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One Small Action Separates Success From Mediocrity.

One Small Action Separates Success From Mediocrity.

To put this into perspective, first I’m going to tell you a story:

An aging farmer realized he was becoming too old to care for his farm, and was now ready to pass his farm down to one of his two sons. When he brought his sons together to discuss his decision, he told them: The farm will go to the younger son.

The older son was furious! “How could you not give the farm to me?! I have worked here longer!” he fumed.

The father sat patiently, thinking.

“Okay,” the father said to the older son, “I need you to do something for me. We need more stocks. Will you go to Cibi’s farm and see if he has any cows for sale?”

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The older son shortly returned and reported, “Father, Cibi has 6 cows for sale.”

The father graciously thanked the older son for his work. He then turned to the younger son and said, “I need you to do something for me. We need more stocks. Will you go to Cibi’s farm and see if he has any cows for sale?”

The younger son did as he was asked. A short while later, he returned and reported, “Father, Cibi has 6 cows for sale. Each cow will cost 2,000 rupees. If we are thinking about buying more than 6 cows, Cibi said he would be willing to reduce the price 100 rupees. Cibi also said they are getting special jersey cows next week if we aren’t in a hurry, it may be good to wait. However, if we need the cows urgently, Cibi said he could deliver the cows tomorrow.”

The father graciously thanked the younger son for his work. He then turned to the older son and said, “That’s why your younger brother is getting the farm.”

The reason why the younger son got the farm is because he was willing to do more than just the bare minimum. This virtue can be translated to any aspect of effort, whether it be school, your career, a passion, or a hobby. Those who are willing to go above and beyond will reap the benefits of their hard work.

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What Separates the Ordinary from the Extraordinary?

• To be a good worker, you must know how to follow instructions. To be a great worker, you need to know how to anticipate the next step. Many people passively wait for direction instead of taking the initiative to do more without having to be asked.

• Think back to when you were at school: when you were assigned an essay, more than likely you made sure to meet the requirements, the word count, and the information that had to be covered. But did you really put your heart into it? Did you think of how you were really going to rock this concept, leaving your teacher with a new perception of the topic? Did you consider how to structure the essay for maximum impact? It’s okay if you didn’t. You probably still got a good grade. But that essay will never be remembered.

• At work when you are given an assignment, you’re sure to meet all of the necessary requirements to fulfill the task. But do you think ahead to what the next step could be? Do you consider which aspects of the assignment could be revised for better accuracy? If you just do the bare minimum and wonder why you aren’t recognized or promoted, perhaps it’s time for some reflection.

• Successful people don’t just complete the task at hand, they think of ways to improve the work. This is how you get noticed. This is how you get ahead.

• Successful people ensure that they can get ahead by strategically planning the steps that must be taken to get to their ultimate goal.

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• Anticipate challenges and changes. Things don’t always go as planned, and you can’t freeze up when things don’t go your way. Instead, embrace the challenges and think of ways to overcome the obstacles. You will be noticed for your quick and strategic thinking.

• The thing that most separates the successful from the mediocre is identifying your weaknesses and finding ways to improve them and turn them into strengths. Successful people are always actively trying to improve, knowing that they could always do better. Complacency is the enemy.

• There’s nothing wrong with being average. If you’re comfortable and don’t feel the need to strive for more, that’s okay. But just realize that you will always stay at your current level, passively following directions, without ever contributing personal thoughts or insights. Your opinion will never be asked, your expertise will never be called upon. In the work force we call these people “bodies.” People who fulfill their job, but never go the extra mile, and never move up in their career.

Being successful is a choice. Most people don’t achieve the extra-ordinary by luck. They proactively take an extra step in order to get ahead. Many of us don’t have mentors to point out our weaknesses and show us how to improve. We must take it upon ourselves to identify those factors, and learn how to strengthen those loose ends.

How About Doing More Than You Think You Can?

The most successful leaders constantly ask themselves these questions to improve upon themselves, their product, and their brand.

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Business masterminds such as Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple Inc.) and Elon Musk (CEO and product Architect of Tesla, SpaceX and a number of powerful, influential companies) never settled after achieving the success of one product or project. Instead, they continued to strive for more. Each milestone is really just a stepping stone for what’s next. That is how these men managed to become so successful and influential. Strategic planning, and hard work.

You Have to Stand Out in Order to be Noticed.

It’s not enough to just want something. Everyone wants to get ahead, but few do because they don’t take the initiative to excel.

When trying to climb the corporate ladder, there’s an overwhelming amount of competition. You really have to make an impression in order to be noticed. Following directions and doing a “good job” won’t do that for you. Corporations need worker bees in order to make the business work, so you will be left right where you are. You need to prove that you’re a valuable asset, a force to be reckoned with. That is how to transition from being the one who follows orders, to the one who gives them. You need to have ideas, and not be afraid to set them into motion.

I worked in food service for most of my life as a cook. My ultimate goal was always to achieve Michelin status, and work in one of those super strict glimmering kitchens that most cooks only dream about. Finally, I got my chance. I went in for my interview with my sharpened knives and ironed uniform. The incredibly intimidating Chef took me into the walk-in fridge and told me to make anything I wanted. I panicked and came up with a very ordinary dish that included caramelized orange segments. I sprinkled the segments with sugar, and placed them in the broiler to caramelize the sugar, but it wouldn’t turn on. One of the line cooks handed me a blow torch, saying that they lit the broiler with it because the pilot was out. I took the segments out, and instead used the blowtorch to candy the oranges. To be honest, my plate alone probably wouldn’t have gotten me the job. But the quick thinking and problem solving is what got me recognized.

To be successful, you can’t be stagnant. You need to embrace challenges and think of ways to overcome them. Most importantly, you need to have the courage to excel. Success can be scary, because you need to commit to it; people look up to you. But you can’t wish your way to success. You need to work for it.

Featured photo credit: Solar Tribune via google.com

More by this author

Jenn Beach

Traveling vagabond, writer, & plant-based food enthusiast.

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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