I have said may times in this blog that expecting higher productivity through exhortation is unlikely to be successful.

Organisations or nations need systematic processes that address the causes of low productivity – and actions to reverse or eliminate those causes.

In addition, though, employees need decent work to do … they need clear tasks which they understand and where they also understand the role of their tasks in the greater scheme of things… i.e. they should understand their role in fulfilling customer needs.  Without this knowledge, they are unlikely to be self-motivating.

Of course they also need the skills to be able to carry out their role effectively.The organisation must make sure these skills are fully developed.

If the organisation can also give employees some understanding of the drivers of high productivity, or the causes of low productivity, so much the better.  They can then be engaged as part of the productivity effort, discussing how their role can be improved – and helping investigate potential changes to working systems, processes and working methods that offer the potential for higher productivity.

The organisation should also help them to set their own targets, secure in the knowledge that those targets are not sub-optimal, causing problems elsewhere.

This is starting to sound complicated but it is actually quite simple.

Give people decent work to do, give them the skills they need and involve them in potential improvements.  Make the changes with them, not to them.