Time Management Expert, Event Speaker: Mark Lamendola

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Productivity Knowledge Base: Productivity Metrics

How do you measure productivity? If you are the U.S. Government, you measure output per worker. As in many other things, the U.S. Government's methods and common sense do not converge. Their method is flawed, because it does not factor in the hours worked.

Productivity is output per labor hour. It is not output per worker.

Be careful to use the right metrics, or you'll really  have no clue if your productivity enhancement measures are working or not. Now you know the right way to define productivity, but what does this mean in real terms? How do you know if Person A on a crew is being productive at Task X? From a manager's point of view, aggregate productivity is meaningless.

Suppose you have a crew of six people. One of them is a poor worker, one is a star, and the rest are about average. Looking at their total output, it would appear there is no problem--they are working as productively as can be expected.

Note: "Average" is not diminutive. Most people like to think of themselves as "above average," but in reality the average person is, well, average. And that's not necessarily a bad thing to be.

If you were to watch how this team works, you'd see that if one member came up to expectations, the whole team would have a higher output.

Suppose this team does very well at running conduit. You watch them and then walk off, confident they are very productive. They are running 20% more conduit per hour than any other crew in your company. But the next day, you notice they pull wire at 50% below where your job guide says they should be.

This kind of up and down continues throughout the project. At the end of the project, you measure productivity and find out that the crew exceeds productivity expectations by just a little. Is this a highly productive crew?

This scenario illustrates what's wrong with measuring productivity at the end of a project. That measurement tells you next to nothing. It doesn't show you strengths or weaknesses. What you need to know is where your team has room for improvement. If they are weak in wire-pulling, perhaps they  need better tools or some training. The only way you are going to know is to measure their wire-pulling productivity.

Don't oversimplify productivity metrics the way the U.S. Government does. Instead, focus in on skill areas and identify those that need improvement through such things as:

  • Better tools, parts, materials, or equipment
  • Better procedures
  • Communication improvement
  • Better work environment
  • Specific training

If you use your productivity metrics as troubleshooting aids, you will be making good use of those metrics. Otherwise, you will be using them to generate numbers that mean as much as "the check is in the mail."



Do you want to radically improve how well people in your organization make use of the limited number of hours in each work day?

Contact me to arrange a time when we can talk about a presentation: mark@mindconnection.com. Why arrange a time? So I can give you full attention during the call. There's a really powerful time management tip. Ask me why it works.