Da Vinci @ Work: Meet Jason Potgieter

No time to waste when productivity is at stake

If there’s one thing that irks BCom graduate Jason Potgieter, it’s time spent unproductively. “That’s my pet peeve; I can’t stand it. There are a multitude of deadlines here and if you don’t make the most of your time, it annoys me. The issue of productivity stood out for me straight away,” he says, referring to the *topic of the work-based challenge he completed as part of his BCom degree in business management, specialising in supply chain management.

True to his nature, Jason wasted no time in assessing the state of productivity at the Durban branch of international courier company Seabourne Express, where he is a branch manager.

Measuring productivity

“I explained to everyone at the branch that we were going to measure our productivity to see how we were doing and to make the best of what we have. I then sent out a questionnaire to all the staff to gauge their understanding of their productivity and where they are at. I also held individual meetings with the supervisors, because a lot of people will write what you want to hear, as opposed to the true state of productivity during the day,” he says.

His analysis and scoring of the data resulted in staff being grouped into three categories of productivity: unproductive, semi-productive and productive.

After checking the results for accuracy and reliability, Jason used the branch’s visual display system to show a flowchart of productivity at the branch, showing each person’s score. “I also sent out tips and suggestions on how to improve productivity during the day.”

For example, he sent out suggestions on how to delegate and manage time, and how to capitalise on good moods to get more done – all guidelines he picked up while doing research for his BCom degree.

Following up and tracking progress

A few weeks later, Jason sent out a second staff survey, went through the analysis and scoring process, again and again, displayed the new results for everyone to see. The results were positive: some of the lower scorers had moved up and some of the top scorers were under pressure to retain their strong positions, says Jason. “For those who like the recognition for all their hard work, there’s nothing better than having your name at the top of the list.”

His managing director was at his oral defence when he presented his results and asked afterwards when his system was going to be implemented at Seabourne Express branches nationally.

“That’s what we are currently doing,” Jason says. “The first set of questions have just come back and are being analysed, and by the end of the year, we will be able to gauge productivity countrywide.:

*The formal title of Jason Potgieter’s work-based challenge is, “Identifying low productivity and the tools used to manage productivity”.