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Each employee is given the resources needed to achieve their goals.
Within the unit, performance expectations are identified and measured. Productivity goals are laid out, and evaluated. These results are considered by department managers as a key measure of productivity. Within the marketing department, for example, sales figures (performance) are the key measure, and are weighed against the time and money spent to acquire them. We found this approach to be typical of each department.
So, in looking at how the company views performance and how it links performance to productivity, is that they do this well at the department level.
InforMed scores moderately well on the use of technology to enhance productivity. The basic requirements are in place, but they are not necessarily used to their best. Each department, as we have found, is responsible for their own budget and that includes the technology budget. At the department level, we found that managers were attuned to making decisions about technology based more on long-term benefits than short-term ones. In some ways, this is a positive, because it keeps technology expenditures relative to productivity gains. The department managers score well on trying to achieve a balance between expenditures on technology and gains in productivity stemming from those expenditures.
However, because they operate without any strong guidance from above, and are faced with somewhat constrictive departmental budgets, the technology used is not the best available. Department managers often try to stretch their technology budgets by delaying new purchases. For example, their sales staff often works with just cell phones, even on the road. This we feel can inhibit their productivity because they are required to spend more time in the office than would otherwise be necessary.
Likewise, productivity in the call center is compromised to a degree because they are working with equipment that is near obsolete. They do the best they can to manage productivity given the equipment at their disposal, but modern call center hardware and software could yield significant productivity gains. So we concluded that for many employees, they are not operating with the best technology for maximizing productivity. The department managers do the best with what they've got, but at times they are hindered by lack of technology investment and oversight from above. Part of the investment issue is that the department heads are responsible for their own cost centers. This causes them to stretch technology for years beyond its useful life, even at the expense of productivity. There is little incentive or push from senior management to invest in technology in the name of productivity improvement.
InforMed scores fairly poorly on its work procedures. As a rule, these are not designed with productivity improvement in mind. Worse, as productivity increases, the quality of work decreases. With strong productivity management systems, quality should be maintained while productivity improves.
There are several areas of weakness when it comes to InforMed's work procedures. First, safety procedures are seen to have an adverse affect on productivity. We would prefer to see a more neutral attitude, or an attitude geared towards finding ways to eliminate the negative consequences of mandatory safety procedures.
Management of workplace procedures is fairly ad hoc. Employees are empowered to help design their own jobs, yet at the same time they are not specifically empowered to make productivity improvements. In some areas of the company's operations, managers put too high a price on failure, which discourages employees from seeking ways to improve their productivity. This is especially true in the call center, which has a strong top-down structure.
The trouble is, even in departments where management takes a commanding role in terms of designing and implementing procedures, they do not measure their own success. There is no formal procedure for periodic evaluation of procedures. This has a negative impact on productivity because over time, deviations from those procedures emerge and the impacts of those deviations are not evaluated by management. Even if the managers develop tight, efficient systems, those systems will decline in efficiency over time and management has no formal structure for evaluating this. We looked at time-wasting operations and found several, yet management did not seem to be aware of how wasteful these procedures were, nor did they have an answer for eliminating them.
For a company in which the majority of work tasks are fairly regimented, managers take little active role in monitoring the procedures once they have been implemented. The employees themselves have no incentive to do so either, and the result is the development of inefficiencies that go unchecked. Productivity could be improved at InforMed just by better monitoring and regular evaluations of existing procedures, never mind developing new procedures to improve productivity.
In terms of staff commitment to productivity, InforMed is generally scores well, but with a couple notable areas of weakness. In general, they have good people, who understand the concept of productivity and are committed to improving it. For most positions, they are able to find employees who have a high level of productivity awareness. This is especially true at the departmental and front-line levels of management.
The strength in their hiring is reinforced with strong training programs that do feature some emphasis on productivity. At the lower management levels, productivity is one of the key areas of focus, and these managers are able to work with each other, and to coach their employees, to help improve productivity. In most departments, managers have some minor reinforcement programs for rewarding productivity improvements. They do not, however, always make use of these programs, and there is neither company-wide support for these programs nor a corporate-wide equivalent.
The high level of training ensures that productivity does not suffer when turnover occurs, and InforMed has created an environment that results in a fairly low level of turnover in most departments. It can be suggested, however, that despite this continuity of staff, many lower level employees lack passion for their jobs. They do not demonstrate any sort of commitment, and view productivity as an issue for management to deal with. They do not see that productivity improvements on their part will be rewarded. They feel, and we concur for the most part, that management would not be aware even if they did improve productivity, and that management would not utilize the reinforcement programs in place but would take credit for themselves.
One staff weakness we identified was in supplemental training. Despite hiring good people and giving them a high level of initial training, InforMed typically does not follow up with supplemental training. Many of the employees we spoke to indicated that they had not received training since they were a new hire, and had no incentive to undertake such training on their own. They are not committed to improving themselves, or their contribution to the company, and this is reflected in a generally ambivalent attitude towards personal contribution to productivity improvements.
InforMed can improve its productivity by implementing the following recommendations. They should develop a corporate-wide productivity improvement plan. They should free up more money for technology improvements. They should enhance their reward systems in order to better engage front-line employees in productivity management.
The core of InforMed's strength in productivity management is at the department level, where they have systems to measure productivity and where productivity is a specific goal of management. None of this is present at the corporate level. The attitude seems to be that if the department and functional managers do their jobs with regards to productivity, that this is sufficient. However, the message that this sends those managers is that productivity is not a high priority. Senior management must also demonstrate a commitment to productivity improvement.
To do this, they need to develop a system that ties productivity improvements of the different departments together. Corporate-wide productivity should be measured. This involves several key tasks. Productivity audits should be conducted to evaluate the different departments specifically on productivity improvements. A corporate-wide strategy for productivity management should be implemented - at present productivity-related planning in complete ad hoc within each division. A consistency of procedures, audits, measures and systems for adjustments would provide a more cohesive approach to productivity and ensure best practices are adhered to by every division. Moreover, it would provide senior management with the information they need to provide more specific productivity management guidance.
Specific corporate productivity goals should be developed, measured, and then the failures and successes should be evaluated to devise ways to consistently achieve improved productivity performance. At present, the department managers set their own goals. This should be the role of senior management. The department managers should bear the task of implementing management's objectives, not defining their own measures of success.
A more integrated system would also provide for better cross-department comparison of productivity. This creates a greater sense that each department is working for something greater than just its own…[continue]
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