Written by Lau Jie Fei. Jie Fei is a student and an educational blogger. She manages different blogs that help secondary school students in English Essays, Karangan SPM, Novel dan Komsas, and Student KoolAid.
According to businessdictionary.com, productivity is the ratio of output to input. It is a measure of the efficiency and effectiveness of a person, machine, factory, system, business or an economy in converting inputs into useful outputs. It is about how well people combine resources to produce goods and services. For business corporations, it can be determined using productivity indicators such as labour productivity, labour cost competitiveness, capital productivity and profit-to-value-added ratio.
For most countries, productivity is about creating more from available resources, such as raw materials, labour, skills, capital equipment, land, intellectual property, managerial capability and financial capital. An increase in productivity means that more is produced with the same amount of input.
From a broader perspective, increased productivity increases the power of an economy through driving economic growth and satisfying more human needs with the same resources. Increased gross domestic product (GDP) and overall economic outputs will drive economic growth, improving the economy and the citizens of the country.
Malaysia, our beloved country has developed rapidly and tremendously in the last decade or so. According to the statistical major report published by the Malaysian Productivity Corporation (MPC), Malaysia has achieved a surge to the 6th position among 189 economies in the latest World Bank Doing Business 2014, well ahead of its target to be among the top 10 by the year 2015. This achievement has placed Malaysia in the same league as Singapore, Hong Kong, United States and Denmark. Malaysia also attained the 5th position in Business Efficiency and 9th in Economic Performance. In the FDI Confidence Index, Malaysia has made tremendous improvements by moving up 10 places.
In the Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) 2013 to 2014, it states that GCR examined factors that enable economies to achieve sustained economic growth and long-term prosperity through the 12 pillars of competitiveness: Institutions, Infrastructure, Macroeconomic Environment, Health and Primary Education, Higher Education and Training, Goods Market Efficiency, Labour Market Efficiency, Financial Market Efficiency, Technological Readiness, Market Size, Business Sophistication and Innovation.
Malaysia was ranked 24th most competitive among 148 countries and 2nd among ASEAN countries and is among the top 20% of the most competitive economies globally.
Our Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak announced via Facebook that Malaysia’s improved position in the Top 20 list of The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Business Environment Rankings is a positive indication of our economic liberalisation efforts and a testimony to the ongoing success of the Government and Economic Transformation.
From an individual’s point of view, I strongly feel that each and every one of us plays a major role in enhancing the productivity and development rate of our country, Malaysia. This is because as daunting as productivity might sound, it actually is all about a change in mindset. It’s about using a little initiative combined with the innovative spirit to create a big impact. We definitely have the initiative to improve and boost our country’s productivity to greater heights. Malaysia’s productivity push is for the long haul, and it must be a national effort with every individual playing their part. Productivity might seem daunting, but with a little initiative combined with the innovative spirit, we can all make a great impact.
As Thomas Edison once said, “There’s a way to do it better – find it.”
Teamwork has a dramatic effect on an organisation’s performance. Teamwork is the engine that drives effective leadership. The ability to direct individual accomplishments towards organisational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results. The primary benefit of teamwork is that it allows an organisation to achieve what an individual working alone cannot.
Teams do not become effective overnight. It is a process that requires attention, effort and patience. To build a team requires a firm understanding of the stages of team development. Through research, it is apparent that there are certain aspects of team development found in successful teams, the most common being Psychologist Bruce Tuckman’s Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing model.
After reading his 1965 article, “Developmental Sequence In Small Groups”, there are many useful insights that we can apply in building a highly productive team in our country’s organisations, thus enhancing our country’s development.
According to Wikipedia’s article about Tuckman’s Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing model, forming is the stage where most team members are on their best behaviour and tend to avoid controversy and conflict with each other. They also act quite independently on tackling tasks. But focussed as they are on the tasks, they are relatively uninformed of the objectives and goals of the team. This is the stage where the leader plays a dominant role in enlightening each individual of their roles and responsibilities. This might be a comfortable stage to be in, but the avoidance of interaction and conflict suggests that not much actually gets done.
In the storming stage, as initial trust develops between team members they start to feel comfortable with expressing discontent and challenging others’ opinions This stage is crucial for the growth of the team. It can be slightly dangerous at this stage due to lack of tolerance or patience of the team members and this phase could spiral out of control. Hence, supervisors of the team play a crucial role in providing guidance or decision making in the most harmonious yet professional manner. Despite the fact that relationship bonds among team members are put to the test, disagreements within the team can make members stronger, versatile and able to work more effectively together.
Norming is the phase where the team manages to put aside their differences and come to a mutual plan for the team. All team members take up their responsibilities and develop their ambition to work for the success of the team.
It is possible for teams to reach the performing stage, at which most members are always participating. These high performing teams can function as a unit as they find ways to get the job done effectively without arousing much conflict or the need for external supervision. By this time, they are knowledgeable and motivated by the prospect of success of the organisation. Every individual is competent, autonomous and able to handle their roles with maximum proficiency. There might be dissent occasionally as long as it is channelled as constructive criticism and is handled through means acceptable to the organisation. It is the collaborative, cooperative and supportive spirit within the team that keeps the organisation functioning in a productive manner.
Sincerity plays a big part in stimulating healthy growth for the development of the organisation, society and our country. Everyone should execute their duties with sincerity and strive to do it right.
Rajat Taneja, the executive vice president and CTO of Electronic Arts shared “If there is a single attribute that can determine job satisfaction and our contributions to our customers, it is the importance of always being sincere. Sincerity is vital to our customers, to our company, and most importantly, to one’s self and one’s values.”
