Do more with less. Keep up morale on an overstretched team. Become more efficient and productive. Oh, and make sure you don’t spend any money while working on that.
These sorts of pressures are nothing new for most government employees. And while these demands can seem overwhelming, they must be met for public servants to ultimately achieve their missions.
At our recent GovUp, we heard from productivity coach Amy Kelly. Kelly took the stress out of productivity goals by outlining a five-step model to what she calls “powerful productivity”. That’s productivity that not only achieves efficiency goals but also helps individuals stay engaged and encouraged with their work.
- Get To
The first step in Kelly’s productivity roadmap is all about reframing. “A lot of people say, ‘I have to go to work,’ when they talk about their job,” she said. But that simple statement often frames work as a negative endeavor.
Kelly encouraged everyone to rethink their approach to work. Think about what you get to do –what you love about your workplace and the job you fulfill. “Calibrate your attitude and your mindset. Say ‘Today I get to go work and help serve the mission of government,’” Kelly encouraged.
Not only will this approach help you reframe an integral part of your day to be positive, it will also encourage others at your workplace to view it the same exciting way. “Very intentionally define your ‘get to’ and that will impact both your productivity and other’s productivity,” Kelly said.
Once you’ve found that thing at work that makes you jazzed to be thre, clarify what success in that looks like. “If you don’t set a clear baseline, you can’t gauge anything,” said Kelly. “And once you’re clear, you have to stay focused.”
In a workplace, the first thing you should clarify is your job description. What are the objectives you have to meet in your role? Once those are clarified in conversations with your boss and peers, create an annual plan to meet those goals.
“I know this sounds obvious,” Kelly said. “But the more clear you can be with yourself and with your team, the more direct you can be. You’re less likely to let other things – new plans, new tasks – creep in and get you distracted.”
To make sure you’re staying on track with your clear objectives, Kelly said to prioritize every task, on a daily basis, against the clarity you’ve created for yourself and your team. If the task or job isn’t in alignment to your clear objectives, it needs to be rethought or discarded.
Finally, Kelly said to ensure you are regularly communicating the progress against your action plan – both for yourself and your team – to highlight successes and pinpoint where distractions are getting in the way.
That regular communication is one component of Kelly’s third step, which is to focus. Set reminders and checks to make sure you keep your eye on your productivity goals.
Kelly also suggesting creating a focus word to embody your objectives. Something like “yes!” or “breathe” to focus your intentions. Repeat that to yourself when you’re tired or in doubt to make sure you stay on course with your goals.
Similar to starting a rigid exercise routine, the focus it takes to become productive doesn’t come naturally for everyone. That’s why Kelly encouraged people to consciously dedicate themselves to their objectives. That means purposefully reminding yourself of your “get to” on a daily basis.
It also involves asking for support. Share your focus words and objectives. Then, ask your peers in professional and personal circles to hold you accountable, especially in moments where you’re tired or less focused.
Finally, encourage that same dedication in others. Kelly calls this the “No Complaining Rule!” in which you both model and encourage positive focus among team members. Commit to never complaining in front of colleagues. Additionally, make it clear you’re not open to having complaints in the team environment. Reframe any negative comments toward positive and result-oriented actions.
Finally, Kelly reminded our audience that the path to productive takes time. “Always remember this is a one percent thing. It will happen over time for you and for your team,” she said.
Finding what works to create your own productivity requires thoughtfully iterating these steps, tweaking what doesn’t work and doubling down on successful tactics. “Work the system and continually improve your process,” Kelly concluded.