5 things you think improve performance but actually destroy it

#1 Rewarding busy employees 

So many companies confuse activity with productivity, people who appear to be the busiest are rewarded. Yet the people who are the most impactful are overlooked. This sends out all the wrong signals as employees will assume that the quality of their work doesn’t matter. It also means that those who ‘appear’ to be busy simply get away with wasting hours of valuable time. It is important to look at the outcomes of their work and assess if their ‘busyness’ really matches up to the output of their work. Try reading ‘Are you busy or just full of your own self-importance.’

#2 Having TOO MANY communication tools

Of course, we believe great communication is essential to run your business as efficiently and effectively as you can. However, when you have too many communication channels they can actually end up having a negative effect on workplace productivity. For example, say you have internal feeds like workplace facebook and instant chats, when employees are constantly getting interrupted by these it can mean that they actually never end up getting much work done.

The key is to strike a good balance, encourage necessary communication, not endless communication.

#3 Not having a ‘leader’

Of course, it is great when everyone’s opinions and thoughts are treated as equal. However, it becomes a problem when no one has anyone to look up to for direction. It can often result in a loss of productivity because no one ever makes the final decision. Lots of ideas are constantly flying around but there is no one to pin down the idea and lead with it to ensure work gets done.

When you don’t have a leader it can also mean that informal power structures start to form which can result in resentment and conflict. This is because in all systems where human beings are involved there are always power relations.

Not having someone to lead means you also don’t have someone who’s going to take action on poor performers. When someone in your team isn’t pulling their weight you look to your leader to have the awkward conversation with them. However, when no one is ‘in charge’ no one wants to have the awkward conversation meaning poor performers get away with doing minimal work. This is frustrating and demoralising for top performers as it sends the message that you tolerate lazy workers.

Tip: A great leader should coach and develop their employees, having a leader isn’t a problem it’s having a bad leader that is the problem. Read “Why Google are so good at ‘managing’ their staff.” For tips on how to become a better leader.

#4 Trying too hard to make work a ‘fun’ environment

Let’s be honest with ourselves here, work is called work for a reason. It is where you share a skill for the reward of payment. Now, of course, it should be enjoyed along the way and employees should like coming to work and be engaged with their responsibilities. However, it becomes a problem when it gets in the way of actually getting work done, or employees becoming annoyed when you crank up the productiveness levels and ask them to work a little harder.

Of course, it should work out that when your employees are engaged and enjoy coming to work they naturally work harder and perform better. However, we are all only human and can slip into laziness if we do not have some sort of check in from time to time. It should also be noted that employee satisfaction and happiness doesn’t translate to employee engagement, just because your employees are happy it doesn’t mean they are producing great work.

#5 Telling your staff what meaning they should have in their work

There are so many studies which emphasise the importance of employees understanding how their work connects to the larger company mission. This is so it gives them a sense of meaning and purpose which will make them more engaged in their role. We are not disagreeing with this statement however, we are disagreeing that it is the leader’s job to give their staff the meaning in their work. If you help employees understand their role better then they should naturally be able to define their own meaning in the work they do. This is better than you telling them what meaning they should derive from their role because this could skew their understanding of their responsibilities and end up distracting them even more.


Other posts that may be of interest to you:

6 things you think your staff love but they actually hate

8 horrifying things you should never say to your employees 

6 things sensitive staff need for a better employee experience

Written by Hayley Lloyd

Published 19th December 2018