So, upper management is asking you to calculate your team’s productivity, huh? While I’m sure your response to them was “Sure, no problem!” I’m also sure that you started thinking: “how on earth am I supposed to do that?!”
Now if you worked in a manufacturing environment or sales, the task of calculating team productivity is much easier. You already have the numbers, you just need to calculate production (or quantities, sales, meetings, etc.) per time or resource.
But what if you worked in HR or Software Development where numbers are not exactly a daily occurrence? Things aren’t quite as black-and-white there, and a little creativity is needed to calculate team productivity.
Okay. Less talk. More action! Let’s get to it.
Team productivity means different things to different people, departments, and industries. But regardless of what you do, you should remember that productivity is not profitability, nor is it just a simple measure of output. After all, what use is it if you were productive but not efficient, effective, nor adding value?
The ugly truth is no one cares. No one cares if you got 200 contacts if you can’t qualify any of them as leads. No one cares if you had 12 meetings if none of them turned into a sale. No one cares if you wrote 7000 lines of code for a feature if it’s never going to be used. No one cares if you did a job analysis for every single position in the company if the results are just going to end up on a piece of paper.
No. One. Cares.
All you want to care about when talking about team productivity is how much quality work they can produce within a reasonable (or acceptable) amount of time.
Productivity, “the measure of the efficiency of a person, machine, factory, system etc., in converting inputs into useful outputs” (from the Business dictionary). So how does this translate tangibly into the working world? Well, behind every piece of equipment, strategy and sale lies some type of human involvement.
So now that we got the general definition out of the way, it is time to get creative and figure out a way to measure the productivity of your awesome team. Now this isn’t an exact science (if it were, I wouldn’t be needing to write this post), but I have consulted several managers and business owners and have developed a 4-point guideline.
Here it goes:
The first logical step to calculating team productivity is defining what team productivity means to you. And you can do that by asking yourself the following questions:
For example, you want your team of developers to implement a new system, and you want the implementation to be completed in 6 months. You have your ultimate goal, and your timeline, now you just need to gather what it will take to achieve that ultimate goal.
Which takes me to the next point on the list.
We just agreed that your team of developers will be considered “productive” if they implement a new system in 6 months.
But are you really going to wait 6 months before you evaluate how the project is going? What if you get there and the implementation is not done? Or was released with a hundred bugs?
Following up with your team is clearly crucial to be a great manager, but creating mini-goals for your team will not only help you calculate their productivity, but it will also help them become more productive.
Split your ultimate goal into several mini-goals or projects. Set a shorter deadline for each goal, and track your progress.
This point can be especially effective if your team is motivated by short-term goals. Consider assessing their motivation and give them what they need to stay at the top of their game.
Now onto point 3.
Do your research. Chances are that someone, somewhere, is (or was) in the same boat you’re in right now. See what they did; How did they calculate team productivity? What did team productivity mean to them? What was their result?
Gather information from others in the industry, from your organization, and from historic data of your team. Use this information to create and identify a benchmark of what it means for a team to be productive.
Ahhh… The perfect match! And I am not referring to love, here. But when you’re desperate to find the perfect candidate for a job, you might just sound as hopeless as someone who has been trying to find love for years.
Of course this point is important, and you might even think that it’s not worth mentioning. After all, we are talking about how to measure team productivity.
But while the act of measuring seems intuitive, the importance of it might not be as clear.
In jobs and industries where team productivity is not quantitative, measuring constantly and consistently provides you with the relativity you need to produce a quantitative measure for a qualitative value.
In other words, when you can’t calculate an output/input value for the productivity of your team, you can calculate a value for one week’s productivity relative to another. Was your team more or less productivity this week compared to last week? How much more (or less) productive were they?
Be sure to measure constantly over a consistent period of time (weekly, biweekly, etc.) to ensure the data you’re measuring makes sense and is more useful.
And there you have it! Your guideline on how to measure team productivity. Define your ultimate goal, and set several specific and attainable short-term goals that you need to achieve your ultimate objective. And as long as you identify your benchmarks and measure constantly and consistently, measuring team productivity will become nothing but a breeze.
Do you have some advice on how to measure team productivity? Please share in the comments!