Interpreting Productivity Rate

Productivity rate is an important economic concept that measures the efficiency of a production process which is basically the transformation of inputs into certain outputs. It may be affected by factors such as technological advancements, change in firm size and other changes in the organizational structure.

Some economists simply define productivity as the ratio of the return or output to the investment or input. Inputs of production may be material or immaterial. These pertain to the factors of production which are labor, energy, capital, services and raw materials. These are combined through the production process to create tools for consumption. Output, on the other hand, pertains to the number of services and goods that result from production. Productivity is not the same as production output although they may be related. In fact, gains in productivity may be obtained even without an increase in output if inputs are utilized efficiently.

Productivity can be measured in two ways. It can be measured by using a combination of all factors of production or it can be measured from the standpoint of one production factor alone. When all production factors are considered, it is called multifactor productivity. When only one productivity factor is measured, it is called partial measure of productivity. Among all partial measures, labor productivity is the most frequently used. Multifactor productivity refers to the output per unit of a combination of all production factors. On the other hand, labor productivity refers to the output per hour worked. In terms of data, it is more demanding to measure multifactor productivity. This is because sufficient data on output and input volume and value would have to be obtained. A method to aggregate all production factors into a common index may also have to be devised.

According to economists, there are three ways to improve productivity. This can be done by increasing the output rate on the same input rate or it could be done by reducing the input rate on the same output rate. The same is also the result when the cycle time, or the time needed to complete a process or a sequence, is reduced on the same productivity rate. Productivity gains stand to benefit a lot of people. They will translate to wage increases and increased purchasing power of workers. They will also mean higher profits for businesses and higher tax revenues for the government. Aside from increasing profits for businesses, productivity gains will also mean an increased competitiveness for them because it reflects the correlation between prices of resources or inputs and productivity.

Several productivity studies have already been undertaken to identify ways on how to increase the productivity rate of organizations. It has been revealed from these studies that efficiency or the value of output vis a vis the input costs, has a tremendous effect on productivity. In addition, these studies revealed that automation and computerization have allowed companies to increase their productivity. Social experiments conducted also revealed that steps undertaken by companies to make the working environment more comfortable such as air-conditioning systems, ergonomic designs, influenced their employees to be more productive.

Presentation Skills: Knowing Your Audience

“With presentation skills, the work is in the preparation, the fun is in the presentation.” Colleen Kettenhofen

To improve presentation skills, allow plenty of time, if at all possible, to find out exactly who will be in your audience. Consider obtaining some of their names, phone numbers and email addresses so you can do a “survey” or interview to find out more about their needs, challenges and expectations before the day you present. Are they colleagues or clients you’ve personally invited? What will be the attitude of your participants? In other words, do they want to be there or is attendance mandatory? Are you going to be presenting any “bad news” or information they may not want to hear?

In my seminars, people often tell me that two of their biggest presentation skills challenges are “how to handle a hostile audience,” and “how to present bad news.” If you start by knowing who will be in attendance, what their expectations are, as well as their objections, you can then begin to prepare your presentation. Other than rehearsing, nothing will improve presentation skills more than knowing details about your audience.

Incidentally, studies show that by rehearsing and truly being prepared, you can reduce nervousness by 75%. If you take the word “rehearse,” and delete the “se,” what word do you have? “Rehear.” When you rehearse, you are actually rehearing yourself. In addition, 95% of the success of your presentation is determined before you present. So knowing something about your audience, and then rehearsing the information, will greatly improve presentation skills.

Your main source of information will be the individual who invited you to speak. When you ask questions, it also gives the impression that you’re conscientious and meticulous in planning and preparation. Also, find out if there are any issues sensitive to the group or topics to be avoided. What about any cultural differences or language barriers?

Before I give a keynote speech or lead a breakout session at a conference, I inquire about getting a list of all attendees, their phone numbers and email addresses. I like to “interview” at least 3 people who will be attending. Often times they’ll come up with other pertinent issues that the contact person may not have known about or simply forgot to mention.

If your presentation is to a client, or potential new client, keep apprised of their company news, goals and objectives. What is an average work day like for the participants in your audience? What are their greatest challenges? And if applicable, how does your product or service help solve their problem?

