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Seeking Greater Productivity? Consider “Wasting Some Time” with your Team and Clients

Our Productivity Quest - In today’s workplace, productivity is the name of the game. We are hired by our employers or engaged by our clients to produce a result and are expected to be efficient in doing so. A great question to ponder is whether an overemphasis on or preoccupation with productivity can sometimes be counterproductive. 

 In our fast paced, technology rich, get it done culture, we have increasingly become “transaction” centric. Our interactions with our friends, family, colleagues, and clients often center around getting what we want, or giving them what they want, quickly checking off the box, and then moving on to address the next shiny object on our plate. Taking a moment to at least minimally create or advance a relationship may be sacrificed in chasing a productivity goal. The paradox is that “wasting a little time” to develop relationships which in turn can yield a greater sense of trust can in the long run be a key to increased productivity.

The Hurried Workplace - In our interactions with our teammates or clients, do we: 

Give the impression that we are primarily concerned with limiting our “transaction” time?  Avoid taking the time to tactfully question what may be asked of us by a colleague or client in case there is a more effective product or service that can benefit them?  Overuse technology such as email or text messaging to avoid more time-consuming facetime with those we interact with because we have so many other important things to do?   When unplanned opportunities, perhaps masquerading as interruptions occur, adopt a mantra something like “be brief and be gone?”  Contribute to creating a culture that overemphasizes short term productivity over building longer term, authentic relationships that can in turn yield increased levels of trust?

The Economics of Trust - As Stephen M. R. Covey subtitled in his book The Speed of Trust, “trust is the one thing that changes everything.” He points out that the level of workplace trust always affects two variables: Cost and Speed. When trust increases, speed goes up and costs go down. When trust decreases, the converse occurs. If we think about a work situation or an organization in our experience that could be characterized as a “high trust” environment, we will often find low staff turnover, high customer satisfaction, high levels of employee engagement and collaboration. These characteristics positively affect the bottom line and are in stark contrast to low trust environments which often experience a productivity draining distrust surtax as day to day operations/processes take longer and require higher resource expenditures.   

Building Trust - There are of course many factors that can lead to increased trust but one of the most basic and logical ways to do so is to establish meaningful relationships with our team members as well as with our clients. Workplace engagement is seldom achieved through emails and memos. Instead, establishing and growing relationships…one person and one conversation at a time is key. And the opportunity to do just that is the purview of everyone in the organization, not exclusively of those in formal leadership positions.  

Let’s rethink what really makes us more productive and then consider wasting a little time with our team members and clients to develop those authentic workplace relationships which can in turn increase the trust factor and ultimately our productivity. Don’t have time to do that, then plan on spending some time dealing with the unintended consequences.  

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