What is Productivity?

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  • August 13, 2012

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The success or otherwise of every organization or individual is predicted by her productivity. Productivity is a field of management that has gained wide interest and contributions from many management experts over the years. According to Azhar Kazmi (2008), productivity is the measure of the relative amount of input needed to secure a given output. The Encarta Premium (2009) puts it as the relative efficiency of economic activity—that is, the amount of products or services produced compared to the amount of goods and labor used to produce it.

But I choose to define the term ‘productivity’ from a more holistic perspective, using an example from nature – the plant. When you plant a seed, the seed must have in it the potential for it to produce. That is, it must be viable. Then, it must also recognize the resources that are available for it in the soil in which it is planted, and do all it can to maximize the resources of that soil. And, gradually, it grows through different phases (which we shall discuss in subsequent episodes).

In the light of this, productivity can be described as KNOWING WHAT you have and USING what you have in DOING what you have to do, WHEN, WHERE, and HOW you have to do it, in order to get the RESULTS that you truly DESIRE. This helps to understand the fact that a plant does not WISH itself to be productive. Rather, it WILLS itself. We often employ the wrong people and wish that they can adapt to the requirements and responsibilities of their roles. Companies often adopt the wrong processes and practices and wish that they can outfox the competition. Employees too often deploy less of their potentials and wish they can climb the career ladder fairly easily. If the plant is not right, it can never be productive.

KNOWING – Productivity starts with knowing. This is the consciousness of one’s strengths and weaknesses, and being deliberate in the mustering, mastering, and maximizing of one’s strengths. If an organization is unaware of her strengths, it would never be productive. If an employee is not aware of his strengths, what else can he bring to the table? Everyone – individuals or institutions – need to ask periodically: who are we? What do we have that can distinguish us from the competition? What is available for me in this company that I can deploy in maximizing my potentials and optimizing my profits? You cannot grow beyond what you know. To find out more on knowing, read How Imagination Affects Productivity.

USING – It is great to know. But if you don’t use your knowledge, it becomes futile and the end result is frustration. I see a lot of frustrated employees and employers everyday simply because they lack the cunningness and the courage to deploy and employ their resources. Most of the times, this is a result of personal issues which the employee either is unaware of, or simply chooses to ignore.

WHEN – There is always a right time for every activity. Many organizations have not mastered the art of maximizing the time spent by their staff. Some overdo this, merely occupying the staff with work that has no reflection on the bottom line. I once worked in a consulting firm, where the MD also runs a bookshop in a separate office. Occasionally, when there seems to be no station to visit, instead of engaging the consultants in a brainstorming session, she would give them the task of cleaning and arranging books in the bookshop, though there are bookshop staffs. Some have even lost the wherewithal to gainfully engage their staff to make every minute of their stay on the job count. Effective job description, distribution and time management, more often than not, may just be the difference between a strong and a weak opposition.

WHERE – The place is as important as the people and the product. The right person in the wrong place may be as great a disaster as the right product in the wrong place. People adapt to job roles, not necessarily based on their temperament, (unlike what we have been made to believe) but based on their Productivity QuotientTM (PQ). If someone’s PQ is not suited for a particular job, she can never produce at her maximum – if at all. Where you choose to sell your products determine a great deal the amount of effort you’d invest and the returns you’d get. Square pegs can never be best fits for round holes. It takes more effort to trim the edges than to find round and fitting pegs.

In this edition, we have considered the meaning of productivity, and the broad terms that are involved in its description. Next week, I’d be concluding and completing the rest of the terms, and opening you up to another interesting topic.

Till we meet again, do have a productive week.

To your productivity,

d . a . b



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–  Productivity QuotientTM (PQ) is a Trade Mark of Soar Africa Training Resources. We can conduct in-house assessment on your staff to measure their individual PQ and their consequences on the organizational productivity.

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1 Comment
Doyin ojo
August 13, 2012 Reply

Words r nt enuf 2 discribe aw powafu nd touchin ds write up is. Al dis cn b compiled in2 a bk 4 easier reference. D source of ur inspiratn wi nt run dry. I si soarin 2 places if u faint nt.

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