Who is hijacking Canada’s Productivity?
For three decades, growth in Canadian labour productivity (output in dollars per hour worked) has lagged behind productivity growth in the United States and other major countries. A recent 2011 update of the productivity data by Statistics Canada reveals a widening gap.
Well as Robin said to Batman; “holy nick of time”! You can be one of the Superheroes who are ready to uncover and derail the culprit who is hijacking Canada’s productivity; the evil Dr. Conflict! Perhaps Dr. Conflict is also hijacking your organizations productivity and you can start your superhero adventure right in your own back yard! By the time you finish reading this article you will be preparing to leap tall buildings in a single bound and restore creativity, innovation and productivity in your organization!
So why is productivity so important? The Bank of Canada says; “Rising productivity is vital to sustained improvements in real incomes and living standards over time. It also matters for the conduct of monetary policy because it is a key variable affecting potential output and, hence, the output gap, which is an important indicator of inflation pressures in the economy.” So in my words; quality of life, organizational competitiveness and inflation are directly impacted positively by productivity.
So why for 30 years has Canada’s labour productivity not improved? I’m glad you asked and the answer lies inside the three factors that impact productivity growth and to be precise in one of them. Two of the three factors are comparable to the United States; Capital Deepening (greater use of technology) and Labour Composition Growth (deepening of skills and knowledge in the workplace).
However the third factor is where we have a big gap and it is where Dr. Conflict has set up shop! The MFP or Multi-Factor Productivity; or more easily described as our innovation capacity. MFP is determined when you take away the other two factors from total output and what is left is your MFP. Since Statistics Canada has been tracking MFP (32 years) we have had zero growth!
I believe the greatest skill a leader has, is his or her ability to ask great questions that start with themselves. The question here for me is why no growth and why is what we are doing (or not doing) not working. I have a favourite saying that is quite appropriate here; “Our system is perfectly designed to achieve the results we are getting.”
Given that innovation is a contributor to productivity we know that creativity is a catalyst for innovation and we know the first thing that declines when conflict is left to its own devices is creativity and consequently productivity.
I believe that our barrier to growth is insufficient attention to being intentional about developing a Conflict Management System for both individuals and organizations. This inattention is not rooted in ignorance or apathy but fear; a fear of conflict.
A recent survey of 2500 executives revealed 85% of them having a fear of conflict. 85% of employees have experienced conflict in the workplace and 9 out of 10 of them experienced a conflict that escalated. 95% of employees and 7 out of 10 executives indicate a strong desire to be coached in dealing with conflict and have a Conflict Management System for their organization yet only 44% have received some sort of training or coaching.
Form my vantage point being intentional with helping organizations develop a Conflict Management System that will equip and empower people with the confidence to resolve conflict. This will most often result in the parties achieving a mutually satisfactory outcome. In turn this outcome will have a huge impact on increasing creativity, increasing innovation, leading to increased productivity and ultimately contributing to improving Canada’s labour productivity.
We also know that when unhealthy conflict is addressed and the fear of it eliminated the opportunity to create a safe place for constructive conflict appears. A place where disagreements aren’t personality clashes (the top reason for conflict) and asking great questions is seen as a means of bringing the best out of each other and collaborative input fosters innovation. I see the creative fuel of grit in making a beautiful pearl or the friction of two blades sharpening each other as providing a word picture of this strategy inside a Conflict Management System.
What’s at risk to advance this productivity enhancing strategy or perhaps the better question is what’s at risk if we don’t? Whatever we have done for the last 30 years hasn’t generated the results we want!
A 2014 Deloitte survey on employee engagement in 92 countries reinforces the need for greater worker confidence and workplace empowerment. Only 13% of the global workforce is defined as engaged (emotionally connected and doing something daily to advance the organization) with the highest engagement level going to Canada and the United States at a whopping 29%! If there was ever an argument for improvement these numbers certainly reinforce it.
My leadership and conflict coaching work with SME’s (Small to Medium Sized Enterprises) is revealing some interesting results as we design, prescribe and help implement Conflict Management Systems. Not only are we seeing higher productivity levels, and lower employee turnovers and decreases in absenteeism resulting in significant cost savings we are seeing employees, managers and owners alike embracing a new definition of success. A healthy bottom line that protects relationships, advances a culture of fairness, empowers pride of ownership and is highly prosperous! This new bottom line is helping give people back their self-determination, increasing their confidence, and knowing they are valued and heard; the number one reason people quit!
So Conflict Superheroes are you ready to be a part of a nation changing movement that moves our national productivity and workforce engagement ratios to be the talk of the world? To perhaps turn your HR department into a profit centre as it proactively deals with conflict and measurably improves the bottom line. To move conflict from an inevitable liability to an enviable asset!
You can start today with considering the following questions;
What does your existing Conflict Management System look like?
- Does it maximize profitability and minimize cost?
- Does it empower employees to exercise self-help solutions?
- Does it help develop employee’s confidence in conflict resolution?
- Does your bottom line include protecting relationships, advance fairness, and empowering pride of ownership along with being highly profitable?
Your answer to these questions will help you consider both what you currently have as a Conflict Management System and provide some food for thought of what you might like your Conflict Management System to have.
Our passion to help people experience their best in all areas of their lives is what drives us and if you’re reading this article it probably inspires you as well! This is our time to uncover and derail the hijacker of productivity, conflict, and take the fear out of it and put the confidence back in!
Michael Walker is a professional mediator, leadership and conflict coach, facilitator and inspirational speaker. Michael is the founder and Head Coach of Legendary Coaching (legendarycoaching.ca.) and works closely with the Workplace Fairness Institute (workplacefairness.ca) in developing Conflict Management Systems.
Legendary Coaching works with powerful leaders and organizations, providing leadership and conflict coaching. From organizational development to succession planning Legendary Coaching brings diverse business experience to help take you where you want to go. As mediators and facilitators we help leaders and organizations understand and work with conflict to improve their bottom line; protecting relationships, advancing a culture of fairness empowering a pride of ownership and increasing profitability. The Conflict Management Systems we help you design and implement will improve productivity, motivation, and profitability. We deliver workshops and seminars that give participants the tools they need to start applying what they have discovered right away and be active empowered contributors to your Conflict Management System. We also offer motivational messages provide a platform to empower, inspire, and engage listeners to have fun, be great, and be powerful.
Contact: Michael Walker