5 Workplace Behaviours to Improve Productivity: It’s Like Baking A Cake

5 Workplace Behaviours to Improve Productivity: It’s Like Baking A Cake!

TXM Consulting Director, Anthony Clyne shares his thoughts on five simple strategies to improve productivity (and how he has applied these strategies in cooking his favourite cake!).

Productivity is the key to enabling businesses to survive in an environment of high inflation and wage pressure. For businesses to afford higher wages they need to achieve more revenue with the same people. Achieving this is easy and can be done in a structured way.

Smart companies will measure their productivity and negotiate wages with these facts in mind. It is vitally important to retain the people that differentiate your business. These people typically perform the best when there is a common goal and wage growth which boosts incentive for further productivity. Productivity is easy to measure and can be simply and safely displayed in most workplaces.

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The 5 Workplace Behaviours To Improve Productivity:

Define How the Work Should Be Done

Defining and creating standardized work is the easiest way to show how the work should be completed.

You can define how the work should be done by creating a playbook to guide a brand-new person. While another learning person may need a reminding approach, the experienced people will benefit from a challenge approach. The work should be highly detailed in its outcome, content, sequence, and timing.

“I’m finding the old collection of spreadsheets and templates are a little dated and there are currently some really friendly computer systems that display this content in the workplace” says Anthony Clyne, TXM Lean Solutions Consulting Director. “Video is a great tool, and it can explain and demonstrate how to do tasks. The follow along and pause behaviour of watching videos is now commonplace as people learn how to perform tasks to a standard way” says Anthony.

At home I have a banana cake that I like to make. The first step is to open the recipe and check the ingredients. Initially I could do the whole cake from ide to baked ready to eat in an hour. I’d check the cupboard at home and remembering what I need I’d work out to buy some ingredients. Then I’d walk 5 minutes to the store and while at the store open the recipe on the website and check if I had missed anything. Then I’d walk home and prepare the ingredients and have the cake in the oven after about 25 minutes. Taking 35 minutes to cook it would be smelling reading after 35 minutes in the oven. Total time 60 minutes.

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All People To Perform Tasks the Way It Should Be Done

Getting all people to follow the standard way is difficult to do at a high level. What is really needed is for people to follow the standard work to a very high detail. People that can demonstrate they meet the outcomes and timing by following the standard method should automatically become a trainer for that task.

My mother and partner also make this cake. I learnt from my mother to mix the ingredients in a saucepan to eliminate the need to have a separate mixing bowl. My partner said to make sure I only use a soft over ripe banana. I shared their tips with each of them and they experimented and were happy with the new way. Initially my partner stayed with the separate mixing bowl and while they haven’t changed yet I’m sure they will! This reduces the bench preparation time from 10 minutes to 5 minutes. Total time now 55 minutes.

People Challenge, Debate and Improve the Way the Work is Done

Collaboration is key when improving a workplace process.

As people change the way they work to the new or standard method they will feel unnatural and often for very good reason…. being they have found a better way! Often people will perform a work around task which was required for a specific condition or event. Often there are learned methods of working that are required to negate an imperfection with the process. Problem solving is the tool for addressing these imperfections.

Improving the banana cake is far more interesting when I can talk about the detail with others. Especially that these others are also interested in the process. Now I always know that the ingredients I need will be available, except for the ripe soft banana which I now walk 2 minutes to a closer store that mostly has portion packed soft banana on a display table out the front. Total time now is 46 minutes (40 minutes if the bananas are pre-bought)

Challenge the EndtoEnd Business Process To Streamline and Eliminate Nonvalue Add Activity

The way to do this is to simply map the step-by-step process and use a structured way to challenge it. At TXM we do this and lead teams to do this across departments, sites, supply chains, and around the globe.

The problem with the banana cake is that I don’t eat it very quickly and it can hang around in the fridge for over a week. When looking at the end-to-end process in a work situation you always start with the customer and design the process to deliver best value to the customer. I can now bake them in a muffin format and take the muffins with me to work sites and share the treat with other people. I can always keep a few in the fridge so I don’t miss out! Total time is actually 3 minutes longer now but there is far greater value out of the process. (Total time now 43 minutes).

Investing in Automation To Supplement Your Business Needs

Automation and A.I. can majorly improve your efficency across your business.

Industry’s often have proven automation solutions that help businesses improve productivity. Dark, Dangerous and Dirty tasks are ideal for automation. Workflow tools such as industry specific software packages often give as much or more benefit than a robot or automated mechanical device. Having the in-house capability to improve the automation after it is installed is the key. Productivity needs to be a sustained culture and not a short-term step improvement.

At TXM we help create this culture at our clients. There are plenty of automation options. As much as I would like an automated slow cooker or a whisker to help when my volumes are low, and I do not need these devices just yet. I’m definitely not getting one for the sake of it, as I value the cupboard space too much!

Anthony is Consulting Director at TXM and enjoys a balanced lifestyle of fitness, healthy eating including sweet treats.

Timothy McLean

Author: Timothy McLean

Timothy McLean is the Managing Director of TXM Lean Solutions and is an author of Lean books.