Chapter 6

Productivity and Accountability

Theoretical Introduction – Theory Behind the Scenarios

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
– Benjamin Franklin

In developing digital youth work competence, it is important to be mindful of the range of opportunities to carry out youth work, be it face to face, detached youth work, youth information, or youth clubs. The EU Commission’s publication on Developing Digital Youth Work speaks to the idea of an agile mindset in youth work, as well as the broad range of Agile processes that are in play across a range of industries.

Interestingly, there is a lot of chatter today about developing the right mindset. It is not just associated with Agile but relevant to anything else that might help companies adapt and respond to the changing business landscape, technology shifts and consumer preferences. One problem is that most training and education focuses on specific method names — Agile, Scrum, Kanban, Scaled Agile, Design Thinking, DevOps and these wrap up mindset into fairly complicated processes, practices, values and principles.

In fact, if we consider how to be more productive and accountable in our work, the realisation is that mindset is really part of our core belief systems. It’s the foundation that everything is built on and we need to be explicit on what we believe; what we value.

These beliefs and practices often shape our progress at work. Consider this…

Do you know this person?

  • Someone with a suspicious mindset
  • Someone who is trusting
  • Someone who is entrepreneurial
  • Someone who is always happy and positive
  • Someone who is so negative that they bring a cloud into the room just by showing up?

Mindsets can be volatile. You might be in a positive mindset today, and a negative one tomorrow. But, whilst there are potential changes day-to-day, there tends to be norms within a person. And, indeed, inside organisations — which, in company terms, tend to be called culture.

Let’s consider the area of Productivity and Accountability as we have defined it;

“Managing own work with ownership by setting and meeting goals, even in the face of obstacles and competing pressures Prioritize, plan and manage work to achieve the intended result.

Demonstrating additional attributes such as working positively, efficiently and ethically, committing to work with a sense of ownership, by being reliable, punctual and professional. Collaborate and cooperate effectively with teams – Respect and appreciate team diversity – Be accountable for results”.

Productivity is important since it is the way in which success and failure are established in the working world. Being productive means being able to produce a something of a certain quality with a given timeframe. Accountability is equally important since it is how we are assessed on productivity in the working world. People are held accountable for the actions they take to complete a task.

Our irish research report shows us that Employers note the importance of young people being able to demonstrate certain behaviours and attitudes. These include reliability, strong work ethic, initiative, organised, attention to detail and a positive approach to their work. In relation to ‘Future Skills’, it is again noted in Ireland that while it is widely acknowledged the future is less obvious due to the pace of technological change, some employers are already naming that their employees need to be agile, open to change and adapt much quicker than they do right now. Change is now the norm as disruption is happening within all sectors.

In 2019, The National Youth Council of Ireland launched Skills Summary as an easy to use online tool that measures the skills young people gain by participating in youth work and volunteering opportunities, building their confidence, so that they can better communicate the value of these essential skills to future employers. You can see it on

In our research reports, we find in Romania, among the skills wishlist that employers cite for skills they would like young people to possess are; Communication skills, Flexibility and Adaptability, Results Orientated,
Proactvity, Ability to work in a team, Problem Solving and Efficiency. Whilst trying to bring balance to an over all competence level, it is recognisable that the area of Productivity and Accountability draws together many of the key knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to cover this.

Productivity is the ability to create a product using these skills: setting and meeting goals, prioritizing needs, managing time, working ethically, collaborating and cooperating with colleagues and clients.

Accountability and productivity are interconnected. Accountability is taking a role in the creation of a product and taking responsibility for the performance of the product. Young people need to have examples of how Productivity and Accountability works, and where better than through example.

The objective of this chapter is to provide you with tools and corresponding scenarios, so that a mindset of being agile, productive and accountable for one’s own work is promoted. You will gain knowledge on key steps in planning, improving, refining and justifying performance through practice. At the end of the chapter, we suggest a set of exercises that you can use when meeting with young people. You don’t have to use all of the scenarios – choose the most suitable for you and your audience. Feel free to modify them if necessary, but test them, take the time to properly perform all of the exercises and tasks proposed. This includes doing your own preparation and finding appropriate resources in your language, reading recommended texts and testing the tools before you propose them to the young people.

One of the scenarios (Workshop 6.3) is an offline workshop, and is suggested to help encourage the mindset of productivity. It is intended to help the learner cope with a fast moving / stressful situation, yet generate learning from failure and overcome and understand the prospect of improvement, ultimately resulting in success. This is a typical reality for a work situation, and the scenario leans on other competence areas such as teamwork and problem solving. However the overall learning will encompass enhanced competence in Productivity in a Reflective setting. We are mindful of the diversity in learning styles when presenting an activity such as this one, so we suggest an alternative based on the same learning model, which does not require a mathematical mindset. A really fun activity which ever way you implement it!

Teaching productivity and accountability involves practice! Improvement comes from practice, so showing young people how to prioritize the tasks they are required to complete, to set goals that are SMART, and to plan well and to allocate and manage time according to the demand imposed by the task to be completed. If young people learn these skills, they become good at managing projects. Good project managers are in high demand in the 21st century Information Economy.

Trilling and Fadel (2009) say that teaching students to work so they produce results or high quality products involves teaching them how to:

  • Work positively and ethically
  • Manage time and projects effectively
  • Multitask
  • Participate actively, as well as be reliable and punctual
  • Present oneself professionally and with proper etiquette
  • Collaborate and cooperate effectively with teams
  • Respect and appreciate team diversity; and
  • Be accountable for results (Trilling & Fadel, 2009, p. 83).

We are lastly reminding you that some of the barriers to Productivity are procrastination, and communication overload. While Digital Technology plays an important role in assisting people to be more productive, it also creates may possibilities for distraction, losing concentration, losing focus and missing important goals or objectives. With this in mind, we suggest a healthy balance and a reminder of our online behaviour through an online tool mentioned in the last scenario;

Some Learning Outcomes we could expect from the activities in this competence area include:

  • Developing an agile mindset towards digital youth work
  • Have awareness of how to support existing youth work goals with digital media and technology
  • To be able to plan digital youth work according to the needs and hopes of young people: their interests, preferences, aspirations, hobbies, styles and online habits
  • Enhancing organisational skills utilising digital and non-digital methods
  • Using experience and knowledge of efficient practice to help others
  • Being able to work effectively in multi-disciplinary groups and settings
  • Achieving goals and being accountable for results
  • Refining work and developing efficiency

Further Reading and Resources: