Importance of Measuring Productivity by Results, Not Inputs

The influx of hybrid and remote work arrangements has brought new considerations for team leaders, business owners, and managers. Some of these are immediately apparent, such as equipping team members to work from home effectively and addressing remote policies, communication, and access issues. Others are more subtle, such as the sense of ownership, the ability to collaborate on cross-functional business challenges, and the building of camaraderie and unity. Businesses of all sizes continue to grapple with these challenges as they shift to different levels of remote work experiences.

With long-term policies being developed in a post-pandemic landscape, it’s taking time for most businesses to understand the impact of proactive versus reactive management approaches in a remote setting. One of the biggest challenges with remote work in the past was measuring productivity. If managers couldn’t see their team and leaders didn’t have visibility into their employees’ work, how could they ensure that tasks were being completed and company objectives remained the focus during work hours?

Measuring productivity differently

This question presents an opportunity to reevaluate what really matters when measuring team productivity. Inputs, such as attendance at meetings, sitting at a desk, or being out of the office, are often visible but can be a flawed metric for tracking actual productivity. Instead, many forward-thinking organisations are turning to outcome-oriented measures of productivity.

In the McKinsey Quarterly article “Reimagining the post-pandemic workforce” by Andrea Alexander, Aaron de Smet, and Mihir Mysore, they write:

“When addressing the question of employee productivity, avoid the urge to monitor inputs and activity as a proxy for productivity. Metrics focused on inputs or volume of activity have always been a poor substitute for true productivity that boosts outcomes and results… Small teams, the lifeblood of today’s organisational success, thrive with empowering, less-controlling management styles. It’s better to define the outcomes you expect from your small teams rather than the specific activities or time spent on them.” (How Companies Can Make Remote Working a Success | McKinsey, 2020)

Alexander and colleagues emphasise the importance of defining success within an organisational structure rather than measuring productive output using traditional and outdated frameworks that create friction in hybrid environments.

Stay tuned for Part Two, where we’ll give you the tools to apply a results-based approach to your team’s productivity measurements.

Focus on what matters

If your organisation has been focused on tracking inputs rather than outcomes, it’s time to change the culture. Red Leaf’s Tracking Success Virtual Adventure takes teams to the heart of Southern Africa, where they learn the complex and ancient art of animal tracking and see the importance of tracking metrics that align with key goals and visions. This virtual adventure offers a unique experience that reinforces an outcome-oriented approach to shared results. Get in touch to find out more.

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