intentional and transparent with Communication, especially during these challenging times with the current situation? 
  1. What are your Top Priorities? Are people working on the Right things at the Right time? 
  1. Are the right Mindsets and Behaviors being demonstrated that over time quite naturally become your Standardized “Way of Work” Operating Model?

Working through these questions objectively, the answers can provide valuable insight into where you may or may not be in your journey to Operational Excellence. It sets the stage for what opportunities exist that are holding you back. To truly understand Operational Excellence is to connect with the fact that in order to be on the path of delivering and sustaining high levels of performance, you must “Create the Conditions” to Engage All Employees across the organization. It is imperative that everyone is aligned and “in the game!” This can be especially challenging, given the current situation where you are dispersed remotely. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!!

The following illustration takes a closer look at some of the Key Elements that drive the conditions:

operational excellence

 

So how do we get there?

At our Firm Competitive Solutions Inc., we partner with organizations to deliver our proven Business Transformation Methodology Process Based Leadership®.”  We address the “How” that is typically left out when exploring what could be. Specifically, we promote a culture where performance is driven by Process, where everyone is truly aligned and engaged, as opposed to being dependent on a select few, which is often siloed and misaligned.

Regardless of industry or Team/Organizational dynamic, Process Based Leadership® serves as a recipe that by design will reinforce the Mindsets and Behaviors required to create a culture of Connectivity, Clarity, and Consistency, where you are routinely “Creating the Conditions.”  Additionally, we have a fully transparent software solution called Visuant that facilitates the methodology and brings it to life as a “Single Source of Truth” to drive and validate performance.

Best luck on your Journey to Operational Excellence!!

Scott Favreau, Sr. Business Process Consultant

RESILIENCE – “Increase the Curve” to a New Beginning

RESILIENCE – “Increase the Curve” to a New Beginning

I’m sure we have all heard phrases such as “It’s easy to lead and navigate through life when things are going well.”   For most of us, it was business as usual up until a couple of weeks ago.  Coronavirus has obviously been a wake-up call with its disastrous impact, both physically and mentally.  For the vast majority of us, our lives have been turned upside down personally and professionally and there are still more questions than answers, which introduces an extra layer of complexity.  As I sit at home reflecting on where I’m at and what I have experienced thus far in thoughts, feelings and actions, one important word comes to mind and it resonates more than ever to get through this – RESILIENCE!!

As we are well aware, no one is immune from significant change such as what we are dealing with now and the challenges that it can present.  Although the level of severity and impact varies for each of us, there are an array of emotions and feelings that are in play for us to experience. The point is that we all handle change at a different pace and the potential representation of transition is most clearly demonstrated through the William Bridges Model.  Overall, the model represents the journey that one typically experiences from the time a change is introduced.  Unlike the current situation with the number of Coronavirus cases where the goal is to “flatten the curve”, the goal with managing change is to “increase the curve” and transition through the cycle.  Resilience gives people the strength to attack the change(s) head-on, overcome adversity, and move on with their lives.

So What’s with the Curve?

  • The First Phase “Endings” represents letting go from the current state of affairs/status quo. It’s evident that something has changed and there is a natural drop in productivity as we try to get our head around it.
  • The Second Phase “Neutral Zone” represents being trapped in trying to figure out where to go next. This is where we get caught up and overwhelmed with what to do.  This can drastically affect our ability to be productive with managing through.
  • The Third Phase “New Beginnings” represents acceptance and transition to embracing the change and moving in a positive direction thus “Increasing the Curve.”

Tips to demonstrate Resilience through Change and “Increase” the Curve

  • Avoid the “Victim Mentality”, don’t dwell on the past or play the blame game. This will only bring you down, draining you of precious energy, and accomplish nothing.
  • Inform and Educate yourself on the given situation – Fact Based vs. Emotion.
  • Remain hopeful and discern what’s in your control and outside of our control. Don’t become overwhelmed with things you can’t do anything about.  Focus on what you can control, regardless how small you think it is. 
  • Be Proactive – don’t avoid your problems or wait to be told what to do. Figure out what needs to be done and attack it. 
  • Document your goals/plans/actions and keep track of progress.
  • Communicate – talk about your experience with others. Find out how other people are feeling and let them know how you are feeling.
  • Reach out to other for support (family, colleagues, connections/network). This could be just to listen, bounce ideas off of, or seek advice to increase confidence.
  • Stay positive, remain hopeful and optimistic – reflect on all that you do have and are grateful for in order to avoid a negative mindset.
  • Take time out for yourself and enjoy what you love to do (hobbies, interests). You need to take mental brakes and connect with what energizes you and reduces stress.
  • Be Creative – think about how you can do things differently and what new opportunities exist or what new doors could this open up.
  • Weigh out and document pro’s and con’s as well as Stop/Start/Continue
  • Role model the right behaviors and set the example – remember, others may be looking up to you to see how you respond.

During this difficult time that we are all experiencing, I wish you the best of luck in navigating through the change(s) and most importantly doing what’s best for you and your family.  I think above all, the most important thing we can do is to communicate and be transparent with what’s on our mind, being willing to share and open to learn.  I appreciate the opportunity to reach out as part of the process for what I feel I need to do.  Together, we will get through this!

Stay Safe and Healthy and most of all – Be RESILIENT!!

Scott Favreau, Sr. Business Process Consultant, Competitive Solutions, Inc.

 

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