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We’re almost at the close of 2011, and it’s been quite a year. If you’re like me, then a good rest over the holidays is badly needed. But what next? 2012 can be a GREAT year for us, when we focus on productivity.
I’ve just read a post on the Harvard Business Review blog, Five Things You Should Stop Doing in 2012, and it shares some great tips on how to sharpen up our productivity.
My two favorites are stop doing work that’s not worth it and stop making things more complicated than they should be.
For most people, their annual performance appraisal is due over the coming weeks (is yours?) This is an ideal time to bring up issues connected to the above points.
Over time, some tasks we’re doing lose their effectiveness, because the world moves on, and technology speeds things up (or makes tasks redundant). Often, though, these tasks aren’t reviewed to ensure that they’re a good use of our time. These things might be stock-checks, or regular meetings… you’ll know what you do that isn’t effective.
Use your performance appraisal as a point to ask “should I REALLY be doing this any longer?”
This is a powerful question.
And ally this to the second point. Tasks we regularly perform can become unnecessarily complicated, because the process is inflexible. Such as filling out paperwork that nobody reads, or sending out letters that clog up the mail-room. When a task is ‘new’, our competence in it is low, so check-sums and balances are used to help identify problems. But when we’re adept at a task, we no longer need those checks and balances.
I’m not suggesting that we take additional unnecessary risk; some things HAVE to be done to comply with regulations or policy.
What I am suggesting is you review the effectiveness of every sub-task (like filling out a section on a form) and review whether it really adds to the quality of your product/service, increases profit, or reduced risk.
And it’s OK to challenge policy too, if that policy is ineffective.
This is a powerful challenge.
So use your coming performance appraisal as a way of introducing these questions and challenges. Done objectively, it can be a powerful means of stimulating change, and innovation.