Here’s a look at three interesting stories currently in the news with ramifications for your team’s productivity.
1. The right amount of pressure to put on your team
While you obviously don’t want your team functioning in a pressure cooker, there are times when managers need to push against inertia or create enough stress to motivate people to action. Liane Davey talks in the Harvard Business Review about how to identify team members who are too comfortable with the status quo and how to push them to higher levels of performance, including increasing the frequency and pointedness of your coaching, connecting their work to something bigger and more important, and not getting in the way of natural consequences (such as loss of recognition). She also tackles how to help employees who are burdened by too much stress, including giving more frequent positive feedback so they can feel more of a sense of making headway, helping break projects down so they feel surmountable, and modeling confidence that things will work out.
2. Pressure to answer emails after-hours leads to stress and detachment – even when there’s not actually much email to answer
Expecting employees to answer email after regular work hours prevents people from ever fully disengaging from work and leads to chronic stress and exhaustion, finds new research from Colorado State University. Interestingly, it’s not just the added work associated with answering email after hours; rather, the expectation itself “creates anticipatory stress” and “influences employees’ ability to detach from work regardless of the time required for email … Even during the times when there are no actual emails to act upon, the mere norm of availability and the actual anticipation of work create a constant stressor that precludes an employee from work detachment.” The authors note that while those norms might benefit organizations in the short-run, they can be quite damaging in the long run, as people become increasingly stressed and emotionally detach from work. They urge managers to consider mitigating practices, such as weekly email-free days, rotating schedules, or other methods of reducing pressure to maintain email connectivity after leaving the office.
3. Everything you know about employee productivity is wrong
Everything you know about employee productivity is wrong, writes Shawn Doyle in Inc. He argues against six different pieces of conventional wisdom about productivity, including the belief that employees are more productive if they have to work from your office (noting research showing just the opposite); the idea that open offices are productive and collaborative (arguing they’re distracting and noisy); and that it’s primarily younger people who want to work from home (apparently it’s actually older workers, married people, and parents). The whole piece is worth a read.