Blog courtesy of Professional Development Coach at TDM, Melanie Eastwood.
Having a positive impact on our workplace through our role is a great daily goal to have. When we are productive and able to see the impact we have through the work that we do, it’s a huge motivator to keep pressing on and continuing that forwards career trajectory.
Why is this important?
To answer this question let’s take a quick step back in history to look at productivity in the UK.
In 1960, Britain had the highest level of productivity in Europe, measured in gross domestic product per hour worked — better than France, West Germany and Italy.
The UK has experienced a slump in productivity growth since the financial crisis that still shows no sign of coming to an end. The slowdown has been more acute than any other western country. Now, as you can see in the comparison chart below, the UK’s level of productivity is below the US, Italy, Germany, France and Canada.
One of the productivity problems often cited by employers is that too many UK workers have inadequate skills. In what came as a shock to the UK, the OECD found in 2016 that England had one of the largest proportions of low-skilled young workers among advanced economies. But even more worrying they established that young English workers were no more skilled than older employees, suggesting a high likelihood that weak productivity will be difficult to remedy in the coming years.
This is productivity gap is a huge issue and matters because it affects your future as an individual working in the UK. As the chart states – “Your action is needed to address current economic trends.” Achieving higher growth in productivity is the way nations become richer, living standards rise and governments have the resources to improve public services or cut taxes.
Let’s zoom in on the individual part we all play in narrowing this productivity gap.
Managers, mentors and business leaders are constantly looking to build their business and drive forward. The main and obvious way they do this is through their people. They actively identify high performers within the company and look to nurture and build them towards promotion or leadership positions. High performers are people who have no problem with going beyond their job description to demonstrate creative thinking and leadership potential. The people demonstrating these qualities will often become extremely valuable to the company and in turn place themselves on an upwards trajectory within the business.
These people gain impact by being a productive, high performing member of staff.
High performers are driven, determined and fully onboard with the mission and vision of the company they work for. They have usually found purpose in their work and operate from a position of continuous learning which is something we look to foster in all staff and learners at TDM.
As an apprentice you are in an extremely privileged position of having a individual learning plan, 2 coaches and a mentor alongside you in your job role. You are in a position to consciously plan in and build up high performance habits and a productive approach to your work as your build the foundation of your career.
An article written by the CEO of Classic Vision published by Forbes press highlighted what he viewed at The Six Traits High-Performing Employees Share.
Are they good at their jobs? How do you measure their skills in order to feel confident that they are good at their jobs? Is what you are measuring subjective or is it based on objective facts?
2. Good Intentions
Someone who doesn’t have good intentions might gossip about their peers or customers. Someone with good intentions stops the gossip and rumour mill in the office. Managers look for teammates who are aligned with how you want your business to run. This can change based on what you value in your culture.
Is the person on time every day? Can I trust them to get the job done when I delegate a task to them? Reliability is the cornerstone of a small business, since many business founders don’t have the luxury of hiring extra resources. If an employee can’t be relied upon to show up, be present and work hard, then they aren’t a good cultural fit for us.
Are they willing to learn a new way of working and not just rely on what they have done in the past? Are they willing to take feedback and learn from mistakes? Are they willing to say they are not good enough yet and keep striving for mastery of their work?
I look for employees who apologize for their mistakes and accept the apologies of others, are willing to do “lower level” work for the benefit of the team and are confident in their own ideas. Being humble does not mean taking credit for the work of the team or never being willing to apologize.
Hungry means they take initiative without being told. They look for teammates who need help. They are the first to volunteer for projects and want to be known as your go-to people. You know your employees are hungry when you don’t have to tell them to do more work. They will take it on themselves.
6. People Smart
Are your team members good at talking to peers, bosses and customers in a way that is professional, appropriate and demonstrates big-picture thinking? Someone who is people smart can deescalate an upset customer with ease versus making the situation worse.
Check out some additional top traits of high performers here.
If we desire to become a high performer within our role and push our career development forward, there needs to be a conscious plan in place that allows you to develop yourself to this end.
Active steps need to be taken to unlock high performance habits.
