Productivity Management: The Prodigious Productive

“When employees and employers, even coworkers, have a commitment to one another, everyone benefits.” — Donald Trump

“You can lead an employee to water, but if you find one who knows a better path to the water, shut up and get a bucket.” —business writer Dale Dauten.

Last but far from least, let’s take a look at the ultimate employee category in my Productivity Management Matrix: the Productives. These are the extraordinary people who manage to combine high engagement with high performance in a synergistic way that makes them the superstars of just about any organization.

How to Spot a Productive
Productives are the employees you wish everyone could be. The combine a firm sense of engagement with high performance, making life easier for everyone else on the team—which usually makes them easy to identify. Just look for the pleasant individual who loves their job and turns in stellar results, usually on time and under budget.

But be careful here. Not all Productives are loudly gung-ho about the company…which makes it easy to misclassify a quiet Productive as a Defector. Some people just don’t show a lot of emotion, and if they’re not especially social, it can be hard to determine their allegiance. This requires you to put your eagle-eyed management skills into play to determine how the quiet, high-performance employee actually feels.

How a Productive Can Impact Your Team
Productives are good news all around. They don’t complain much, because they enjoy their jobs, and you rarely have to worry about the quality of their work, because it’s generally high. You can count on Productives to get the job done, so they tend to get all the critical assignments. If a team is comprised primarily of Productives, then it works like a well-oiled machine with a minimum of oversight.

Ironically, the Productive’s industriousness can cause minor negative issues. Some of your problem employees may sneer at Productives for being suck-ups or for making them “look bad,” since Productives are often found happily doing their jobs, and doing them well. But you shouldn’t care what the problem employees think, unless they’re dragging down performance and engagement in other employees.

How to Handle a Productive
Treat a Productive with kid gloves, because they’re worth their weight in gold. First of all, don’t overload them with work. Just because they’re good at their jobs doesn’t mean they can do it all; and if you give them too much to do, their performance will certainly suffer. Worse, too much stress and exhaustion can hurt the morale of even the finest Productive, turning them toward the Dark Side…that is, toward the Defector quadrant.

Being the highly-engaged individuals that they are, Productives may not let you know if their workload gets a little heavier than they like, so keep an eye out for signs that they’re struggling. If it seems they are, approach them and ask them whether you need to rebalance their workload. Gently pressure them to be honest with you.

How to Coach the Productive
While you don’t want to spoil a Productive, you should try to give them whatever they need to keep them happy. That won’t necessarily be more money. A Productive often just needs to know that they’re valued, and that they have the opportunity to advance in your organization. This is where your coaching should turn toward career enrichment, in which you take a direct hand in helping one of these high-caliber individuals move up in the organization.

In its simplest form, this might involve classes and training in the specific elements of the workplace that the Productive is interested in or aspires to. You can also start assigning new, unfamiliar tasks to the Productive, so that they can acquire new job experiences as they move forward. A particularly effective technique that they might enjoy is called “job shadowing.” This practice allows the Productive to walk through the workday with a competent worker in the position they’re interested in. They don’t do any of the work themselves, but they do have the opportunity to experience the work environment and watch a pro in action.

Ultimately, just knowing they have the opportunity to rise in the organization, and that you’re doing all you can to help, will keep most Productives happy. Eventually, they may move up; or they may not. That should be their choice. Just don’t try to hold them in one place, or you could lose them.

In Conclusion…
In a perfect world, everyone would be a Productive. In the real world, the Productive is the model of the ideal employee, the paragon that all other workers should aspire to be. When you find a Productive (or when you’re trying to help someone rise to the Productive level), handle them with care. Give them what they need and want, so they can grow into their full potential.

Build your organization around your true Productives. These people act as the hub that keeps everything from flying apart—the very foundation upon which you erect a successful business team. If you can help them remain happy and dynamic, they’ll make your organization skyrocket into the stratosphere.



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