However, sincerity alone is insufficient. Dedication is another factor required. In a classroom, if educators are sincere and dedicated towards the nurturing of students, the students would reciprocate as a gesture of goodwill. In the workplace, employees are able to show sincerity by treating each other in an unbiased manner, also displaying dedication through their work by putting in the best of their efforts in their endeavours.
Feedback is a crucial aspect of improving people’s performance. One of the most effective ways of providing information to team members on their individual performances is by giving an objective summary. Despite this approach being viewed in a negative manner by some people, feedback should always be delivered to promote performance level of each individual.
Feedback has to be conveyed as constructive criticism and it should be delivered with the right intentions to show sincerity. Employees need to know their strengths and weaknesses to work on. The manager or supervisor should make it a regular process, one which should be positive and constructive. They have to be specific on informing the person exactly what to improve on. This ensures objectivity and less room for ambiguity. They should also provide positive feedback to the employees, this helps lift their spirits and encourages them to work on improving themselves, thus increasing productivity. Also, if possible, the feedback process should be conducted in private because while public recognition is appreciated, public scrutiny is not. Following up on the team members’ progress aids productivity as this urges them to maintain performance level.
Articulating the team’s vision is fundamental to organisational productivity. The successful teams invest time and effort into analysing the overall objective of the team. Goals and aspirations emerge from this main objective and this helps the team members stay on track and not diverge. The key to articulating vision is by getting everyone to understand it as a team. They need to participate in the discovery and understand as well as agree that the goal is worth working hard for.
People are extremely social creatures and have been hardwired from the beginning to want to work together.
As the saying goes, “no man is an island”.
Founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute, David Rock found that employees’ engagement and performance diminish when they face deterrents to relatedness. Conversely, promoting a sense of togetherness has proven to predict greater employee motivation. Effective leaders and managers would do well to add “together” to their everyday vocabulary as uttering this magic word motivates everyone to be marvellously more productive. Hence, everyone can develop a mutual trust with each other and this plays a pivotal role in enhancing productivity levels. Duties and assignments can be completed faster and efficiently.
Besides that, encouraging innovation plays a pivotal role in enhancing the productivity. According to Tom Kelley, regular brainstorming is as critical to an organisation as regular exercise is to your health. Brainstorming can help generate radical solutions to problems. We can have different people contributing to the process, fine tuning the solutions and executing a project in the most innovative way possible. In today’s world, everyone is eager to foster those sparks of creativity.
Lee Iacocca once said, “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.”
To up productivity and optimism, we should play to our strengths. According to Gallup research, people who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged in their job. Building employees’ strengths is a far more effective approach to improving performance and productivity than trying to improve weaknesses. We should spend time figuring out our personal strengths and when we do, we should focus on them and hone those skills to expert levels. Being in a state of extreme creativity will magnify the impact of everything we do.
The workplace should have more advanced machinery and equipment that yield error-free results in the minimum possible time. As we are in the 21st century, usage of electronic equipment should be implemented to help reduce immense workload. Examples of such devices include smartphones, laptops, tablet computers, as well as latest application and software that offer efficient connectivity.
Bill Gates once said, “Automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency”.
It shows us that with the right attitude and proper equipment, we can create a big impact in productivity enhancement. Let us segue into the last part of productivity enhancement of our country. Besides improving ourselves, it is prominent that we learn from other countries’ styles and approaches in enhancing development and growth rate. Let’s learn from Japan.
Japan became the second largest economy in the world in the 1980s. After the war was over, many of the wartime companies and much of the technology used during the war were converted to peaceful economic development. Japanese private companies expanded quickly and fearlessly. Toyota, Nissan, Isuzu, Toyo Kogyo, Mitsubishi all produced full lines. Beginning with the radio in the 1950s, Monta Akio and Ibuka Masaru’s infant company, Sony emerged as the global leader in quality and innovation in consumer electronic goods.
Postwar Japanese economic takeoff was due to a variety of factors, and one which we should all emulate is the social mobilisation of the Japanese of which the Japanese sacrificed for the nation’s peace in the international economy.
Research shows that in the early years of Japanese economic development from the 1950s to 1960s, 1/3 of the bank loans came from private savings. Saving rates soared steadily as the economy grew. These funds, deposited in the saving accounts of commercial banks or in the government run postal savings system, made up a vast pool of capital available for investment for industrial purposes.
It was the Japanese consumers who bore the brunt of shouldering the cost of Japanese companies’ competition abroad, in the form of high cost of consumer goods. After the war, they were taught to redirect their devotion to the nation from military expansion to economic expansion. To establish their national position in the post-war world, they were not concerned about individual well-being, thus did not mind the high cost they had to pay for consumer goods that cost less abroad.
It is the same kind of mentality that has to be imbued in our community. When every individual imbibes the spirit of selflessness and teamwork in themselves, they move from “me” to “us”. Their mindset shifts from just thinking about personal gain to the broader picture of benefits gain of the organisation, society, country. It is this spirit and collective effort that allows us the ability to work together towards a common vision.
In conclusion, productivity is a long haul, a marathon without a finishing line, but so long as we have confidence and keep working at it together, we will stay in the race and stay ahead in the race. Productivity is not only vital for the growth of our country, it is also crucial for promoting a higher quality of life for our citizens. Realising improved living standards and maintaining high living standards is why our government consistently strives to improve economic growth productivity. Hence, let us work hand in hand towards a brighter future.
Remember that together, everyone achieves more.
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