Natural-born IT productivity killers

If one of these characters is your boss, you have our sympathies

Everybody wants to get more bang for the buck from their workforce. But some common strategies for boosting production may actually lower it in the long run. Managers who adopt these strategies think they’re helping, but they’re really not. See if you recognize yourself (or your boss) among these productivity killers.

The Slave Driver: You’ve put vacations on hold, implemented pizza “parties” so people will work through dinner, and hinted that anyone who wants a promotion had better start camping in their cubicles on weekends. Productivity zooms — for a while. Then employees start leaving in droves, with your best people leaving first. A better idea, says Chaco Consulting’s Rick Brenner, is to eliminate wasteful or unnecessary tasks. You’ll be more productive, and voluntary turnover will drop.

The Juggler: Some organizations believe it’s better to start a lot of projects at the same time to achieve “parallelism,” Brenner says. But high project count leads to productivity losses as people constantly switch gears. “We do better when we focus our resources,” he says.

The Techno-Fixer: New IT automation tools may look all shiny, but you’d better make sure they’re compatible with the processes and people you already have, warns Tom Bishop, CTO for enterprise software vendor BMC. “Rolling out a new IT automation tool without understanding how people will react to it is often a recipe for disaster,” he says.

The Hero: Instantly fixing problems may be gratifying and earn you kudos, but it can backfire in the long run. “It is not always okay — or productive—to drop everything and solve any customer issue that comes up when it comes up,” says the Forsythe Group’s Chuck Kirchner. “It results in a reactive culture and creates long-term productivity issues.”

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