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How Do I Address Someone’s Opinion of My Productivity in a Virtual World?

Vice President of Development and Delivery Emily Gregory shares a tip for addressing concerns around virtual productivity from a coworker.

Emily Gregory

Emily has consulted and trained with non profit, start-up ventures, and major national corporations such as Eli Lily and The Chicago Board of Trade. Additionally, Emily has taught finance courses at Brigham Young University and trained corporate clients in Crucial Conversations.

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4 thoughts on “How Do I Address Someone’s Opinion of My Productivity in a Virtual World?

  1. Sometimes, there is merit to the comments.

    I once has a Maintenance Manager who told me (shortly after taking the role of Rapid Response Manager) that “Rapid Response wasn’t very rapid.”

    I’ll admit, I got upset at the comment.

    After that, I decided that I should know how fast products are going out, and I started watching the schedule and the “churn” (products in, products out, how long).

    I discovered that my 8 worker team was working to what I called “touch,” and not the schedule.

    Someone would come by and ask about a product, and they’d drop everything and work on that product. Someone else would come by and ask about a different product – same result.

    The results were Rapid Response wasn’t very Rapid.

    What I did to get it under control:
    1. Looked at all the products in the group (over 900!)
    2. Set priorities.
    3. Built a workable schedule
    4. Set up a meeting with the Team Members to explain the new schedule process.
    5. Explained expectations to the team members.
    6. Worked with my manager before I did all this, so when my team members went to him to ask him to change it back, he was prepared and told them “No, work to the schedule.”
    7. Posted metrics where everyone could see them. Total products in group, products completed this week, and average completion times.

    The results were astounding. After a slow start, production increased and our schedule adherence approached 100% frequently.

    For fast track jobs, our average throughput was less than 5 days.

    So from that comment, I was able to make a change that I carried with me through 5 other positions, and improved those organizations as well.

    So start by asking “What would make that person say that?” Maybe there is a bit of truth there, as it was in my case.

    Or maybe it’s a misconception. You won’t know until you talk with them, see what gives them that impression, and look.

  2. Emily,
    Yes, using some Crucial Conversation skills is the way to go. But, I’d like to put forward that we are too often worried about what others think. If the person isn’t you boss, friend or loved one, why would I care what they think? Of course, I am assuming the person isn’t telling other people about their “judgement”. If they are, that is a whole different problem that management needs to deal with. Also, I’d like to put forward that we sometime do things that cause this judgment. For example, my organization has a policy that remote workers must by online in Skype when they are working. All too often people don;t do this. Then, they don’t have an email responder saying they are out of the office or it isn’t on the shared calendar. In this case, we bring the judgements on ourselves. I say, along with talking to the person, look at what you may be doing to cause the judgement.

  3. George, you’re a lean process analyst at heart! Besides really listening to your manager, you analyzed the process and found the process wasn’t as well measured or optimized, and could be with a few changes. Kudos to you for finding an answer using measurable means. Most companies would reward you with promotions.

  4. While I get where you’re coming from in this video, I think it misses a couple of important points.

    First of all, productivity should be judged by outcomes….are you meeting your pre-determined deadlines, quantity and quality of output, etc.? Productivity isn’t about how many hours you work or how you get your work done — it’s about what you accomplish.

    Second, whether or not you’re being sufficiently productive is a matter that’s between you and your manager — it’s generally not your co-worker’s place to judge your productivity. However, if your coworker is dependent upon your output in order to get his/her/their own work done, and they are not getting that output when they need it from you, then your productivity IS an issue that concerns them and they should address it with you from that perspective, saying something like, “You were supposed to get x to me by [date] and I still don’t have it, which is holding up my work.” If this problem becomes a chronic one and you’ve spoken to your coworker about it and the effect it’s having on your own work, then it’s time for you to address this with your manager, so that he/she/they can address it with your coworker as a performance issue.

    TLDR: Productivity is about outcomes, not process, and your coworker shouldn’t be involved in measuring your productivity unless it’s affecting your coworkers own productivity, in which case they should focus on that aspect in conversation with you.

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