Archive for the ‘ASK Lori! – Seleted Answers’ Category

Productivity and knowledge workers (esp. when right-sizing)

What do you suggest to increase the productivity in a consulting services organization, and why?

Lori’s Answer

You have asked about how to increase productivity (and why) in a consulting organization. And I believe you are referencing that there is “right-sizing” happening in your organization due to the economy. Based on this premise, I will address the question…

First, it is important that you are a team of knowledge workers. It is typically harder to quantify the productivity in a practical way, but it is not impossible.

My response considers a simple definition of productivity as “doing the right things right.”

Here are some tips you can use:

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How integral are support staff to everyone’s productivity and performance?

Question: How integral are non-revenue-earning support staff in the context of surviving the turbulent times and cost cutting ?

Lori’s Answer

You have asked a question that leads me to wonder if you are looking to cut costs in your organization. You are not alone.

So how does one look at the productivity of the organization and determine how to (instantly, if possible) reduce the cost structure without harm to revenue retention and generation?

I’m going to start with some general tips. I believe you will Find them useful even without my being specific to an organization in the conference and training sector. If you have signed up for a call, we can get more detailed.

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Positioning for high performance with a bonus program

Question: Looking to begin a high performance culture. One of the steps we want to create is an all employee bonus. How do you go about selecting the right behaviors/outcomes company-wide to incent the desired outcome ($profit & efficiency)?

Lori’s Answer

You are looking to “begin” a high performance culture. It will help me to understand your work culture, so please be aware that this answer is given without a complete picture.

Your focus with this question is on connecting “doing the right things right” with a performance bonus.

I have two notes to make about a new bonus program:

  1. Do not reduce wages to make room for the bonus (unless you absolutely must cut labor cost in total)
  2. Be as certain as you can that each role is linked to strategic objectives and that what is measured
    is what counts (to the organization)

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Benchmarks for Productivity Target-Setting

I am working on Productivity Benchmarking for every function and every role in our organization. I have framed Metrics for each and every role so that I can get quantifiable data. I have started framing Factors of Metrics to ensure that the data collected has minimum errors attached to it. My next plan would be that I will start using these Metrics and start benchmarking according to industry standards. My Question: I have been able to get some data for Sales but I am finding it difficult to get data on technical people. So I have couple of questions here. 1. I would like to know the approach I have taken is right or wrong? 2. Whether we have any published data on benchmarking on IT industry or Technical Benchmarking for Individual roles? 3. What would be other ways to set Benchmarks on every functional role?

Lori’s Answer
(Answer shortened)

I love what you are doing. I agree it is a challenge in setting up, and you will face challenges in implementation, which we’ve discussed separately. To keep you moving now…

Plan for many phases with ample testing – mostly through conversation and analysis – as you grow this productivity measurement system.

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How to motivate clients to move, so you can be more productive

Question: How do you motivate clients to move more quickly so you can increase your own productivity and tie up open projects?

Lori’s answer:

Ah, productivity tied to a customer’s timeline. Good question! Quick answer: Scarcity

You want to be responsive to the client when they need you. That is a good trait.

However you may find that your clients do not put as much value on this as you hope. It has been proven time and again that the busier and harder to reach you become (or are perceived to be) the more in demand you become. Honestly I’m still learning this myself, and it is a balance.

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Marketing on auto-pilot for higher productivity and returns

Question: Most of my business has come from word of mouth. Most people don’t understand what we do! How can I market my company without going broke on advertising (read: productively)? I have already spent thousands.

Lori’s answer:

For you, weaving marketing into your work is important and when you do this well, such that you can then put much of your marketing on auto-pilot, you are going to feel –and be – both
productive and successful.

In your mail you identify an obvious niche….
… and it is challenging to get the attention of your market and your competitors are also after them.

You feel your marketing dollars are not being spent productively… you want an ROI (and fast payback!)

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Mixing passion for work with productivity and balance in life

Question: I am a very passionate person and when I am excited and engaged in a project I will often get drained afterward. How do I get a more balanced approach to my productivity, especially when I feel like my passion is a necessary component of my success?

Lori’s answer:

Passion in your work can be a great thing. If you are feeling drained, then I fear you are not finding flow…or you are not getting the rest or exercise that your body, and brain, need.

Since you mention the words “balanced” and “excited,” I am guessing finding flow is not the issue. Instead you may be feeling badly about what you didn’t do for yourself (or others) that is draining you at the end of the project. You may need to even take a break during these periods of mental flow. Here’s something I’d like you to do:

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Motivating employees – discover their “WIIFM”

Question: How do you get employees motivated and passionate about the mission of the organization so that they strive for self improvement and improved work performance without micromanaging from management or finger pointing at their colleagues?

Lori’s answer:

You’ve put a lot of great keywords into your question: motivated, passionate, mission…
This tells me what a great leader you are – congrats!

But guess what? -No one in your company will care about the practice in the way that you do. That is because the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) for you IS your company; that’s not the case for your employees.

I also love that you brought up finger-pointing. It is a sign of unclear roles and expectations (read: measures).

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