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The Low Tech, Low Cost Way to Increase Employee Productivity

By multiple accounts, increasing knowledge worker productivity is a priority for CEOs in --just as it was in and so on. Why not make the year you actually do it?

There’s a simple yet powerful tool you can use to easily gain several productive hours per week per knowledge worker – week after week after week. I’m not kidding: two to three hours per employee per week.  

Let’s call it a position contract. It’s like a job description only better. It will change the way you manage your people.

If you’re one of the many software CEOs whose company doesn’t have job descriptions, don’t stop reading! I know job descriptions seem boring and too “corporate”. I know you may think you’re too small for them. You’re not.

Here’s why position contracts (and job descriptions) are so powerful.

Good job descriptions perform a very important function – they let people know what you want from them. If you need convincing that employees are not completely clued into what you want them to do, pick a few and ask them: What results are you here to deliver? The answer will probably surprise you.

Conventional job descriptions are good but position contracts have an added benefit --- accountability. Position contracts require signatures from both the position holder and the position holder’s manager. By signing, your employees acknowledge their understanding of responsibilities and commitment to deliver.

And if that’s not enough to get you moving, position contracts offer yet another benefit: they make you (or your designated managers) seriously think about and articulate your expectations for each employee of your company. This is remarkably helpful when you go into action planning mode.

What goes into a position contract?

In addition to the obvious – title, manager, direct reports, general responsibilities, and standards of performance, your position contracts should also include:

  • The results this position is expected to deliver; how it integrates with other people and teams; why these results are desired.

  • List of tasks the position holder will perform in order to achieve the results.

  • Systems and tools this person will use in order to complete the tasks and achieve the results.

  • Training – if any - that is required before someone can start carrying out this role.

  • Explanation of how you measure the success of this position.

  • Improvement – how the results delivered by this position can be improved upon. 

  • Signatures from both the person holding that position and their manager or supervisor. As far as I know Michael Gerber in The E-Myth introduced the signature requirement, and its effect is brilliant.

The smart way to get this done.

If you’re envisioning a massive, time-consuming effort that will bring you to a dead stop, fear not. You personally are not going to do much work. You’ll ask everyone to draft their own position contract. It helps to provide a template, and you can download one for free on the High Performance CEO website: Position Contract Template.

I recommend starting with your management team. Give everyone a week to draft his or her position contract, grab a big cup of coffee and prepare to be entertained, confused and enlightened. Chances are good you’ll want to reprogram a manager or two. The draft position contract is a great tool to do that. Just review it with the manager and ask for a rewrite.

Once you’ve got signed position contracts from your management team, you’re ready to move on to everyone else.

What not to do.

You can do more harm than good if you approach this exercise in the wrong way. If the employee is way off base in terms of what you think they should be doing, do not yell; do not get frustrated; do not blame the employee. After all, it’s not their fault. You have discovered a disconnect in the communication of your expectations. At some point along the way, you have not made yourself clearly understood.

Here’s your chance to fix that.

Let’s review.

  1. You want to increase the productivity of your knowledge workers.

  2. Position contracts will add 2 to 3 productive hours per employee per week.

  3. It won’t cost you much to do.

So why not do it now? Click here to download your copy of the High Performance Position Contract template.

Read More In: Strategy and Leadership

Tags : employee productivityjob descriptionsmanagementprofitability