10 Wrong Ways Your Company Is Measuring Productivity

Measure Productivity

Does your company know who gets the work done?

I mean, really does the work.

Not talks about it. Brags about it. Or in some cases, even lies about it.

I am talking about actually delivering tangible results.

How does your company measure productivity?

Productivity: You’re Measuring It Wrong

In the hasty pursuit of goals, most companies don’t take time to look at how they are measuring results.

Instead, they rely on stories, anecdotes, and often plain lies about what is getting done and by whom.

“Most companies are ignorant of who is actually getting the work done.”

This leads to assumptions, guesses, or even silly ways to measure productivity.

Doubt this?

Here are 10 Wrong Ways That Your Company Is Measuring Productivity:

  1. The Most Hours – The most common mistake companies make is to reward the people who put in the most hours. The assumption is that these people must be doing the most work. Yet, often they are the biggest procrastinators, wasters of their own and other people’s time, and most responsible for rework.
  2. The Loudest – Many companies make the mistake of rewarding the loudest employees. By this, I mean the ones who are always telling others what they are doing and how important they are. I worked with one employee who closed every email by announcing what “important thing he was doing that day.” He had to make sure that people knew he was doing important work.
  3. No Measuring Scale – Does your company even know what success looks like? What is the measuring scale? Not knowing how to keep score not only keeps companies blind, but leads to employee dismay. One company rewards employees with an annual success trip. Yet, with no published criteria, every year employees are left scratching their heads as to why certain employees are rewarded.
  4. Sending the Most Emails – Somewhere along the line, the paper-pusher made the leap to the 21st century as the “email spammer.” I have seen individuals make entire careers out of mass emailing their co-workers. Of course, this only works if companies mistake email barrages as work, which unfortunately many do.
  5. Not Taking Status Updates Seriously – Status updates are only as good as the information in them. If you send out worthless updates, no one will read them. (True in most companies.) Bogus status updates are just as dangerous. I worked with one company whose weekly updates always showed all projects as Green. (As opposed to Yellow or Red.) They had one project that was 182 days past its deadline. When I inquired, they stated it was Green because, “People are still working on it.”
  6. The Most Things Done – This the Busy Bee Syndrome. It is closely related to #1. However, in this case, the company measures productivity by the sheer quantity of tasks completed. Never mind if they were the right tasks, or if any positive results were achieved. But, wow, they sure got a lot of tasks done.
  7. Over-dedicated – It our fast paced, job-hopping world, it is easy for companies to mistake over-dedication for effective work. Consider the company that gives a leadership award based on the employee working nights and weekends and canceling their vacation. Does this show dedication or an unrealistic work-life balance?
  8. Not Keeping Score – Many companies don’t have the discipline to track results. (For others, it’s a conscious choice.) When it comes to recognizing employee effectiveness, it comes down to gut-feelings or who that manager likes. Not a great measuring stick for potential success.
  9. No Priority or Direction – Speed without direction is just a quick way to get off course. If your company hasn’t set the direction or goals, then it does’t matter how productive employees are. They are just working for work’s sake.
  10. Not Meeting Deadlines or Goals – Many companies set deadlines or goals only to “explain them away” at a later time. Well, the deadline wasn’t reached but that’s OK. Or, we didn’t reach our sales goal, but we tried really hard. Results aren’t necessarily about tough love, but rather hard truth.

Measure Productivity by Measuring Results

Don’t let your company fall for these productivity measuring mistakes.

Productivity is seldom about getting the most things done, but rather getting the right things done.

It’s about results. Positive impact.

Good companies measure busyness.

Great companies measure results.

Question: How does your company measure productivity? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

9 thoughts on “10 Wrong Ways Your Company Is Measuring Productivity

  1. Omg, yes to the unrealistic work-life balance. I’ve worked with people who constantly work outside of their scheduled hours. It seems like they’re dedicated but not only was their work taking over but they weren’t working effectively within their regular hours (which is why they had to stay late).

    Not to mention, it’s an HR risk for the company if the Labor Department were to audit them.

    Most companies I’ve seen measure productivity by whatever the worker puts in the log, with no importance (or attention) to accuracy.


  2. Great list Craig! We are moving in a direction where more companies are beginning to take metrics more seriously – be it for marketing, sales, operations or HR. Having clear metrics in place and linking them to KRAs is essential for rewarding ‘actual performance’!

  3. Hello Craig, I follow you here in the UK, where we’re recognising that the country is up to 17% less productive than most other european countries, even post-recession. i’ve been working hard to start helping businesses recognise that productivity is all about people performing better. Your post is a great summary of all those things our managers prefer not to talk about – us British hate those awkward conversations with our employees who blatantly under perform. Really enjoy your articles.

  4. My company expects the staff to work effectively and efficiently as they provide the right tools to do the job. We are measured using Replicon TimeAttend, the latest technology which eases them run business smoothly.

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