“You can only be productive if you sit in one position for eight hours a day.”
“You can only be productive if you keep your ideas to yourself and do what you are told.”
“You can only be productive if you make a to-do list each day and tick off everything when you log out.”
Are you one of those managers that believes in certain rigid ‘sayings’?
Well, let’s blame it on the pandemic that has changed the way we function.
Organizations across the globe that were forced to adapt to remote working have been facing numerous challenges. And managers across the globe are struggling to keep their teams going. Right from ensuring that the goals are met, to keeping the team motivated, from being accountable for every job not done and to firefight the smallest of escalations, a manager indeed has a lot on their plate.
And this very sentiment could lead you to believe that ‘Certain things are meant to be done in a certain way.’ Well, I disagree. Here are five myths that the ‘pandemic’ could have probably tricked you into believing.
#1: Remote working demands embracing a hustle culture
Really? Haven’t you heard the classic old phrase that ‘All work and no play will make Jack a dull boy?’ A hustle culture means having work ‘constantly’ on your mind; leaving no space or scope for unwinding and socializing (even with your loved ones). Agreed that remote working is by default pushing us towards working longer hours, but that doesn’t indicate increased productivity. Asking your team to send in a presentation after the official working hours is not just unethical, but will also lead them towards a burnout, faster. Build your own emotional resilience and sensitize yourself to sentiments. Being empathetic is the key.
#2: Putting more pressure will make the team work faster
Wrong. Unrealistic expectations will only lead to absenteeism and attrition faster than micromanaging. The pandemic has caused people to subconsciously get into the mode of ‘panic productivity’ – Some work to survive, some to stay busy, while some, to regain control. Adding pressure without supporting it with a transparent communication or a direction, will only worsen the situation. Instead, use a priority matrix to define the common goals and help the team align. Make individual productivity a subset of organization productivity and remind the team of the larger purpose. Help them plan their work, have one-to-one conversations beyond work, channelize your energies towards engagement, and make efforts towards collaborating as a team, rather than working in silos.
#3: Multitasking gets the desired end result
False. Studies have proven that multitasking leads to a 40% reduction in productivity, limits your attention span, damages your brain and impacts your IQ. Sometimes, it even prompts one towards cheating as a quick fix to getting the task done. Multitasking creates a delusion that you are being ‘highly productive’ and is in fact addictive. Not only does it take a toll on our ability to prioritize, but also leads to a deficiency of detailing while switching tasks. Listening to music while cooking or driving may feel soothing, but working on a presentation while participating in a virtual team bonding session beats the purpose, doesn’t it?
#4: Having a ‘bad day at work’ is just an excuse not to work
Absolutely, not! The work burnout syndrome is official. Microsoft's Work Trend Index stated that 29% of workers in India faced an increased burnout due to the pandemic. Juggling work and home has always been hectic, now more than ever. And a workplace culture that does not thrive on recognition and appreciation can indeed prove to be harmful. Have you considered offering a wellness program instead? It’s high time to take your team’s well-being more seriously and invest in nurturing their emotional health. Understand the root cause of the ‘bad day’ and address it objectively.
#5: Asking for help shows weakness
Says who? Most of the time, managers are thrust upon with the onus of getting things done and end up being overburdened, themselves. It is completely natural for you as a manager to feel the need of taking a break. Speak with your team, discuss your concerns openly and ask for solutions. The response might just surprise you. Your team is more loyal than you think. Put an end to your apprehensions and reach out for help when it gets too much. Because only a happy manager can positively impact the team’s engagement and productivity.
The bottom line is that obsessing over productivity is bound to impact creativity. Managers end up micromanaging and subconsciously add more pressure instead of relieving it. Creating a productivity matrix will help track efficiency, provided the factors included in the matrix are diverse and holistic. For example, if you count the amount of work done, also consider counting the amount of time spent in brainstorming. Because productivity is personal – to each their own. Besides, being productive does not mean getting ‘everything’ done. It means ‘getting it right’, even if you do just one thing a day.