The Illusion of Employee Productivity: Part 2

In The Illusion of Employee Productivity: Part 1, we explored how setting expectations and providing support impacts your employees’ productivity levels. Now let’s see what other factors influence employee productivity and what you can do about it.

The Four Big Factors Continued


Although some jobs, such as commission based sales positions, are incentive based, many are not. Other methods of influencing productivity are necessary for jobs that do not have a monetary incentive. Recognition is a major tool you can use and there seems to be a direct correlation between recognition and productivity.

At one of my workshops, I met a manager who candidly admitted that she did not see the need to praise others for what they do because she is a self-starter and does not need it herself. Regardless of your own work style and desire (or lack thereof) for praise, granting recognition can have a positive effect on your employee performance.

You can grant recognition in a formal or informal way. Generally, the bigger the organization, the more formal the recognition needs to be. Even simple words of praise have a huge effect. When given in public, acknowledgement and celebration of employees’ successes not only uplifts the workplace atmosphere, it also motivates your people to “go the extra mile.” In other words, recognition increases productivity.


What happens in the office does not always stay in the office. If you leave the office at the end of the day in a bad mood, chances are that by the time you get home, you’ll still feel upset. The same goes for when employees enter the workplace in the morning. You can take one look at some of your employees recognize how distracted. They may be walking in the office  with preoccupied minds or a to-do list of tasks that they procrastinated on. You may stop yourself from asking too many questions or checking-in with these employees for fear of invading their privacy. You may also assume that this stuff is totally out of your control. However, how many times does that “stuff” affect your employees’ productivity? What is the cost of you totally ignoring it? Will hoping that it disappears work?

Personal factors such as an alcohol dependency, family problems or financial worries can all cause employees’ work performance quality to drop. Employee Assistant Programs (EAP) are dedicated to addressing these issues in corporate America and allow managers to direct employees to these resources when necessary. Unfortunately, small business owners do not have this resource available. Still, these personal issues (as well as others) interfere with business results. So what can you do?

First, have a straight-forward conversation with your employee about your concerns. Sounds simple enough, right? However, many people don’t know how to start such a discussion. In order to influence employee engagement, two key elements must be touched upon once the conversation begins. Above all else, you need to listen to what your employee is going through. You show them that you care just by listening to them. Next, you want to clarify and possibly reiterate your expectations regarding performance while at work. Missing either one of these minimizes the effect you may have.

Now that you are familiar with these four factors, how will you shift YOUR leadership?

Over the next week, try to implement one of these elements each day. For example: on Monday set expectations, on Tuesday focus on support, on Wednesday grant recognition, and on Thursday address personal factors. Then on Friday, take time to review the difference it made. Be sure to share your findings with us!