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What do you need to be productive?

Career growth and achievement depends on being productive, and that means understanding what you need. Resources, technology, tools -- do you have the right ones and do you have the skills to take advantage?

4 min read


What do you need to be productive?


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In a previous series for SmartBrief, I laid out my five-step productivity process for leaders, which I then turned into a Productivity Blueprint. This post goes deeper on the first of my five steps — planning for maximal productivity — and picks up from this last one, which made the case for keeping an organized workspace.

The last component of this first productivity step is to assess what is needed, in terms of materials, systems, knowledge and skills, to get the job done. Perhaps you’re lacking a sufficiently powerful technology system or customer relationship management option. Maybe you need to learn something additional.

Whatever it is, position yourself to hit the ground running so that you experience the fewest interruptions and setbacks possible before getting started.

While the range of tech instruments and resources is beyond our scope in this post, it should be obvious that you want to be using the right tools to get things done. Investments in proper technology and information systems will increase productivity while decreasing frustration that comes with doing today’s work with yesterday’s tools.

Of course, it’s not enough to have the right hardware and software to support your goals. Without proper skills, you will go nowhere fast. To determine whether you are properly skilled to get new work done, use a skills gap analysis.

A “skills gap” is the distance that separates the skills that employers want or need from the skills that their team members currently possess. A skills gap analysis is a tool that is used to assess whether a skills gap exists and, if so, to what degree. Conducting this analysis helps you identify the skills your people currently possess as well as those that they will need to master to meet your business or other goals.

Doing a needs assessment will put you and your team at a competitive advantage. The World Economic Forum in 2018 concluded that by the year 2022, more than half of all workers will need to update or completely replace their competencies. This is the result of rapid technological developments and an increasing digitalization that affect our personal and professional lives. 

After you have conducted the analysis, you can begin to determine the answers to such questions as:

  • What strengths do your people presently have that can best help us meet your mission?
  • Are they currently positioned to help you succeed?
  • What critical skills are needed to perform the mission and meet your business goals? 

Now that you have greater clarity about the skills needed to move forward, work to determine how they are going to get the needed training. Examples may include:

  • College course
  • Training seminar
  • Online video
  • Books and magazines
  • Mentor or coach
  • Peer observation
  • LinkedIn or Facebook group

Of course, we can’t just focus on the present. As we noted above, our skills require continuous updating if we are to remain current and capable of meeting future demands. To determine which future skills will be needed in your organization and industry, you need to know, among other things: 

  • What jobs within your organization and/or industry are likely to be fully or partially automated?
  • What skills are currently on the rise in your industry?
  • Which jobs will your company need more of?

This concludes the first step of my Productivity Blueprint, Planning For Maximal Productivity.

In four previous posts, I laid out how to identify your most important tasks (MITs,) detailed how to manage and prioritize your to-do list, demonstrated how to set positive, actionable goals and made the case for keeping an organized workspace.

Step No. 2 focuses on sharing the plan with others and will be similarly detailed in coming posts.


Naphtali Hoff, PsyD, (@impactfulcoach) is president of Impactful Coaching & Consulting. Check out his leadership book, “Becoming the New Boss.” Read his blog and listen to his leadership podcast. Download his free new productivity blueprint and his e-books, “Core Essentials of Leadership,” “An E.P.I.C. Solution to Understaffing” and “How to Boost Your Leadership Impact.”

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