Updated: Oct 21, 2020
Traditionally in the workplace, productivity has been defined as the amount of work a person can produce an hour. This perspective worked well in an era of mechanized labor. People were viewed as interchangeable parts to the whole.
In today's era of global business and global leadership, the old definition of productivity proves limited and fails to tap into the full potential of workers. We need a new way to measure productivity that reflects the modern workplace. People today want to apply their passion and sense of purpose to engage fully in their daily tasks and make a difference in the world.
In fact, lack of engagement is proving a significant problem in organizations. A 2015 Gallup poll showed that just 32 percent of U.S. workers are engaged in their jobs. The majority of employees (68 percent) were either "not engaged" or "actively disengaged" with work. Gallup's 2016 data reveals that engagement increased just 0.4 percent, and many employees feel "indifferent" about their jobs.
Engaged workers use their strengths, are enthusiastic and committed, and receive mentoring so they can grow and develop, according to Gallup. Furthermore, Gallup's research shows that employee engagement is strongly connected to critical business outcomes, such as productivity, profitability, and customer service. "Engaged employees support the innovation, growth, and revenue that their companies need," Gallup states.
Productivity in a Holistic, Transformational Environment
In the modern organization, workers need to be viewed as an integral part of the whole. Individuals and teams are not interchangeable parts but embodiments of the whole, interdependent and interrelated to customers and suppliers. Thus, quality of work, not just quantity, is extremely important. And the balance of quality and quantity directly impacts employee engagement.
When performing daily tasks or interacting with customers and suppliers, modern workers engage their Whole Person: their thoughts, feelings, body, and values and beliefs. From this multi-dimensional level of engagement, productivity is more than the amount of work someone can produce in an hour. Productivity needs to include the quality of service—passion and purpose—created in tasks and interactions.
For a Global Leader operating in a global business context, service can be viewed as a spontaneous expression in which the optimum outcome is achieved in the moment. This spontaneous expression comes from a Whole-Brain approach to work that integrates right-brain and left-brain functioning. This Whole-Brain approach taps into each person’s capacity to generate abundance and excellence, a natural byproduct of the essence of all people.
From this perspective, an individual’s productivity needs to be measured by the degree of service provided in tasks and interactions, as the graphic below shows. The degree of service includes both the amount of work per hour, plus the quality of work. As a result, workers often are able to create breakthroughs in performance, producing more work—of a higher quality—within a specific timeframe. Thus, workers come closer to achieving true productivity, entering a state of intention, flow, dialogue, partnership, and other higher levels of functioning.
Global Leaders Measure Productivity as Degree of Service
Note: Service is the spontaneous expression of a daily task or interaction that comes
from each person's source of abundance and excellence.
The research of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian psychologist, and other high-performance experts underscore the importance of a spontaneous, Whole-Brain approach to productivity and employee engagement. Csikszentmihalyi's research shows that when a person concentrates in a highly focused way—engaging passion and purpose—then the person is taken out of everyday life and enters a state of flow, or high productivity. This also is referred to as a state of play, which is filled with creativity, curiosity, wonder, insight, listening, and observation.
Moving Toward True Productivity
True productivity implies that we are leading forward in our efforts: not “doing” for the sake of doing but being and doing together as an integrated whole. Sometimes activity in itself does not make workers productive. It can be draining. It sometimes catches people in a repetitive loop. Nothing really happens, although the constant activity assures workers that something must happen because they are doing so much.
Today's productivity needs to be interwoven with a person's ability to integrate their left-brain and right-brain functioning, which synchronizes being and doing. This true productivity arises from each person's source of true power. The more true power people assume for themselves, the more pure energy they have to create from their individual genius.
Productivity can then flow from all possibilities and yield abundance and excellence. Workers can begin to convert knowledge to wisdom. They then can engage more fully with their sense of purpose and passion, experiencing more of their full potential. As the Gallup poll suggests, organizations reap the benefits of this engagement through innovation, growth, and increased revenue.
As organizations shift to this new perspective of productivity, people naturally upgrade from knowledge to wisdom as their operating system. Operating from wisdom, organizations can create measurements that answer a new set of questions.
To Measure Productivity as a Global Leader, Consider These Questions:
Has the worker set a clear intention for the project or interaction?
Has the worker invited others to set their intentions for the project or interaction?
Can the worker create a balanced exchange in his or her interactions with others?
Do all parties involved draw upon their individual genius to facilitate a more comprehensive response to the situation?
How much growth occurred as a result of the project or interaction—both on an individual level and for the business?
Did everyone involved feel honored and appreciated?
Did new insights emerge from the dialogue of interaction?
Was new energy released to facilitate the creative expression of whatever needs to happen next as a result of the project tasks or interaction?
Did the worker generate abundance from the project or interaction?
Did the worker demonstrate excellence with his or her tasks or interaction?
Wisdom, no longer knowledge, is the new strategic advantage in organizations. This transformation in tasks and interactions requires workers to become Global Leaders. Global Leaders nurture their core human capacities for abundance and excellence. This model of leadership converts knowledge to wisdom and brings goodwill into our interactions. Thus, Global Leaders are more dynamic, efficient, and fully able to meet the productivity challenges of the modern world.
Adkins, Amy. "Employee Engagement in U.S. Stagnant in 2015." Gallup, Jan. 13, 2016. Accessed Jan. 5, 2017. http://www.gallup.com/poll/188144/employee-engagement-stagnant-2015.aspx
O'Boyle, Ed, and Mann, Annamarie. "American Workplace Changing at Dizzying Pace." Gallup, Feb. 15, 2017. Accessed March 12, 2017. http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/203957/american-workplace-changing-dizzying-pace.aspx