How to improve your productivity at work

A productive employee is an asset to any organisation. He works smartly, prioritises tasks and gives an organisation the most value for his time. Organisations also take notice of such individuals and we see them getting promoted faster, being handed over important responsibilities and being praised by the management.

Generally, most employees are productive but there are certain small things that can make a big difference when it comes to enhancing productivity at work. Prioritising one’s responsibilities is one such measure. It can be done by maintaining a job sheet. If in the beginning of the day itself, we identify the tasks that we need to complete and prioritise them according to their urgency and importance, it will help us reduce redundancy in the form of idling time away thinking what we should do next. It will also help us take control of the tasks at hand and divide them according to time-lines. Remember, the management always takes notice of employees who offer realistic deadlines and are well prepared and ready for any important meetings.

Another small measure that helps greatly in enhancing productivity is assigning time-limits to discussions that we have. For e.g. team based brainstorming sessions should not only have a starting time but should also have an ending time. Setting a time-line gives a clear message to participants to stay on the ball. It also reduces the time wastage that generally accompanies such sessions when participants idle away time in personal chatter. It also improves the quality of discussion as it is serious and focused. Having a moderator in such meetings can also help as s/he can stop people diverting from the topic. Apart from these there are many other simple but effective methods of enhancing productivity at work.

dinu asked, Hi Amit, I try to do my level best for the work given to me but i dont understand my boss’s expectation, everytime he is unsatisfied. sometimes he says dont apply your mind and sometimes he says you should do of ur own or take initiative and do of your own. Iam literally fed up to meet his expecatation, everyday going through mental torture, kindly advise how to handle such boss.

Amit Bansal answers, I suggest you have a one to one conversation with your manager. It is a good idea to understand expectations clearly. If he is not satisfied with your work it’s a good idea to be assertive and ask for improvement areas. Taking a feedback is very important and it should not be looked at as a negative mark on your capability.

bipin asked, Hi Amit, When I sit for working I always think what others think about me and I am not able to focus much or remember things which have happened before. Please let me know how to focus more. My interpersonal skills are also not good. I am also not able to mingle with the colleagues. I am like one many army.
Amit Bansal answers, It’s not a great idea to always work alone. It may be difficult to mingle with people to start with, but there is no harm in making a conscious effort. You can think about topics for small talk if you see yourself short of conversation ideas with other people. When you say interpersonal skills, does it mean that you don’t get along with other people well or making a conversation is difficult? If you are picking up conflicts with people often, then it’s a good idea to see why that is happening. But if it’s just lack of conversation ideas, then its a very small issue and can be resolved with conscious efforts.

vijay4914 asked, I am an IT professional, working on technology domain for more than 5 years. I now want to move to business domain and think of taking up MBA. Is it right / feasible to take this up. I am disillusioned and am losing focus in work. What do you suggest. Should I keep trying behind the scenes for such programmes or speak up to my manager about this and take concrete steps?
Amit Bansal answers, Its always a good idea to get a taste of the dish you plan to eat. Why don’t you meet with people in the business domain to understand the challenges there. Besides, if it’s feasible spend some time working in that domain before you completely make up your mind to move domains. MBA is a good idea however, but be grounded and take an informed decision.

gurpreet asked, People Handling is the Key Part of the Production…specially when you are handling asoosciates with upto Higher Sec, Education. Any Mantra to keep team Motivated always to deliver quality products on toes
Amit Bansal answers, The one thing that works for human beings is challenge and something new to look forward to. Whatever techniques you use for motivating your staff, add these two ingredients to it. I am sure it will work.

KK asked, Amit, I’m Kundan here. I’ve been working as a consultant for the last 5 years now. I think I am ready for the promotion and handle my own team as a manager. But for each appraisal I get looked over in favour of some other candidate. How can I make my invaluable to the organization? How can I take that which is due me for sometime now?
Amit Bansal answers, First thing is to identify what gaps are becoming hindrance to your promotion. Once you have identified the reasons, you must see what evidence support these reasons which are impacting your promotion. If there are reasons you feel are not appropriate you can bring it to the management’s notice along with your own analysis. Be assertive and always support your reason with data. You performance at workplace and the fact you feel you are now ready to take up a managerial role needs substantiation. If you can do that, I am sure you will be able to get the next promotion. All the best!

Amruth asked, Amit, do you think holding team bonding exercises and outings help improve productivity at work?
Amit Bansal answers, Such activities definitely increases trust among team members. And trust does effect productivity, communication and workplace culture to a great extent.

sri asked, At times my team will be fighting with each other for flimsy reasons and come to me to resolve it.As a Project Manager how should a handle this without hurting the sentiments of the team
Amit Bansal answers, It’s a good idea to listen to people, but you need to draw healthy boundaries when resolving issues for team members. You should definitely give a listening ear, but not commit to resolve their problems unless it’s absolutely in your control to solve them. You should advice them to use effective communication and resolve issues with their counterparts instead of reaching out to you all the time.

sandy asked, Amit, I work better when given a deadline. The adernaline that I get when I approach a deadline often has resulted in the best work I’ve done till date. I work as a research consultant. But often I wonder if there is any way in which I can continue to keep up my work standard at other times than just during an approaching deadline… Is there any way I can improve my work culture?
Amit Bansal answers, I can associate myself to how you work. Something that has worked for me. I create competition with my own self. I give myself deadlines and try beating or meeting them. It’s a different feeling when you are competing with yourself. If you are a self driven person then this will be a good way to keep the adrenalin rush.

Archana asked, I do love to involve myself with my team in any task. Often I have taken the brunt from my boss for the mistakes of my team. But I may not have passed on the ire to my team as I believe that as the team lead I am the one responsible for their actions. I want to be a little more stern in the coming year, not necessarily being a disciplinarian but not too lean either. How can I achieve this? Any tips?
Amit Bansal answers, To strike the right balance it’s important to hold ground and groom your team members as responsible individuals. You should not take ownership of their mistakes, you must provide all possible support to them to meet their goals. However, at the same time draw clear guidelines to establish accountability. It’s important to be friends with team members but at the same time it’s important to draw a healthy line of control. It’s not healthy to hold yourself responsible for your team member’s action. If they get credit for what they do good, they should be accountable for mistakes as well.

Devon asked, Hi Amit, my boss always shouts at me if I make a mistake and this causes me be less confident when I approach my next task. How can I ask him to be more polite in his reproach? Or should I just move to another job?
Amit Bansal answers, Well you must talk with your boss about this. He must be a little more sensitive towards you. Maybe he is not aware that his behavior is impacting people.


Chat Date: December 12, 2012


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