Do you struggle with managing productivity at work? There are a variety of reasons why women in business find managing productivity a challenge and often it starts with the manager and/or the culture of their work environment. So what do you do if your boss is hindering your ability to be productive?
The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings. – Thomas Sowell
Does Gender Affect Productivity?
Here is where gender differences in the workplace can really cause a challenge for women in business. Kevin interviewed a lot of business professionals about the struggle of managing productivity when the boss was the root of the problem. and found many women who were chastised for trying to remedy the situation. Here’s what one woman had to say:
“It was the most frustrating experiences of my life. I didn’t get fired, but I was told that if I can’t handle the pressure, I should get another job. When I tried to explain that I am just trying to improve the process for everyone, I got the ‘hysterical woman’ speech. And I was calm and completely under control. In my opinion, if your boss doesn’t have a clue about management and doesn’t understand productivity himself, you’re wasting your time.”
That sounds fatalistic, but the reality is there are really are ways to help “manage up” the chain to improve productivity.
Kevin offers a few suggestions:
- Pick the right time to talk with your manager
- Pick the right place to bring up issues on your mind
- Be mindful of your manager’s communication preferences
- Focus on the goal, the mutual win
- Use a question instead of a confrontation
This last idea can be very effective.
Use a Question to Avoid Confrontation
Here is one woman’s experience of using a question:
“Every once in a while he would give me one too many ‘drop everything and do this’ type assignments. I would just ask him which of my ‘drop everything’ jobs he wanted me to do first and what jobs I was not going to be able to get to that day. He was always good to stop and reevaluate… I truly think it just never occurred to him that he had given me more than was humanly possible to do.”
Sometimes, your manager may not realize just how much they have put on your plate. Taking a moment to ask where this newest task falls on the priority list can be a great opportunity for you to list all of your current projects.
If you commit to giving more time than you have to spend, you will constantly be running from time debt collectors. — Elizabeth Grace Saunders
Kevin Kruse is also the author of the book 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management which explored the productivity habits of 7 billionaires, 13 Olympic Athletes, 29 straight-A students, and 239 entrepreneurs. In the book, he offers an infographic that summarizes those 15 habits for effectively managing productivity. Check out #9:
Secret #9: They say “no” to almost everything.
Billionaire Warren Buffet once said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” And James Altucher colorfully gave me this tip: If something is not a “hell, YEAH!”, then it’s a “no!”
Remember: you only have 1,440 minutes in every day. Don’t give them away easily!
This secret is a hard one for those who want to please their boss, spouse, community leaders, and feel the need to say yes whenever asked. Remember what Kevin says: Every “yes” is actually a “no” to something else. Say no to everything outside of your goal areas.
It’s not always that we need to do more but rather that we need to focus on less. – Nathan W. Morris
I couldn’t agree more. Saying no goes hand-in-hand with delegating.
Do You Focus on High-Value Activities?
In a Fast Company article about productivity, the author talks about HVAs which are high-value activities:
People are more efficient at things that come naturally, while tasks that feel like a struggle are likely to impede progress. If you can, delegate the duties that feel like an effort, and instead focus on “high-value activities.” “HVAs are within your mission, leverage your strengths, and create impact or change,” says Hillary Rettig, author of The Seven Secrets of the Prolific: The Definitive Guide to Overcoming Procrastination, Perfectionism, and Writer’s Block. “They also create clarity and open your schedule.” Delegating your non–HVA activities also helps create community. After all, they could very well be someone else’s HVAs.
As you examine how you spend your day, how much time do you dedicate to high-value activities versus those activities that could be delegated to others?
One final thought on managing productivity at work: it could be your environment itself. A study examined the productivity of those in an open space office vs. cubical vs. private offices and found this interesting fact:
The study bolstered the “activity-based work” movement, which holds that employees should choose different types of work environments – desks, café-like settings, meeting rooms — based on the type of tasks they are doing. At companies that give workers a choice of where to work, along with the tools for working remotely, employees were 12% more satisfied with their jobs than those at companies without remote-work options.
Back to You
Bottom line, whether it’s your own habits, those of your boss, or your office location, there are ways of managing productivity that will help you become more focused, efficient and successful. Which will you examine first?
- The Cost of Employee Burnout
- How to Manage Career Fears
- You Are the Best Investment
- How to Deal with the Negative Attitudes that Threaten Your Career
- Understanding the Power of No
JJ DiGeronimo — the president of Tech Savvy Women — is a speaker, author, and thought leader for women in tech and girls and STEM. Through her work, JJ empowers professional women and consults with senior executives on strategies to retain and attract women in technology to increase thought and leadership diversity within organizations.
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