Productivity is considered to be the holy grail these days, both in personal development contexts and corporate environments.
But how well do you really understand it?
And, more importantly, how well do you know how to measure productivity in your team?
Although I’ve been managing teams for years now, I’m still learning about how to measure and maximize productivity. It starts, of course, with taking a data-driven approach and focusing on specific KPIs.
But in this article, I want to hone in on the finer details in order to help you to measure productivity more accurately within your team.
What Is Productivity?
Taken at a larger scale, productivity is the efficiency with which organisations, institutions and firms can take input, such as investments or labour hours, and transform it into output, like final products or services.
That’s how economists look at the term. And it’s what people understand when they mention productivity in a scientific article. For our purposes, we’re going to narrow that definition a little bit to only talk about the productivity of individual team members, and your team as a whole.
So in short, productivity is how efficient your team is with their resources. If your design team is taking less hours than the norm to output a brand guideline, it’s a productive team. If an individual developer can’t get around a bug in a few days, when that bug could’ve been fixed much faster, that individual developer is not as productive.
Sure, that’s just an example, and you can never view the term so black and white. But it’s a good starting point to understand what we’re talking about.
So how do you go about measuring it?
How To Measure Productivity With Simple Methods
To get started with measuring productivity, you need to have the right mindset. You should be focused on efficiency, and default to data to make changes about your workflow or team, but you shouldn’t be too rigid. And that’s especially important if your team is doing creative work, because it’s not as straightforward as loading boxes on a platform.
You need balance.
But don’t worry, because I’ll show you how to achieve it.
Method #1: Track Time And Use Project Management Software
Let’s get something out of the way first: There’s no universal benchmark for how long a task should take. Designing a logo, for example, is something most designers can do. However, depending on the task complexity, the experience of the designer and a lot of other factors, different market agents will take longer to complete that task.
That’s why you can’t just state “Task X takes 1 day to complete” and use it as a point of reference for the productivity of your team.
You need to adapt to what your team can do.
So the first step is to track the time your team takes to do stuff. Ask them to keep track, at least in terms of hours, of how much they spend on specific tasks, so you can approximate how much those specific tasks should take in the future.
For example, let’s say you run a marketing agency. Ask your copywriters to track how much it takes them to write 1000 words for each type of deliverable they usually write. Then use that as a reference point for how productive they are in the future. Rinse and repeat for all of your team members, and you get a reference point.
Sure, it won’t be extremely accurate, and you shouldn’t fuss if a 3 hours task takes one whole day. Obstacles sometimes appear. But if a one day task ends up taking up a whole week of your employee’s time, you can investigate further. That way, you can measure productivity in your team.
Another tip that goes hand in hand – use a project management software like Monday, Asana or Trello. Some of these even have built-in tools to measure the amount of time spent on a specific task, and even if they don’t, they make it easy to track all tasks. Plus, most of them have an analytics dashboard, allowing you to take a closer look at the productivity of your team.
However, this is a rudimentary way of measuring productivity. It doesn’t really take into account time spent brainstorming, or doing creative work, so let’s look at some alternatives.
Method #2: Measure Profit Generated
Another thing you can do is tie profit with the hours spent by your employees doing specific tasks. If they onboard new clients, generate sales, retain customers, or manage to increase the efficiency of your processes, they’ll be doing a good job.
There are a lot of ways to go about this, and it has a lot of benefits. For example, a copywriter may spend a lot more on a sales page than it usually takes him to write a single landing page. But if it’s for a big client, and it keeps that client happy, you know the copywriter is still productive, even if he spent way more time than usual on a task.
This productivity measurement can also benefit sales agents a lot, as it’s easiest to tie profit to their work.
On top, you can tie this with the hours worked benchmark to achieve a better overview of how productive your employees are. However, it’s not everything you can do.
Method #3: Daily Check-ins
So I’ve shown you how to measure productivity in simple situations, with time spent on tasks, and in more complex situations, when you have to take creativity and task complexity into account.
All of those are great ways to proceduralize mature enterprises. However, if you’re just getting started you might want to find easier, less rigid ways to check-up on your team. In that case, a simple daily check-up to see that your team is productive can go a long way, especially when everyone’s working remotely.
You can do this with a simple huddle each day, a check-up email, or even a simple spreadsheet covering everyone’s tasks. If you’re not at a stage when you want to measure each hour, and if your employees have to wear multiple hats to get the job done, it’s more efficient to do it this way.
However, you’ll notice that it is time-consuming, and if your team is growing this strategy won’t be sustainable. That’s when you’ll want to revert back to the other methods outlined above.
I hope this article helped you learn a bit about how to measure productivity in your team. There are a lot of other ways, so this piece can be expanded a lot, but these are the methods I’ve had success with. Plus, they’re easy to implement, so you’ll be able to hit the ground running.
What do you think? Will you do any of these? What other methods do you use to measure productivity?
Let me know in the comments section below!