How to Keep your Team Focused and Productive During Uncertain Times

Omer Saleem, Director and Deputy CEO of Proven

By Omer Saleem, Director and Deputy CEO of Proven SA

Big businesses grow and adapt as the market environment changes and do so even more rapidly now with the accelerating technology options. With this growth and infusion of technology driven changes comes a new requirement for corporate positions to evolve with the corporation itself. It has become ever more critical for the overall success of entities that every position is filled by an agile employee whose workload is role-based and goal-oriented, the aim being 360 degree success. Today’s COVID-19 scenario is a prime example of how well-functioning corporations can face shocks to business as usual that can fundamentally change service delivery with downstream effects touching almost every internal part of the organization as well as the impact to the business from the overall market itself.

Productivity is synonymous with getting things done efficiently. Productivity is defined differently for each organization and subsequently measured uniquely as well. Some organizations will measure productivity through client satisfaction while others may use operational metrics. Internally, each department might have further functionally driven metrics such as employee satisfaction in the HR department or whether the marketing department is targeting the right audience at the right time. Whatever scale your business uses, a structural understanding of the business and a clear yet fluid job designations must be in place.

In most cases in today’s market, productivity is measured at a departmental level with department specific criteria but a holistic business level productivity review is often missing which often leads to underperformance and diminished value creation from existing resources. It is critical to align to departmental metrics of productivity with organizational goals and subsequent strategy. As the market takes on new situations like an unexpected and fast-spreading pandemic, new challenges arise that put all individuals, businesses, the market and the entire world to the test. Productivity must become a more common topic in the workplace in order to make sure every employee is working at the highest level that helps the business create maximum value.

Internal operations must not revolve around one department’s work in favor of the other. When managers start to feel like their departments are not creating value, they will feel the same way about their jobs and this demotivation will seep into their subordinates. As a business, your highest mission is optimum value creation. This can only be achieved if each role in the organization has clear visibility of high level company goals and align their personalized goals for their respective roles. It is imperative in the current fast moving environment to have regular communication along with agile, clear goals aligning managers with the company goals which they can then optimize for their reportees to create maximum value.

The same goes for individuals; how will you approach business as usual? How will your performance lead the business to achieving its goals? Tasks will automatically take long-term and short-term forms, and business tools will document these and set timelines and deadlines for them. As a result, the following elements will play a key part in boosting productivity:


Managers connect the base of the company pyramid to its vertex; they communicate the large-scale goals and transform them into operational goals. Managers need to have consistent communication with their employees and help define the priority, duration and outcomes of the operational goals. The communication needs to be in both directions. Managers should not only provide regular feedback to their employees but at the same time raise their concerns upwards to higher management and serve as their voice. Productivity is maximized if managers fulfil this role and bridge the gap between higher strategy and operational delivery. The managers should be the key resources during uncertainty to keep the organization anchored and play the immense role of mediators and motivators.

Human Resources

It is now more important than ever to focus on the retention and development of your employee base. As businesses become more specialized and clients more demanding active knowledge management and employee retention become a key driver of success and productivity. Identifying high performing employees and putting them in leadership roles will create a culture of growth. Productivity gains can be made by putting a focus on matching employee needs and aligning these with company goals. During uncertain times it is imperative to provide clear guidance for employees so that they may do more than their role job descriptions and take on additional responsibilities according to their skills sets to mitigate costs and increase value creation.


Healthy, open communication channeled properly between stakeholders remains one of the foundations of a successful business. The medium of communication within organizations and between employees if evolving very quickly. If an open culture of communication is established, then organizations can successfully navigate almost any challenge which the market throws at them. During volatile times open lines of communication will be the pillar on which companies will navigate through the turbulence. The importance of quickly establishing clear communication channels for operations along with other business elements is key. It is critical to keep employees and clients connected in uncertain times. There is a direct relationship between productivity and communication. Effective communication helps inspire everyone to work efficiently and productively.

Technical Support

Technology is fast become the backbone of most modern businesses. Service delivery in many instances is solely dependent on the fluid operation of a company’s IT infrastructure. It is imperative that organizations not only pay attention to pairing the right resources with the business needs but also project any fluctuations accurately in order to facilitate business continuity during volatile periods. Having IT support which fully understands the business and provides ongoing support and solutions to enable business can be an indispensable asset. A seasoned technical support team might seem to be an expensive overhead on a general basis but will yield dividends in maintaining business operations during any volatile periods thereby increasing productivity.

It takes a concentrated and focused approach to build a business which is agile and can navigate through times of uncertainty. The above-mentioned elements are just some of the areas of enablement. Each business is unique and has its own requirements for success. Navigating unforeseen scenarios requires a business to have synergy between its various elements. It needs to have leadership which is proactive in addressing the needs of the business, its employees as well as clients. Maintaining productivity through turbulent periods many times differs from productivity through business as usual environments. A company and its leadership needs to stay agile during uncertainty and redefine what it means to be productive depending on the scenario at hand.