How to increase Productivity at your workplace

We all have a different idea of what success means and we all want to become successful. But what makes some people successful, while others remain toiling their way around? Well, successful people have a different mindset. But, what is a mindset? The idea of mindset was discovered by Stanford University, Carol Dweck after several years of research. It is considered to be a simple idea that can make all the difference. 

In her research, Carol Dweck outlines that there are two types of mindset: fixed mindset and growth mindset. People with a fixed mindset believe that their qualities are fixed traits. They believe that their talents or intelligence cannot grow. With this type of mindset, these people tend to spend most of their time documenting what they have done with their fixed traits. Their fixed mindset makes them believe that talent, not hard work, can only achieve success. 

On the other hand, people with growth mindsets are people who believe that with hard work and dedication, their basic abilities can be improved. People with a growth mindset view talent and intelligence as a starting point, and they then focus on improving their capabilities. They never yield to their failures or setbacks, but they view them as an opportunity learn and grow. 

Whether you are aware of it or not, we keep running an account of what is happening around as and how productive we are. Our minds are always monitoring and interpreting the situations around us, and depending on our mindset these situations can affect us either positively or negatively. Our mindset will govern our interpretation process. A fixed mindset will focus on judging situations in a negative manner. For instance, the fixed mindset will say ‘I don’t fit in here’ or ‘My boss is too demanding’. Because of this, your production will definitely go down as your self-esteem will go down. 

Elements of our personality such as sensitivity to failure/setback can predispose us to holding a particular mindset. The good news is that we have the ability to develop and reshape our mindsets. We can transform our mindset from fixed to growth to increase our productivity. 

Transform into an Expansive Mindset 

When we believe that we cannot grow, we can’t. When you have a fixed mindset, you cannot explore possibilities. You will always give up easily and you will not achieve your goals easily. The growth mindset is based on the ability to develop, change and explore new heights that have not been explored before.

You can develop a growth mindset if you practice. Remember, change is not an event but it is a process.

  • Always acknowledge and embrace your imperfections, failures and setbacks to overcome them.
  • View challenges as opportunities and take them head on.
  • Seek knowledge and not approval. When your top priority is approval other than learning the process, you will miss important things and you will not have learnt.
  • Develop a sense of purpose
  • Keep your brain fit by learning. The brain muscles need to work out by learning which I crucial to developing a growth mindset.
  • Cultivate determination and insist on your goals till you achieve them. Do not give up easily.
  • Make other peoples mistakes your lesson and do not repeat them when presented the same challenge.
  • Cultivate a positive attitude.

By using the above practices, you will slowly transform from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset and your productivity will grow.

Productivity is never an accident, it’s the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning & focused effort

– Paul Meyer

Praise vs. Blame: Which one positively affects productivity

We have at one point in our life received praise for the good we have done and as well been blamed for something gone wrong. We are familiar with the effects of the two; which effect was long lasting? Which of the two made you feel more productive and which inspired you to become even more determined? In a work environment, praise, blame and criticism are tools that if used properly can lead to higher productivity. The vice versa is true, if criticism, praise or criticism is used wrongly, the productivity of workers tend to nosedive which can bring devastating effects to your business.

 Use Praise to Enhance Productivity

Praise, if used correctly, makes employees to become more creative and have less stress while working. This converts to higher productivity. When reminded of a good thing they have done, employees get motivated and work even harder to surpass their previous achievement. In a study that involved more than 4 million employees carried out by The Gallup Organization, employees who received regular praise for their achievements:

  • Showed increased individual productivity
  • Were more settled at work, had better safety records and fewer accidents at their workplace.
  • Showed a higher level of loyalty and are more likely to stay within that organization. 

The research showed that, workers working for a boss they disliked they were more likely to develop stress related problems. They also exhibited low productivity in the workplace despite being busy all the time. Such workers did not intend to suggest developmental ideas, as they are wary of their boss. 

Productive praise should be specific, outline why you are praising your employee other than just a routine ‘well done’. Additionally, do not praise everything, it becomes devalued and meaningless and its impact is no more. When you praise too much, you shift from productive praise to destructive praise. Another aspect of destructive praise is extreme praise. For instance, if you tell someone ‘You are a natural’ the person will feel so good at something that they will stop trying being better. This will definitely lower productivity. For praise to be productive, do not add conditions to your praise or use it as a sweetener to negative feedback. Praise is a very efficient tool that if used wisely can lead to increases motivation and better results in the workplace.

