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Watching Productivity Tick By?

On a sunny summer Friday, with the long Fourth of July weekend just on the other side of the time clock, it would be hard to criticize anyone for watching the clock today. But, if some of your employees are chronic clock watchers, it's possible they're under challenged at work. So, while giving the impression you're working hard the remainder of the day, look busy by reading how clock watching could be affecting the productivity of your organization.

In their book Now, Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton report on an analysis done by The Gallup Organization. Over the years, Gallop asked 1.7 million people in 101 companies from 63 countries the question, "At work do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?" Only 20 percent said they strongly agreed that they did. Furthermore, Gallup found that employees who feel they are doing what they are best at are 38 percent more likely to work in business units with higher productivity.

According to Geoff Godbey, professor of leisure studies at Pennsylvania State University, clock watching is often an indicator of being over qualified for the job. An article in the June 30, 2004 Wall Street Journal quotes Professor Godbey: "When you're doing something and your skill and the challenge are closely aligned, you lose your sense of time."

Employees want to feel important and useful. And they want to contribute their best talents to the success of a worthwhile endeavor. "A chief complaint of workers isn't pay," says Dr. Godbey. "It's that they can't use their skills."

Values-based leaders Recognize the Best in Others. They encourage employees to shift their focus to their strengths, help them refine and fortify those unique abilities, and allow them to utilize their talents to bring success to themselves and the organization.

There are other benefits to matching workers with what they do best. Gallop showed that employees are 50 percent more likely to work in business units with lower turnover, and 44 percent more likely to work in business units with high customer satisfaction scores, when they feel their best skills are being used.

So strive to match employees with jobs in which they can succeed and excel. Identify each person's talents and provide everyone the chance to do what they do best. Then you'll also capitalize on the best in others.

It must be time to go home by now!
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