Shawnee Love • January 10, 2019
Last week our blog discussed how to increase personal productivity. This week, I am going to share the three factors I think are most important to team productivity.
Before I go there, I have to mention that teams won’t become highly productive if you don’t have these basics in place:
- The people must each be competent (hiring and/or training efforts must have been successful).
- They must also be in positions for which they are well suited and fully comprehend (organizational development and/or training are often required for people to fully understand their roles).
- They need to get along (often solid leadership and/or teambuilding efforts are necessary to ensure they respect each other and each other’s roles; however, it doesn’t mean they have to love each other).
- There can’t be any serious obstacles in their way (a core responsibility of managers is to clear the red tape and hurdles).
When the basics exist, enhanced productivity will result if your team has:
- Goal(s): Ensure team members know what they are trying to accomplish as a team and what specifically each member is accountable for on a basis that makes sense for your business. Breaking your projects or goals into weekly deliverables and then a daily top 3 (or 5) items which need to be done that day can be an effective way to get to the desired results.
- Communication Methods: Team members need to have ways to share information, ask questions, provide updates, and simply engage with each other. I encourage:
- Weekly meetings (also known as check in’s or huddles or conference calls for those who work remotely) to reconnect with the team, share information so everyone is in the loop, and make necessary recalibrations of activities or assignments.
- A mechanism for storing information that is searchable. Tools like google drive, a wiki, or even shared folders can work well for ensuring the organization can share and store information in a format which is searchable.
- A chat feature. Email is ubiquitous but it doesn’t mean it is always useful. More and more people leverage texting or apps like slack which make for more effective collaboration because they make it easy to interact, get up to the minute answers, and have a little fun while you are at it.
- Roles and Responsibilities: Clarify what role each team member is supposed to play in helping the team accomplish it’s goal(s).
- Decision Making Mechanism: I love the quote, “if everyone is thinking the same then someone isn’t thinking”. It’s so true, but it also means team members will inevitably find themselves disagreeing. Having a way to make decisions (including about disputes) is absolutely necessary. Two mechanisms for decision making include:
- Having a leader with the authority to make decisions (usually most efficient but sometimes not empowering), or
- Creating a protocol for decision making which identifies the parameters and guiding principles of decision making.
One final note is that while there are many examples of best practices out there for each of these productivity tools, it is more important to ensure the methods work for your team. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel, but there is great value in picking the best from the relevant tools available and building your methods from there.