Presentation skills = defining your purpose. Ask yourself, “What is my purpose in being here?” And, “Why are they here?” Everyone is always tuned in to “Radio Station WIIFM,” which stands for, “What’s in it for me?!” So, how does what you’re talking about address their problem, the “what’s in it for me?”

In addition to interviewing individuals ahead of your presentation, do “meets and greets” if time permits. Get to know people one-on-one right before your talk. It will calm your nerves and you’ll no longer see them as total strangers. Also, it shows you’re taking an interest in them. Often by talking one-on-one beforehand, you discover a wealth of new information you may want to bring up in your presentation.

In improving your presentation skills by knowing your audience ahead of time, here are some questions to ask yourself:

o What is the attitude of the audience? Do they want to be there? o What are their approximate ages? o What is the percentage of males to females? o What are their levels of education? o What is their technical expertise? o What about their geographic locations in terms of home base? o What about their cultural make up?

Remember, 95% of your presentation skills success is determined before your presentation. What do you know about your audience? How can you incorporate that information into the tailoring of your presentation? The work is in the preparation, the fun is in the performance.

Copyright 2006 Colleen Kettenhofen

Presentation Skills: Be More Productive Using a Facilitator Mode

There are many definitions for presentations. When you present there are also many different modes you can focus on. Are you a facilitator or an educator? The mode of facilitator is often misused in the corporate world and interchanged with words like trainer and educator. Facilitation is an exceptional skill, once you learn this skill you can boost your productivity and it can make you a better presenter.

A true facilitator is all about creating an environment where people feel safe and able to share their ideas freely. I believe the facilitator’s role is to act as a conduit. The first process a facilitator will undertake is to create operating agreements with their audience. It is the facilitator’s role to remove any blockages and conflicts within the group. They allow the thought processes of the group to be processed and expressed. They are responsible for establishing an environment that does that.

If this is a mode you are interested in developing yourself, the main proficiencies for this mode include:

Removing personal agenda – a facilitator’s role is to set the agenda with the group, not be running their own personal agenda. It is more powerful to seek to fill the agenda of the team and you will be more engaging to your audience.

Creating trust – this can be established in many ways for a presenter. It can occur before the presentation with communications circulated to the attendees, it can be built into the introduction for the facilitator and it can also be established when the agenda is set.

Respecting diversity - valuing each person’s input and recognising the variety of expertise and experience within the audience is the sign of a great facilitator.

Having active listening skills – one of the most important skill for any facilitator is the need to be able to listen and process what the audience is saying … and quickly. Listening intently will assist this.

A good facilitator may take several hours or days to create an environment where all the work may finally come together in the last hour. Don’t be fooled … some may think a facilitator comes into a presentation or meeting unprepared but that is not the case. An exceptional facilitator spends time preparing by taking a comprehensive brief from the client, researching the group/audience they will be working with and determining the questions that need to be asked to facilitate the best environment.

A quick note: Many organisations choose to bring in external facilitators to work with teams to achieve objectives. An external facilitator is neutral, doesn’t participate in office politics and is not influenced by the management hierarchy. If you team is grid locked or not co-operating, an external facilitator can be a great solution for you.

In a true facilitation style you may not even have the first question for your audience! Every discussion is a question i.e. does this feel right for you? Every facilitator should have an arsenal of great questions in their tool kit. Those questions include:

How is that working for you?

How do you feel about that?

I’m having trouble understanding that?

Does anyone want to add anything to that?

What’s that a part of?

If you knew the answer to that, what would it be?

In your experience, is that correct?

Does that ring true for you?

What do you need to get more out of this?

So what else is coming up?

If you had more time, what would the answer be?

If you knew the answer, what would it look like?

What is the biggest problem with the world?

What is the biggest issue with the world?

Facilitators are able to hold the space in tension to understand. They don’t try to fill the silence. They are able to capture conversations, check people’s understanding and expose all opinions. Learning questioning techniques will increase your mastery of this mode.

Here is a Facilitation checklist for you to help build your skills in this mode ask yourself the following questions:

Do you have an arsenal of questions?

Are you an active listener?

Can you “hold the space” in the tension?

Can you continually ask questions rather than try and find solutions to the discussions?

When you master this facilitation mode you will become a more powerful and engaging presenter. This skill can assist you when you have a tough audience, when you need to change the environment and when you are helping a client find a solution.