Over the last few days I have become much more aware of all the things that can get in the way of personal productivity - and by implication workgroup productivity. You see, I've had something akin to the flu.
Nothing makes you appreciate how productive you can be when you are well as coming down with the flu. For three days I did not feel like talking to anyone, or thinking, or even reading a book. That started me thinking about how many obstacles there are to being truly productive. If you think about an average person, you realize how many factors there are that can distract or pull on someone's time. In my case, personal illness wiped out two or three days worth of work. I cancelled several meetings and had to postpone a business trip. In other cases, illness in the family, death of a loved one, a crisis in the family or so many other distractions keep people from focusing their attention on their jobs and processes.
What's more, things at work get in the way. Culture can become an impediment. Feeling slighted over someone's promotion. Corporate bureacracies and red tape. Politics and favoritism can all become distractions and limit our productivity. What's more, since we are all linked together in business processes, if one person in the process is distracted or limited, then the process and the people associated with that process suffer.
We as business owners and managers cannot remove all the factors that get in the way, but we can extend to our employees and workers the knowledge that while the business is in business to make a profit, everyone should work to live, not live to work. No one will ever say on their deathbed that they wished they'd spent more time at work. We as business owners and managers need to help people sort out their priorities and understand what's important. It's no good to us if people show up to work who are too ill or too distracted to function appropriately. Likewise, we need to have the courage to remove those individuals who cannot function appropriately or adequately.
When you get right down to it, there's a lot of stuff that stands in the way of productivity. We can't remove all of the roadblocks, but we can recognize that they exist and help people overcome them or at least put them in perspective.