How to Fight Productivity Paranoia and Keep Your Teams Engaged
The specter of productivity paranoia is a feature of hybrid and remote leadership teams with no trust. We’re here to provide you with the tools to fight it!
Productivity paranoia is a new wrapper on a legacy issue - leaders distrust teams they can’t see.
See it as a negative, almost opposite attitude to “out of sight, out of mind”. These leaders see proximity bias as normal and acceptable and see remote teams as inherently incapable of doing high-quality work.
Sadly, these leaders are reflecting their lack of leadership confidence onto their teams, and basing their fears of low productivity on subjective ideas, rather than objective facts. Hence, the paranoia.
But there are ways to better manage a remote and in-house team together to reduce the worst productivity paranoia.
Expand the reach of psychologically safe places to work
Whilst productivity paranoia is ostensibly linked to subjective understandings of employee output, we believe that paranoia flourishes in dysfunctional workplaces that devalue psychological safety.
We believe workplace productivity is much more emotional than we give it credit for.
● Productivity, insofar as it's measured, it’s ultimately tied to how leadership figures feel about their teams, output, and targets.
● Productivity, insofar as it’s created by employees, is significantly impacted by how employees feel about their work, output, and sense of value.
Ultimately the idea of productivity is influenced by these subjective feelings around work: how trusted workers feel, how trusting management is, and how each workforce strata trusts each other to work to a high level.
“Psychological safety is the belief that you won't be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes."
Productivity paranoia is significantly reduced when leaders put in place productivity measurement strategies that focus on the emotional impact of workloads, via a continuous culture of feedback and peer review that encourages creative input, growth, and idea sharing.
See it as trust based on fact - if you create a safe workplace, and measure the right metrics, you’ll create a whole lot more trust.
Elevate transparency of decision-making and feedback
Transparency in decision-making doesn’t mean not taking responsibility.
In a turbulent economy, risk mitigation is one thing, but there are certain safe ways to de-silo decision-making that help reduce productivity paranoia.
One way of doing this is by creating a more eyes-on form of task management, focused on transparent access to project timelines that help in-office and remote teams, equally.
At LutherOne we are proud proponents of smart collaboration, where urgency and transparency of tasks are equally prioritized. Everyone knows what they’re doing when they’re doing it and why they’re doing it.
Another powerful way of elevating transparent decision-making is by, conversely, creating a porous culture of feedback via peer surveys. Our engagement surveys offer maximum organizational flexibility in creating anonymous or open surveys, designed expressly to challenge and perfect leadership and worker performance. This, in turn, helps people make better decisions, overall improving performance and productivity.
Outcome-based measurements and judgments
Focus on outcome measurement, not input judgment.
By this we mean focus on what really matters - the outcomes of people’s labor, not the way they worked in achieving it.
The remote working age has taught us that everyone works differently. There are those who are proud asynchronous workers and those who are timeline-dedicated. Some are visual learners, and others are more kinesthetic.
Micromanagement of teams - especially remote teams - exacerbates productivity paranoia, so we urge every leader to pivot how they measure team performance.
Focusing on goals - which is made easier by revamping performance management, and changing your reward and recognition culture to truly value output - massively reduces any paranoia around whether teams are or aren’t productive by helping clarify how labour = outcomes.
The last but by no means least important weapon in your war against productivity paranoia is actually the easiest - communicate!
We can talk about modern performance management techniques and de-siloing workflows to the ends of the earth, but the most powerful tool in your productivity armament is simply talking to your teams.
Of course, the rise of hybrid work has reduced borderless communications like you get in an office, so leaders need to be hyper-vigilant at keeping every door open.
Establishing a culture of open communication means focusing on open cultures of performance feedback (both peer-to-peer, bottom-up, and top-down). This is the first step towards creating a sense of value and trust between teams and up and down the leadership hierarchy.
Let people know you know how and why they are working and striving, and you’ll see your worries about productivity fall by the wayside.