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Last Updated on August 30, 2018

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Incredible Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Incredible Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, 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, Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls on 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 calls 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. Salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales calls 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 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 – 14 Proven 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 teams productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break down long term goals into smaller weekly objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. So 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 persons 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? Why is that?

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

You can do the same thing 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 by 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 evaluate your employees performance but you’re still not meeting goals, it maybe 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 individuals 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 employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. So 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 friendless, 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.

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.

You can try to make use of this self evaluation form.

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.

The trick is to limit these activities without becoming over-bearing 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.

11. Analyze new customer acquisition

Nothing comes free. We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep and 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.

So 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! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average and 50% are average.

So 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 times provide a more accurate assessment of a persons 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.

In consolation with you, they will design a complete analysis of your businesses productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestion 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 ways you can measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

The most important thing to remember when deciding on how to measure 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, having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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David Carpenter

Lifelong entrepreneur and business owner.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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