Get Inside Their Heads to Unlock Higher Productivity

The “work-more economy” is colliding head-on with the “do more with less” reality. Employees are overwhelmed. Calendars are overrun with meetings that most consider to be a waste of time. Opportunities are being missed as people get caught in the vacuum of single-minded focus.

Companies aren’t blind to the problems. Many have worked hard to remove some of the hierarchical structures of the past to make their organizations more flexible and nimble. It’s now possible to rearrange and recombine teams quickly to deal with shifting priorities and needs. Even so, according to CEB research, this can actually make it harder for people to complete their individual tasks, potentially adding to burden of longer hours.

The world is more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) than ever before, yet speed ”the ability to move fast, shift attention and think in short increments” is more critical than ever.

The message seems to be: Never mind the unpredictability and chaos, we need higher levels of productivity, engagement and results across the board.


For starters, most of us are drowning in email. And though more companies are relying on teams to carry the burden of greater complexity and challenging projects, you have to wonder what’s happening when a recent University of Phoenix study found that less than a quarter of workers prefer to work on teams.

It’s one thing to have adapted our structures and systems to make our organizations more efficient and prepared to handle the daily complexities. But what about the people within that newly optimized system? What can you do to create a high-productivity culture when distractions are everywhere and new pressures and expectations threaten to demoralize even the most dedicated employees?

Productivity starts with the individual, but it’s up to organizations, leaders and managers to set the stage for optimum productivity. Too often, though, they don’t know what really drives productivity and unleashes someone’s inner motivation. How do you really get people to do their best work, consistently?

When looking at productivity in the knowledge-worker economy, the better question might be, how do you get people to bring their best thinking to work?

Our motivations, interests, behaviors, work processes and ultimately, the work we produce, all have roots in thinking. Each of us is a unique thinker with preferences for different modes of thinking, all of which affect our work habits, how we work with others, what we care about most, what we pay attention to and what we overlook, and what kind of work stimulates us the most.

Know How Your Employees Think

The implications are clear: Know your employees and how they think, and you will know how to unlock their full productivity.

Whether managers are managing people, projects or specific kinds of work, a big part of the job is being able to get things done through others. Understanding “where they’re coming from” in terms of their thinking preferences can be tremendously valuable because it provides clues about what work they do best, how to structure tasks and assignments for optimum productivity, and even where someone else’s strengths might fill in the gaps of their own thinking.

On the surface, though, it may sound like this is too complicated, too time-consuming. If every person”not to mention, every team”has unique thinking preferences and approaches to work, how can a manager efficiently and effectively engage such a cognitively diverse group? And what about the manager’s own thinking?

The good news is, there’s a practical, proven approach that any manager can apply to engage and inspire all of that thinking diversity: Whole Brain® Thinking.

As a core management competency, Whole Brain® Thinking makes it easy for managers to:

  • Improve efficiency and motivation by delegating and assigning work based on the mental demands of the job and the thinking resources available
  • Understand what motivates different people and coach more effectively
  • Recognize and take into account the energy required when the person will have to stretch mentally to get the work done
  • Provide productivity tools and job aids that will help, not add to the distractions
  • Assemble and manage highly creative, productive and energized teams

Whole Brain® Thinking isn’t just for managers, though. It gives employees and teams a new perspective on how they work best, both individually and as team members, as well as the skills to:

  • “Own” and become more accountable for their productivity
  • Manage their time, attention, tasks and projects in the most efficient, effective way for them
  • Get the full benefits of their own thinking and a team’s thinking diversity
  • Get more personal satisfaction out of their work

Once Whole Brain® Thinking becomes a way of doing business, it becomes a win for everyone. As one operations manager told us, “I’m amazed at how many previously untapped resources I have!”

Are Teams Broken? Or Just Not Using Their Heads? Team Thinking in a New Light.

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