It helps to have application and a solid idea of how we can pivot and adapt our way of working to be more productive. I have found insights from the book “High Performance Habits: How extraordinary People Become that Way” by Brendon Burchard to be quite useful. Brendon is the world’s leading high performance coach and in his book he highlights key habits of high performing people in business and helps us think about the development and application of these habits.
Habit #1: Tension to Intention
Most high performers know they have the power to generate whatever feelings they want in any situation. High performers know they don’t have to carry around the emotions of the day. They don’t have sit back and hope to feel the way they want to feel.
Brendon says “It’s so thoroughly obvious that high performers are generating the feelings they want more often than taking the emotions that land on them.” Each transition during the day (work to home, school to gym, etc) is a chance to build the habit of releasing the tension and then setting an intention of the feeling you want to bring to the next situation.
Habit Sequence: When you transition from one situation to the next (or one work mode to the next), close your eyes and release the tension in your face, neck and shoulders. Then set an intention for how you want to feel by asking yourself: “What is the primary feeling I want to bring into this situation?”
Habit #2: Necessity through Identity
The feeling of necessity might be the most powerful feeling high performers choose to generate. Musician Bob Marley once said, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.”
High performers don’t hope they perform well. High performers create situations and mindsets where they must perform well. They do this by creating a sense of identity around their goals and processes.
When Brendon asks high performers why they work so hard or how they stay so focused, their responses often sound something like this, “It’s just who I am. I can’t imagine doing anything else.” Whatever your important goals (running a marathon, writing a best‐selling book, etc) are, form your identity around them. You’ll make progress a must, not a nice to have.
Habit Sequence: When you feel unmotivated to work, repeat the following statement to yourself, “This is who I am. This is what I do.” Cultivate a feeling of identity around your work process.
Habit #3: Bringing my ‘A’ Game
Our culture tells us that sense of purpose comes from “helping millions” or “changing the world.” However, Brendon Burchard has found that most high performers develop a sense of purpose by focusing on one person. Not millions, not even a group of people, just one person.
To find the person who will give meaning and purpose to your work, ask yourself, “Who needs my A game?”
Brendon Burchard says: “This question gets you looking beyond your individual performance or feelings, and it connects you with a reason to be your best for others. It helps you find somebody worth fighting for.
By asking this question, you stoke the necessity to be your best in order to help others, which allows you to hit high performance faster and stay there longer.” When you ask, “Who needs my A game”, you might think of a family member, a boss you like, a teammate in need, or a customer you want to help. Whoever it is, see their face in your mind’s eye. By doing so, you will tap into a reserve you didn’t know you had.
Habit Sequence: When feeling stressed at work, or you find yourself losing focus, ask yourself, “Who needs my ‘A’ game right now?” Think of a person worth pushing yourself for. By committing to develop high performance habits we are committing to a life of excellence.”
Give yourself time to reflect on these high performance habits and think about what goals you could set for your own productivity goals for your personal and professional development.
A great example of someone who has gained impact by being productive in their organisation is perfectly showcased in degree apprenticeship learner Joshua Childe. Josh started as a level 3 Infrastructure Technician and is
now undertaking the degree apprenticeship here at TDM with Overt Software. Josh has moved up through the ranks, taken on a lot more responsibility at work and today is a key player for the business.
Josh shared some advice on the value of “gaining impact by being productive” and his experience of work-based learning so far:
“When joining your new Employer, be optimistic and hit the ground running when given new tasks. It’s an excellent opportunity to learn and develop new skills, which will be valuable to your organisation and for your own overall experience.
Always have a positive outlook when faced with new challenges, no matter how big they may seem, as every new challenge comes with a learning curve! Try and identify weaker areas gathered from these tasks and be productive upon developing these to benefit yourself for the future.”
Josh was always proactive and took all possible steps to develop himself both technically and with professional attitudes and behaviors. He was always accountable to his skills coach, mentor and professional development coach and used their guidance to build his skills and value for his business.
If, like Josh, you want to focus on building your productivity at work and gain impact in your workplace by being productive, think about analysing the way your work now, trying out some of these habits and set yourself some personal goals. You can also take the opportunity to challenge your professional development coach Emma, Esme or Mel to come alongside you and help you set up a conscious plan to take steps towards this goal.
There are so many resources at your disposal, proactively step out to use them and do all you can to gain impact by being productive!