Taxing Zen

Measuring Productivity

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The UPS driver no longer rings the bell in our neighborhood. Instead, you hear the roar of a heavy engine and you open the door in time to see the brown delivery truck as it pulls away in a puff of diesel. If the driver spots you, you might get a wave as you retrieve your package from the step.

Why the change?

Turns out saying hello or accepting a cookie from a friendly door-opener slows the delivery process. Productivity is measured by number of packages dropped off, not kind words exchanged or sweets consumed. Meeting deadlines means staying on the run.

Accounting firms easily slide into the same mindset, especially during tax prep season. Preparers are praised for hours worked and returns processed. Time spent talking to a client can be viewed as non-productive, unless the conversation concerns only the tax work being completed.

Yet single-minded focus can be a mistake, especially for service businesses like UPS and accountants. Clients feel ignored, workers feel like machines, and the company feels cold and uncaring.

What does the way you measure productivity say about your business?


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