Take into Consideration the Effects of Blame and Criticism

If something does not go as expected at the workplace, someone has to take the blame. Depending on how the blame is laid, it can encourage the person to style up and avoid the same mistake again. This is where constructive criticism knocks; constructive criticism focuses on the achievable objectives, has a positive tone and aims at boosting productivity. On the other hand, destructive criticism demeans, discourages and condemns people.

To criticize constructively, use a self-assessment approach by skillful questioning which makes the other party to recognize their mistakes and learn. When you guide an appraisee to point out their mistakes, they learn and will avoid making the same mistakes. However, if you point the mistakes yourself, they will only get emotionally hurt, their self-esteem will go down and their overall productivity will decrease. 

Do not focus on the person who did the mistake, when criticizing; instead focus on the mistake itself. For instance, if an employee makes a mistake and the boss comments ‘You are always making mistakes, I wonder why you are here in the first place’. Though it might be said with good intentions, the employee will be hurt beyond measure and his or her productivity will go down. Instead, be descriptive, use apathetic tone and show that the person is not the problem, but the behavior or results are. At the same time, do not impose solutions. Instead, use the self-assessment trick-use questions to draw the appraisee to a solution as he will learn better.

Increase ‘Best-Self’ Activation

Best-self activation is an all-encompassing tool that leads to immediate and long-term desirable outcomes through interaction, recursion and subjective construal between social system and social concept. Best-self activation concepts lead to improvements in employee’s productivity, emotions, resilience to burn out and stress normally associated with work environment. Creativity in problem solving, good relationships with colleagues and employers, high performance under pressure are some of the benefits associated with best-self activation. 

Best-self activation influences physiology and emotions in employment relationships. There is growing evidence which suggest that apart from making workers feel good, best-self activation also makes them experience a barrage of positive emotions like happiness, joy, numerous intellectual, social and physical benefits. A reflected best-activation equips employees with novel input from their social network about the reality of their personality and yearns to make the maximum contribution possible. This intervention sharpens the individual’s best-self-concept which are the cognitive representation of the characteristics and qualities the employee will display in his or her best during the course of discharging their duties. Increasing the accessibility to best –self activation concepts is an intervention which significantly change individuals’ self-knowledge structures which are critical in explaining why and how people do and feel in and out of the work environment.

It’s not about being the best, it’s about being better than you were yesterday

Immediate outcomes associated with Best-self Activation

Emotions

From the social network point of view; a positive impact creates positive emotions (People will become joyful when they receive a pleasant surprise). The same case applies when people get inspired whenever they witness fellow human’s excelling. In a nutshell, best-self activation acts as a media of information about a person at their best. This theoretically promotes positive emotions namely; pride, awe, joy, compassion, inspiration and excitement. It is thus hypothesized that employees who receive best-self activation experience greater positive emotions in comparison to those individuals who don’t receive best- self activation.

Psychology has it that positive emotions greatly broaden people’s scope in terms of awareness. This leads to wider array of actions, thoughts and perceptions. This broadens the mindset to the basic discovery of entirely new knowledge, forging of new alliances and acquisition of new skills. One useful result of the broadened mindset in best –self activation is the undoing effect concept. This refers to the process in which positive emotions takes to pieces and dismantles the effects of stress and other negative emotions. Positive mindset enables individuals to cope and evaluate stress which subsequently makes them more resilient. Normally employees tend to direct their attention on the immediate threat which is a response geared to promote self-protection. Stress in the work place can extensively impair their cognitive functioning and lower their productivity. Psychologically, best-self activation should undo the cardiovascular response to negativity to the baseline levels. This increases employee’s resilience to stress even if they are working under very stressful conditions or circumstances. 

Cognition

The stress resilience and broadening effect is an inevitable consequence of best-self activation concepts which in turn improves creativity and problem solving. When employees are less encumbered by reactions to threat and stress, they are better placed to marshal their cognitive faculties to meet the task at hand through exertion of self-control. Individuals who receive best-self activation are better placed to perform better and solve problems in very stressful conditions compared to their counterparts who never received the best-self activation.

