As more and more workforces go hybrid or remote, we’ve noticed a troubling phenomena among leaders and executive teams. Productivity paranoia is rampant across those industries, even when employees and teams have successfully adapted and are effectively reaching their goals.
Productivity paranoia happens when managers and leaders who can’t see what their teams are doing become overly fearful that work isn’t getting done. In extreme cases, leaders believe their teams aren’t working at all, and are instead taking advantage of remote/hybrid flexibility to eschew responsibilities.
Even though we’re years into the transition to remote work, this troubling trend shows no sign of slowing down. According to recent reporting by the BBC:
- 85% of leaders say the shift to hybrid work has made it hard to be confident that employees are being productive.
- 87% of workers report they’re performing just fine, [but] only 12% of employers say they have full confidence their team is productive.
Effective leaders are motivated to avoid this toxic trust deficit on their own teams. High-performing teams are willing to take a hard look at productivity paranoia and redefine expectations to set themselves up for greater long-term success.
- Identify Your Trust Gaps
Until leaders are honest about how trust deficits impact their management style, the threat of productivity paranoia looms. Taking an honest approach is a great first step to changing your perspective and offering more effective leadership to hybrid and remote teams.
If you feel nervous about productivity, dig deeper. Ask yourself more specific questions. This can help you move beyond acknowledging trust gaps to identifying their root causes so you can address them more effectively. It may be helpful to reflect on questions like these:
- How often do I check in with people on my team?
- What kind of updates am I asking for?
- Is there a pattern behind the times I feel most anxious about productivity?
- Do I have a realistic understanding of how long it takes to achieve [XYZ]?
- What do I consider productive for myself? For my team?
- Am I on the same page with leaders I report to about what we consider a productive week/month quarter?
- Measure Outcomes Not Hours
As you think through the root causes of productivity paranoia, you may realize that you’re worried about whether or not people are spending enough hours working on a project (versus taking care of things that may come up around the house, taking breaks, etc.). In those moments, it’s helpful to remember team members are hired for their expertise and experience, not for the number of hours they sit at their desk each week.
When you start measuring outcomes instead of hours, you’re focusing on whether or not work gets done. If the answer is most often “yes”, then you can put your concerns about productivity to rest.
|Hours Mindset Sounds Like:||Outcome Mindset Sounds Like. . .|
|How long will it take to get this done?||What does a successful project look like?|
|I’ll check in every 4 hours.||When you complete each stage of the process we outlined, please update our task board.|
|I haven’t heard from you in 3 days.||Tell me more about your ideas for this campaign.|
|Why didn’t this get done on time?||What’s blocking your path to success here?|
- Pivot Your Processes
Once you’re approaching leadership as facilitating outcomes rather than tracking time, your workflows and processes will change and adapt, too. Utilize your communication systems and software accordingly.
Set up workflows that include sharing ideas, aligning on your vision, and tracking incremental progress. If you’re getting alerts when phases are completed, when someone has a new idea, or when progress is being blocked by something beyond a teammate’s control, you’re able to move from anxiety to action. As a result, people don’t feel micromanaged, and trust increases across the board.
- See Satisfaction as Key to Success
We’ve seen plenty of data on how workplaces who keep employees happier are also more productive. And for many industries, this means offering remote work. Forbes reports:
“Workers who worked from home 100% of the time were 20% happier on average than those who didn’t have the ability to work from home. . . Previous studies found that offering the ability to work remotely does not result in a drop in productivity. In fact, it has been found that happier employees are more productive.”
When tracking progress and outcomes, don’t forget to track work satisfaction. When someone’s happy in their role, and with their own progress, people are going to be working their most effectively. As a result, productivity paranoia will dissolve, and trust will remain.
Ready to build trust, boost productivity, and lead your hybrid or remote teams with confidence?
Take the first step by identifying trust gaps and shifting your mindset. Take our Mastering Leadership Communication assessment and discover the key steps you can take to prevent overwhelm and achieve success. It’s time to foster a happier, more productive team – click here to get started!
Don’t hesitate—take the step towards a more confident and thriving workplace today! If you’d like to learn more about how we can support you and your teams, click here to schedule a call!