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Habit #4: Make Good Choices

What Are Good Productivity Choices?

Good choices help you head off — or recover from — efforts that may be intended to enhance productivity…but don’t. It’s not a matter of good tools and bad tools; the issue is right tools vs. wrong tools. Whether you’re choosing applications, platforms or management strategies, focus on the problem you’re trying to solve, the people doing the work and what they need.

The Right Choices Make Productivity Easy

When you think of “productivity tools,” you’re likely to envision a suite of apps that facilitate collaboration or maybe robotic process automation taking routine tasks off of human hands. But meeting an agency’s goals efficiently takes more than software. And the process starts long before you’re shopping for products and vendors. Spoiler alert: Productivity is about people.

Start With a Committed Team

“The first thing to ensure productivity is everyone being on the same page, understanding the common shared mission and making the conscious decision to opt in to get the job done,” advised G. Nagesh Rao, Chief Information Officer at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security. “If you’re opting in to be part of the vision, that’s going to be productive,” he said. “But if you’re opting out but still on the team, that’s not going to be productive.”

Fit the Tools to the Team and the Task

When it comes to improving and sustaining productivity, tailor apps and strategies for the people who will use them and the tasks they face.

“I think knowing your audience and knowing the capabilities of your audience” are essential, said Rao. “Collaboration tools like Teams and Slack have been advocated as helping increase productivity, and they can and do, but the question comes down to what is needed by your team to do what they need to do.”

When work is not going smoothly, Rao said he analyzes the problem with the team and asks, “What do you need?”

Facilitate Adoption

For an app or strategy to help productivity, employees must use it, Rao said. That means trying out the tools to prove their benefit and rolling them out step by step.

“You can put new tools out there, but if the folks are not willing to adopt and use them, it’s not going to work. You need evangelists to show how the tools can be useful and effective. If you just throw it out there and say, ‘We’re all using this now,’ it’s not going to work,” Rao explained.

Make the Transition Worth the Disruption

Ironically, new ways of doing things can reduce productivity before enhancing it. To minimize that risk, it’s not only important to choose the right tool, but the right time.

“We had rolled out a suite of new collaboration apps, and there was a lot of confusion. People

didn’t want to use it, not even videoconferencing, when they were used to just a phone number and a passcode,” he recalled.

Although training and support were available, “it’s more about people making the time to sit down and learn,” he said. In this case, the pandemic and mandatory switch to telework forced the learning curve. “Necessity is the mother of all inventions,” Rao said.

Be Patient

Of course, you can’t always count on a national emergency to push adoption. You’ll have to anticipate snags. Sometimes it takes patience for the wrong time to become the right time.

“I’ve seen cases where a tool was adopted more slowly, where people gravitated to it over time,” Rao said. Change is a constant — and so is resistance — but eventually, people come to accept what was once new.

“I think there will always be issues because we have a multigenerational workforce,” he said. “We have folks who are pre-technology and then we’ve got folks who are digital technology natives. There are going to be folks who adopt and adapt and those who will never want to adopt or adapt. But they’re all looking for the right tool to solve the problems.”

This article appears in our guide, “The 5 Habits of Highly Productive Agencies.” To learn about the other four habits, download it here:

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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