The #1 Productivity Tool: Meaning

Employee productivity can be positively affected in several ways – motivation, training and great workflow to name a few. But the best productivity tool that can be used for any team is meaning. When a set of tasks carry significance to the employee beyond the literal act of performing them, then they are meaningful. If an employee is performing tasks that have no significance beyond their literal act, they are meaningless.

Employees who have meaning in their work are motivated to execute with quality and at high levels of productivity. They are more apt to solve problems without escalation. They are also quite likely to create positive change.

The difference is easy to differentiate and the value of meaning is palpable, but most organizations do not treat it that way. Literally speaking, mail clerks put mail into slots, accounts payable clerks code invoices and sales engineers configure products. But if that’s how the employees see it they are likely performing poorly or looking for another job. However, if the mail clerk understands what his internal customer does with the mail after it is delivered, then he understands the significance of being fast and accurate. He can also resolve problems with the mail effectively and without help. And he can change mailroom processes and output to optimize his internal customer’s processes. He’s not just putting envelopes into slots or paper into scanners. He is starting a business process that is part of a value chain.

The same is true with the AP clerk and the sales engineer. If they understand the ultimate meaning of what they do, they are fulfilled and productive. If they don’t, they are miserable and subpar. This is true because humans are meant to serve increasingly greater purposes, contribute to a greater good, solve problems and improve things in their own unique way.

The first step in getting your team to increase productivity is to give them more meaning. Teach them their entire value chain one link at a time. The productivity increases will explode and never stop.

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