Enhancing Workplace Productivity: Expert Insights on Building a Productive Culture and Implementing Strategic Changes

Building a productive workplace is imperative for optimising your workforce. It takes a lot of time to get a team to work together and be productive.

We invited experts and professional thought leaders to contribute to our collaborative article discussion titled ‘What is one change you recommend making to enhance culture and productivity?’.

1 . Mark McArthur-Christie

Mark brings attention to the importance of asking the word “why?”. His valuable advice could help you increase your productivity by simply challenging your everyday routine.

2 . Deirdre Sheridan

Deirdre uses her experience in a remote environment to highlight how personalised activities can increase connectivity between employees and enhance productivity through culture.

3 . Marieta Bencheva

Marieta provides an in depth exploration of the significance of company culture in driving productivity and success. She emphasises that culture has a massive part in engagement and performance in a company. Marieta offers beneficial advice on framework development, engaging subject matter, and transparent communication.

Mark McArthur-Christie

Managing Director, The Think Human Consultancy

Let people ask ‘why?’ And let them do it a LOT.

Asking “Why do we have that Monday morning meeting?” might reveal that it’s actually a monumental waste of an hour for everyone – or it might be the most useful hour of the week.

 “Why do we produce that weekly report for the Board – you know, the one they never read?” might show that directors don’t read it because it’s too long, but unless you ask why you won’t know.

The older, the more established, the more unquestioned the activity, process or policy is the more you should be asking ‘why?’

Deirdre Sheridan

Community & Content Manager, Blue Globe Innovation

As a 100% remote team that is continuing to grow well into the pandemic, Blue Globe Innovation is dedicated to fostering connections between team members that go beyond our Zoom boxes. 

This year, each member of our team was led through an activity to create a personal “Manual of Me” with important information about working with each other–from how to pronounce a colleague’s name to what they enjoy doing outside of work to when it’s okay to send a Slack message.

It’s been a great way to understand each other’s boundaries and working styles, even when we can’t connect in person. While this practice isn’t unique to Blue Globe – it’s used at large tech startups like Slack and Github–we still find it provides value to a small team and an overall rise in wellbeing and productivity amongst our colleagues.

Marieta Bencheva

Cofounder

In contemporary times we are no strangers to the fact that change drives innovation and that now more than ever it happens to be the lifeblood of many companies’ success. Culture many times equals growth and what better way to thrive than by functioning as an ecosystem? We are not static individuals, we are dynamic and with that trait, we can create motion as a collective of business professionals.

 Entrepreneurs and leaders are aware that company culture is not just another fancy phrase and that it remains one of the key factors when analysing which elements affect a company’s productivity indicators. However, acknowledging that an organisation’s productivity is linked with its culture isn’t enough to improve either one. As a leader, you must understand and master their relationship.

 Promoting change within your company is about psychology and how to best tap into the needs and desires of your team, so that the change you are aiming to welcome into your organisation stays consistent and survives as new challenges arise. 

Productivity is about igniting certain mental pathways that allow us to feel we belong to a bigger picture when developing tasks. Most of us don’t change unless we are the ones leading that transformation. This is why as subjects of this process your company won’t thrive unless your team does.

When creating a culture, effective communication is key. I believe that the first thing to do is to highlight the need to change. If I were you, that is where I would start. I also wouldn’t be too precious about “owning” it. The best way people will change is if they believe it was their idea. So while you may introduce it, let others take it forward.

Many companies remain unproductive due to the fact that scaling up or even starting a company can be frustrating and frustration more often than not leads to procrastination and again breaks any chances of being productive or introducing systems to boost productive outcomes. 

This is why you need to always keep in mind that your organisational culture impacts the way each member of your team views performance. High-performance cultures foster high-performing team members, by adopting positive peer pressure strategies. This is key when working in high-pressure environments.

Another thing to keep in mind is that culture impacts engagement, which drives productivity. When a company shows high levels of engagement, this means that employees are treating the company as if they were actual owners of the company, and this in-depth care about the results, makes them remarkable.

Collaborative culture enhances productivity and while competition drives performance when it comes to culture it hinders productivity. This is why cooperation and collaboration need to get encouraged over competition between individuals.

Now that we have gone through the broader picture of culture building, let’s dive into the specifics, suggested by one of our consultants

  • Your first steps when creating or changing company culture should be reducing waste, reducing inflexibility, and reducing variability.
  • Check the reason for the variability: individual, skill, process (people, process, material, and information).
  • Create an SOP (standard operating procedure) for each process you do.
  • Once you have done that, you start tracking are there any improvements in the work?
  • When aiming to create change and identify weaknesses in your operations, without entering detailed considerations in terms of the different tasks of change management.

Another advisor suggests you would start the process with basic questions in order to sketch an appropriate overview:

  • What do I want to change?
  • Why do I want to change it?
  • When do I want it to change?
  • Who should be changing it with me?

A third consultant shares:

In my experience there are two main challenges in change management: the first one is related to the psychology of organisations, that is, the general behaviour of people when confronted with change and the second one is communication and the management of expectations due to the change itself.”

Besides the bookish remarks he also highlights something out of the personal experience:

It may be important to choose the right change agents, that is, individuals who possess certain skills such as emotional intelligence or proactivity BUT the factor X in the recipe, up to me, is to ensure that the chosen individuals, whoever they are, form a REAL network to drive change. As Andrew mentioned, it is indeed essential to make sure that keepers are part of the drive. One needs to avoid at any cost that change ends up being understood as “A taffy peddler does what he pleases”.

Regarding the second problem which is communication, it can be mitigated if you enforce an understanding of change management not as something that is happening in the organisation, in the sense of “it is being done somehow like a continuous process, i.e. the BAU of some team lost somewhere in the building” BUT  as a project, i.e., an exceptional effort in the organisation towards a given goal with a full-fledged project management strategy in place.

Next, I would like to give some advice on how to address different questions that may arise when considering all of the previously stated information.

 Do you have a framework that you currently use?

 You can create any framework as long as it contains the following boxes:

  • Understand deeply the technical aspects of the change (Subject Matter Experts will help you with that if you engage them);
  •  Plan for work and engagement with the 3 types of employees: early adopters, followers, and tradition keepers;
  •  Define the scope and budge
  • Plan
  • Establish governance and reporting

How should you approach the change in a company in order to make it happen?

You need to be prepared that there will be initial optimism, drop to disillusionment, and then up again – back to normal. It is different with each organisation but it is important to work with SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) in your Change Program. SMEs need to be seconded during the Change Program and perceive it more like a developmental benefit to the individual and the organisation, because of the different roles they are in.

Would you consider transparent communication around the change to be a good step or on the contrary?

Yes! I would definitely advise- if you have 5 or more people in the Change team- you need one person who will be doing only professional communication.

You always need (that can be somebody from marketing) to sense check the change program communication. And do not be shy- communicate every benefit and achievement.

While change can be costly, at Consulthon all the advisors booked in an on-demand advisory call can give you more in use value than the cash value of the 1-hour advisory call you pay for. Basically, we give to every client more than you take from you.

Let’s put it in a practical example: If the actions/ideas suggested during the call bring you thousands of £, you have not been wronged by us and the consultants who worked with you. Because we have given you a great use-value for a small cash value.

Consulthon is a UK Management Consulting expert network. Businesses can raise a Business Challenge and the network’s experts will brainstorm solutions. After selecting the answer they like the most, the business can book a paid one-hour advisory call and deep-dive session with that consultant. All the consultants are vetted by Consulthon and the platform offers businesses access to a wide range of skills, in a variety of sectors and countries.

In conclusion, these articles highlight the importance of building a productive workplace and enhancing company culture to optimise productivity. Mark McArthur-Christie emphasises the importance of questioning the status quo, while Deirdre Sheridan suggests personalised activities to enhance connectivity in remote teams Marieta Bencheva delves into the significance of culture, engagement, and collaboration in driving productivity. The article also provides practical advice on creating standard operating procedures and addressing variability. It emphasises the psychology of change management and the need for effective communication. Overall, the article shows the importance of understanding the relationship between culture and productivity and how implementing strategic changes can foster a high-performance environment.

If you are interested in reading more of our experts’ answers to “What is one change you recommend making to enhance culture and productivity?” Follow the link here to access them!

About the author: Tilly Little
Digital marketer at Expert Circle

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