KAMPALA – “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”. Thomas Edison
When you see a successful person, that person’s success is measured by the efficiency and effectiveness by which the person manages his or her activities. For managers this is ordinarily called productivity. Productivity is an input output relationship which is an indicator for good performance of an individual. Productivity is seen in as the measures for the ability to utilize resources at somebody’s disposal. Somebody has high productivity levels if that person is able to use less resources to create the same amount of output or is able to use the same resources to create greater output so when you are looking at the performance of the manager, this is extremely important in establishing the productivity of that person. If you are undertaking a particular career for instance in the accountancy profession, or as a lawyer, architect, engineer, your outputs from your work are what indicates your performance in the profession. Therefore, it is important that your output is able to be measured so that we are able to judge your productivity levels.
Careers are the predominant engagement of a person over a period of time. Careers are the occupations people go into. They are usually determined by somebody’s knowledge, qualification and of course passion.
Many of our students in our universities who join and pursue certain degree programmes say marketing, procurement, when they graduate, they look out for jobs in those specific professions. This is because they feel that their knowledge and strength are in that same areas. It is always very good if their qualifications are matched with their interests and passion.
Most people who have the passion for certain subjects will have a very successful career. Career growth takes a longer period of time but it involves one becoming better and better in that specific profession alongside acquiring the new knowledge that is coming up in that profession. There are many yardsticks of course used to measure success in a career. Salaries is one of them but not necessarily the right one. I think job satisfaction, making a contribution to the profession probably are some of the other key factors that determine career success. But a very important determinant of career success will be the ability of an individual to perform their job so well and this is what we have referred to as somebody’s productivity.
Productivity as I have indicated is the function of input output in any situation. The interest in productivity goes back to the time of industrial revolution and we have prominent milestones in the productivity story. In recent years, productivity has become more controversial.
But what does productivity actually do? Productivity enables one to have lower costs of production because one focuses on that input and does the job well. It makes somebody more competitive not only as an individual but as an organization and indeed even countries. Ofcourse if you are able to use less resources, you have more products coming out of those resources.
This ultimately enables us to have more incomes and better leaving standards. But what is it that actually determines productivity? If you see those countries that are able to dominate the world with their companies, they are the ones who high levels of productivity and if you come to a country like Uganda, for instance, look at the cost of producing maize compared to the cost of producing maize in other countries where they use robots and fertilizers, you find that our productivity is low because we do not use the right methods of production. If we want to fix the productivity question and improve ones career, we must think about a number of things that are essential in ensuring an improvement in productivity. But to be able to be efficient, one must look at those factors that drive productivity. Of course, there are different factors but essentially, three things are very important, one is the usage and adoption of technology, two which is very important our own abilities as individuals and three the environment in which you are. These are very important aspects. Regarding the technology, what kind of technologies are you using in the work place, for instance the usage of information technology to be able to make your productivity high. If you are a teacher in a university, you need to be able to adopt the new technologies of e learning. This is the only way you are going to be able to increase your productivity. Then what are your abilities? Of course, your abilities are a function of your knowledge, motivation and practice. What do you know about the profession in which you are? what is your knowledge level. Are you able to follow the trends in your subject area? Another factor which appears minor, is your level of motivation. How motivated, anxious and passionate are you about the performance of the work you are doing and the other important thing driving productivity is the environment in which you work for instance the government regulations, the state of the economy, is the economy growing, is it adopting to modern technologies, these are important aspects and you will find in developing countries like Uganda that the culture is an inhibitor to productivity.
When people start believing in witch craft and some of these traditions that are not scientific, these are hinderances to productivity.
So, if you really want to succeed and grow in your career, you must be able to measure your productivity and ensure you have high levels of productivity. Ensure you are able to utilize your resources well. You are able to adopt modern technologies. Your work environment is ideal, you continuously update yourself in terms of training to acquire new emerging knowledge in your area and be passionate about what you want to accomplish. That is how you will be able to attain career growth and focusing on high levels of productivity.
If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare composed poetry. He should sweep the streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth pause to say, “Here lived a great street sweeper, who did his job well.” Martin Luther King.
The Author; Maureen Tweyongyere is Director, Career & Skills Development Centre, Member, National Taskforce on enhancement of Labour productivity