Regardless what area they work in – data processing, sales, or nurses on hospital floor -some people just produce more than others. Especially in those fields where we can easily track results, such as in sales, managers can see this on daily basis.
In every salesforce there are two sales people in the same city selling the same product or service to the same clientele and one of those will out produce the other – three or four to one. Most of us in management have been frustrated and even little bit mystified by this phenomenon. We look at our people and ask “What’s the difference?”
Certainly our higher performers don’t look better than the others.
Neither are they more intelligent and they don’t appear to work any harder, so what is the difference?
What makes them better?
People have written thousands of books about it, but there’s no great mystery. Sure, many factors influence success, but the basic reason most people get ahead is that they do good work.
Yet work habits are only the tip of the iceberg. The challenge of increasing productivity is understanding what underlies the work habits and how and why people develop them.
Activity isn’t the key
We fail to help people because we focus only on the activity they should be doing, and the results we want.
Knowing that performance comes from behaviour (or activity) we assume that employees will follow progressively from activity, to habits, to results. But we ignore basic factors that influence people to engage in activities and form habits.
Two examples from Denis Waitley’s book The Double Win illustrate the point.
Robert had many reasons for marrying Pauline, and her cooking was in the top 10. It was, therefore, some time before he gathered the nerve to question strange habit he had noticed: Each time she cooked ham, she would first cut off both ends. When he finally asked her why, she answered, “That’s the way my mother did it”.
Not totally satisfied, but unwilling to press her further, Bob waited until the next visit to the home of Pauline’s parents. He posed the same question to Pauline’s mother, and she replied cheerfully “Why, that’s the way my mother always cooked it”.
Determined to get to the bottom of the culinary mystery, Bob stopped by after work to visit Pauline’s grandmother and casually broached the subject: “Why do you cut the ends off ham before you bake it? I’m just curious,” he smiled.
She looked at him suspiciously and replied “Because my baking dish is too small!”
Just like Robert’s wife, we develop many of our behaviour patterns through imitating and identifying with the values and attitudes modelled for us.
The same is true in sport. As young boy PGA touring pro Gene Littler would watch great golfers play. He took lessons from great teaching professional and learned the correct execution for each shot in the game.
The great attitudinal skill that set Littler’s self-image as youth was his ability to recognise the effort required and his willingness to pay the price of practising winning on and off the golf course. He knew the saying that applies to every skill, every sport, every business, and every high-performance situation in life.
“You’ve got to learn the correct swing before you can play the game.”
When, Littler would hit bad shot, you could overhear him making corrections with positive self-talk: “That’s not like you, keep your head down and follow through.” When I saw him hit an outstanding shot, right to the pin, I heard more positive self-talk: “Good, that’s more like it. Now we’re in the groove!”
It’s more than external
By simply dealing with the external you can’t inspire people to develop the habit patterns of success or increase their productivity. If this were possible, anyone could manage successfully, but most people cannot.
Productivity increases as managers increasingly understand the human factor and deal with attitudes, fears, motivational blocks and the phantoms that lurk in the minds of people.
Increased productivity is the direct result of an individual’s thinking. It’s the notion that if they don’t think they can succeed, help is at hand to teach them, and the task is deemed useful and valuable.