Social system effects act through interaction with other environmental processes. Best-self activation gives early advantages in terms of negotiation, perpetuation and broadening of the employee’s scope. This raises creativity and engagement since they are better placed to tackle challenges and well placed to embrace new opportunities as they arise. Subjective construal and interpretation of the environment are interventions which are as a consequence to best-self activation. This has lasting effects in changing people’s narratives concerning their social environment in the work place and their associated attitudes and behaviors. 

Build the right Culture to increase Productivity 

In today’s competitive economic landscape, it is imperative to have happy, motivated and productive employees to have an edge. When employees are disengaged, disloyal, undervalued and overworked then it proves an uphill task to break even leave alone to making profits.

Encourage Breaks

The benefits of these breaks are to keep the employees from becoming bored and unfocused. When in the groove of a project or task, ideas flow and the feeling is fantastic. This unfortunately does not last forever and each time you stretch beyond your productivity zone, you get exhausted, unfocused, and irritable and zoned out. To fix this is simple, let the employee take a break and they will come back on tract. Scientifically it has been shown that deactivation and reactivation of goals especially when faced with long tasks it is necessary to take breaks to keep one focused and on track.

Breaks help the employees to make new connections and retain information. The brain is conditioned on two models. The focused mode and the diffuse mode; the latter is the more relaxed and not associated with hard thinking while the former entails learning and meticulous execution of task. To help optimize the employee’s productivity in the work place regular breaks will do the trick. This is based on the premise that breaks allows the brain to hook up novel and return valuable insights. When you are on the focus mode you actually block access to diffuse mode. This will enable them to be able to systematically solve very difficult problems and be prepared to tackle challenging tasks throughout the day.

Breaks help the employees to re-evaluate their tasks and goals. The benefits of breaks in any organizational set-up cannot be under-estimated. The breaks allow the employees to take a back step and ascertain that they are accomplishing their goals in the right way. When worked continuously, the employees lose focus and are likely to be lost in the weeds. On the other hand, following brief intermission and picking from where they left will enable them to think and reflect on what they really want to achieve. This practically encourages them to stay focused and mindful of their expectation and objectives.

To keep employees working and happy it is important to make them feel that they are an essential part of the organizational set-up. Smart organizations’ primary goal is enhancement of -employee performance. Knowledge of the work economy is based on the premise that employees are the fuel that keeps organizations adapting, growing, innovating and improving. Breaks positively affect the ability of the employee by enabling the individual to adjust to the negative impact associated with recurrent and tiring activities which are mostly uncomfortable, noxious and distracting. The breaks motivate employees through psychological engagement and effective functioning. This boosts their mood and morale, which in turn enhance their performance at the work place.

Encourage Teamwork

Working alone in the workplace can be exhausting, let alone boring. Working as a team increases productivity, as there are more minds. Working as a team encourages innovation in the workplace giving your business incentives to move forward. Additionally, working as a team induces a more positive attitude to the employees. Teamwork in the workplace leads to happier and more productive workers. 

For any organization to thrive, remain competitive and satisfy the customers ever changing needs, it must learn how to get the most of their employees through team working. 

Encourage and Motivate

Words of encouragement from the employer go a long way in improving the employee’s productivity. By encouraging your employees, they feel valued and the workplace becomes a happy place to be. When your employees achieve their goals, make a point of rewarding their efforts. Setting up a system to award your employees is an excellent way of increasing productivity. This will give them incentives and improve overall productivity at the workplace.

Creating a work friendly environment motivates your employees as they feel that they are where they belong. Enough working space, air conditioning and comfortable working stations contribute to a work friendly environment. You can also create good relationships with your employees by organizing few social events in the workplace such as a pizza day. These practices makes your employees feel valued and their productivity increases.

Productivity is the result of focused efforts, motivation and intelligent planning. It can also be defined as the efficiency of converting inputs to outputs. With a growth mindset, best-self activation, productive praise, constructive criticism and breaks, productivity can be improved. However, if these tools are not used wisely, productivity cannot be achieved. It is therefore a viable idea to master the art of using these tools to improve productivity at your workplace.

Productivity is not just about doing more, it is about creating more impact with less work