When I started my career in sales, I was preoccupied with becoming more productive. So, I invested in time management, speed-reading, remembering better and thinking faster to improve my personal effectiveness.

Later, when I started to lead teams and manage companies, I began looking at team and organisational productivity and effectiveness.

In today’s rapidly changing environments, how can you lead teams to not just be productive, but also thrive? With the world encountering complex issues with increasing uncertainty, how do you lead teams to productivity successfully?

The answer may lie in how you, as a leader, navigate.

Navigating productivity

Before you start navigating your team to productivity, there are three pre-requisites:

* Be the productivity role model. This is a powerful way to demonstrate how serious you are about productivity. Your team members can see, hear and feel the productive behaviours expected.

* Have the mindset of a learner and coach. Like a learner, a leader should continuously acquire new knowledge and skills. Learn what works and what can be improved in the current processes. As a coach, a leader should coach team members on skills they may not have or which are not up to the mark.

* Establish a navigation system. This is a trustworthy “compass” that works together with other tools and techniques to navigate through productivity crossroads and challenges.

Navigation system

A navigation system for the organisation should be:

* Easy to understand and simple to use;

* Structured and holistic;

* Consensus-based and empowering;

* Scalable (can be used at individual, team or organisation level);

* Provide a common language for the team to communicate in;

* Applied to other areas besides productivity, for example, change management, strategy development, decision making, innovation, projects, coaching, etc; and

* Incorporated with other programmes (such as Six Sigma, Lean Management or Business Process Re-engineering).

The NEWS Compass

North: “Where to?” for setting a direction and vision for productivity. Takes into account the current position and the trends taking place. The key here is how accurately you are able to locate the current reality and trends.

East: “Why?” identifies the core drivers, motivations and meanings for the team to be productive. These are powerful engines to propel the team towards its intentions.

West: This looks at “How shall we execute the plans?” and comprises:

* Planning: This includes setting critical goals and reviewing the necessary skills and resources.

* Execution: This phase requires discipline, consistently collecting feedback and making improvements to the plan.

South: “Why not?” looks at:

* External difficulties or stoppers (competition, regulations changes, price wars, market trends changes, etc.)

* Internal limiting factors (limiting beliefs, comfort zones, interpersonal issues, lack of engagement or cooperation, etc.).

It is very important to pay attention to the South point and address the concerns or these will drain the energy your team requires to succeed.

A navigating system, comprising a compass together with complementary tools and techniques to address issues and challenges, makes leading a team to productivity much easier.

The navigating compass helps you get started on your productivity journey. And it requires you to keep your eyes fixed on it, amidst changes and ambiguities. Decisions on policies, products, developments and recruitments are navigational points that may influence the course of the organisation’s productivity direction and vision.