TMCnet Feature
February 22, 2021

6 Tips for Leading a Highly Productive Team

How to Maximize Productivity in the Workplace

Successful teams are productive teams. And unproductive teams eventually fail in spectacular fashion. While productivity is not the end-all and be-all, it’s a defining factor in the pursuit of almost every other business goal or growth-related objective.

The question is, do you know how to lead a highly productive team?

What Makes a Productive Team?

There’s a commonly repeated phrase that says you should “work smarter, not harder.” And while that sounds great, many business owners and managers are left wondering what that means. In other words, how do you do it?

According to entrepreneur Dave Nevogt, productivity is the synergy of three factors: quantity, quality, and efficiency. To be more specific, a productive team checks off the following boxes:

1. They complete their work and get through a “reasonable” quantity of tasks. They meet deadlines and don’t waste time on things that don’t directly drive these core tasks.

2. They perform good quality work and the finished results always meet/exceed expectations.

3. They waste no time on tasks or distractions that are lower priorities. Time and effort – both individually and collectively – are leveraged efficiently.

Nevogt uses a Venn diagram to explain what this looks like visually. The small section at the middle of the three overlapping circles is where productivity occurs.

6 Tips for Increasing Productivity

Knowing what productivity is gives you some contextual information for improving tasks and processes, but it doesn’t stop there. Now it’s up to you to reengineer how you approach the most basic parts of your organization in an effort to combine quantity, quality, and efficiency into a perfect blend.

1. Set Clear Goals

Is it possible that your team’s lack of productivity can be traced back to a lack of clarity surrounding what it means to be productive? Most teams have an abstract idea of what it means to be productive, but many lack any sort of tangible understanding of what it looks like in action.

Set your team up for success by setting productivity goals and then tracking progress toward these goals. Each goal, whether it’s related to customer service, marketing, sales, or IT, should have specific key performance indicators (KPIs) attached to it. This allows for objective tracking and analysis of goals in real-time.

2. Ruthlessly Eliminate Productivity Killers

Before you turn your attention to improving productivity, you should start by identifying the tasks that are bleeding your productivity tank dry. In other words, what are the three to five productivity killers that prevent your team from operating at peak levels on a daily basis? Examples include:

  • Team meetings
  • Over-reliance on email communication
  • Workplace distractions
  • Scheduling dead space (small pockets of time between meetings or tasks)
  • Dated technology or equipment

Once you identify these productivity killers, you have to be ruthless in eliminating them. You might feel some tension – and you may even get a little backlash – but the quicker you cut them off, the faster time and energy can be reallocated to the things that matter.

3. Arm Your Team With the Right Tools

There’s never been a better time to reevaluate your technology stack and look for opportunities to deploy more efficient solutions. Experts in the field believe artificial intelligence has the ability to transform human productivity – possibly even 100X’ing what’s capable in the average organization. Things that weren’t possible five years ago are now becoming practical. It’s your job to empower your people with the right solutions.

The beauty of this new wave of AI-based tools and scalable cloud solutions is that they’re accessible. Small teams and large organizations alike can architect impressive tech stacks without much upfront investment. For example, you could use:

  • Slack for internal team communication
  • Todoist for daily productivity tracking
  • Asana for task management
  • Time Doctor for time tracking
  • Helpscout for customer service engagement
  • Canva for user-friendly design

Those are just a few examples. If you have a need, there’s a good chance that a tool exists to solve that issue. It’s up to you to find and implement it.

4. Outsource What You Aren’t Good At

What’s a task you’re trying to handle in-house that falls outside your team’s strengths or capabilities? As business owners and managers, we often have this complex that makes us feel as if everything has to be kept under our own “roof.” But if we’re honest, there’s nothing wrong with delegation. More specifically, make a habit out of outsourcing non-core tasks that are time-consuming and/or outside of your area of expertise.

Software and web development is a great example. Though you may have someone on your team who can fumble through developing an application, sticking them on a project like this actually hurts productivity in other areas of the business. By outsourcing development, you can save that lost energy and put it into a core task.

5. Improve Workplace Conditions

Sometimes it’s the simple details that have the biggest impact. In a study on workplace conditions, researchers found that employees are 30 percent more productive when they have the freedom to decorate their offices.

If you think about it, that’s a pretty incredible statistic. Just by giving employees the green light to personalize their workspaces, you can dramatically improve their output. It also makes you wonder how small improvements to elements like lighting, decor, and soundproofing could further enhance team output.

6. Shift Your Management Style

Good managers are always conscious of the line between micromanaging and managing. And while there’s certainly a time for direct oversight and frequent follow-ups, be wary of erring too far into the micromanagement side of things.

Employees need direction, but you should trust that they have the initiative to get the job done. Spoon-feeding and hand-holding might help a project get done, but it ultimately hinders all future projects. Trust the people you’ve hired. If they give you a reason to no longer trust them, might need to have a more definitive conversation about their future.

Give Your Team a Productivity Boost

Productivity issues can be complicated. It’s rarely as easy as implementing a 1-2-3 action plan and solving the problem on the spot. But if you understand what truly drives productivity, as well as some of the unique systems that can be leveraged to move the needle, you’ll fare far better than most teams.

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