Linked – The wrong way to define productivity

This seems like a pretty big disconnect:

Microsoft research shows 87% of employees say they’re productive, while only 12% of leaders are confident saying the same of their teams.

But maybe this is the biggest reason for that disconnect:

And since “productivity” in knowledge work is notoriously hard to define, the majority of leaders are defaulting to visible signals of inputs, not outcomes. Recent Slack research shows while productivity is the number-one concern for executives, 60% of their productivity metrics are activity-based: emails sent, hours worked.

As the article mentions, this is a big reason why return-to-office mandates have destroyed the trust between management and employees. When I’m happily working remotely, finishing all of my tasks and projects on time, connecting with the people I need to collaborate with just fine, and reporting on the status of my work using the tools available, and you turn around and tell me that I need to be in the office to be more productive, I quickly see that for what it is. Despite the results, you don’t trust people to do their jobs.

Not only do you not trust us, but you also have no idea what our jobs are. Do you think seeing us in the office after 5 PM equals productivity? It doesn’t. In fact, I recently came across this statement I made in a post a couple of years ago that I find very applicable:

If I don’t work 50-60 hours per week, but still complete the same amount of work that Joe and Sally take 60 hours per week to do, that makes me a more valuable employee, not a less dedicated one.

When you suggest that I’m not as dedicated, that destroys any trust we may have ever had. I often wonder what message these employers assume that they are sending when they reward and recognize not the people who get the most done but the ones who take the longest to do the work because the people on your team down in the trenches doing the work know who is getting things done and who is filling a seat for long hours. They no longer trust you, and you’ve made it clear that you don’t trust them.

If you want to talk about a good way to cause more turnover, quiet quitting, and disengaged workers, this would be the way.

Maybe you could figure out how to measure the things that matter instead.

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