Managing a team can be tricky, no matter how large the team is. Making a team productive can be even more challenging.
It’s not always obvious why a team isn’t working efficiently. Many factors can influence how they work — like company culture, communication style and work-life balance — and how productive they are.
The right management style can also help to boost your team’s productivity — and by a lot. These tips will help any manager to make their team more productive.
1. Encourage Communication
Effective communication is at the heart of any productivity-boosting management strategy. If team members wait for communication or work without direction, they’re likely to be less productive than they can be.
This is especially true for distributed teams where all team communication happens over the internet.
Setting communication expectations and providing communication tools will help you keep your team in touch. Collaboration technology like Google Docs and chat tools like Slack is a good place to start.
Photo: Direct Media
If your team already has good communication technology and is still struggling with communication, regular meetings and team-building events can help.
2. Lead by Example
When trying to boost team productivity, it’s good to start with your productivity habits. Often, team members pay attention to how you act in the office or communicate over email.
If you’re smart about how you spend your time, your team can follow your lead — adopting your productive habits and making themselves more efficient.
This is especially true if you find yourself overwhelmed by work. It’s hard enough to lead a team when things are going well. Without time, it may be impossible for you to effectively guide your team. Identifying how you can make your own schedule a little less hectic may free up time for management.
3. Set Clear Goals
To boost productivity, you need to have a solid idea of what your team should be doing. Establishing goals that are clearly defined and actionable will help you both think about team management and provide team members with a direction to work in.
This will help you make sure your team is working on the most important tasks. If each team member has a clear goal they’re working on, it will also be easier for you to track progress.
4. Balance Autonomy and Direction
A productive team needs autonomy. Employees should have some permission to make decisions on their own — like the meetings they attend, the conversations they participate in and the work they delegate.
At the same time, a directionless team isn’t a productive one. Regular communication with your team will let you know if you’re giving your team the right balance between autonomy and clear direction.
5. Create a Good Working Environment
Even the smallest changes to an office space can affect how enjoyable it is to work in. For example, did you know that both coffee and tea can have a big impact on brain function, energy level and mood? Offering both in the office kitchen is one small way to make the office a more pleasant working environment.
Noise level, temperature, humidity and light level can also have an effect on the quality of your team’s working environment. Using equipment like smart thermostats, new lightbulbs and dehumidifiers can help you adjust how comfortable the office is.
If you work with a distributed team, creating a comfortable working environment may be harder. Securing additional monitors, comfortable mousepads and other ergonomic home office equipment can help to make working from home much more pleasant and productive.
Photo: Kristin Hardwick
6. Give and Receive Feedback
The best team leaders create opportunities for their team to both give and receive feedback. Two-way conversations about team performance help you communicate with your team while learning more about their perspective on current work.
Regular meetings, employee reviews and casual conversations are all great places to learn more about how your team is working. You can also use reviews and one-on-one meetings as an opportunity to pass on feedback from clients or discuss a team member’s current performance.
7. Optimize Meetings
While communication is essential, not every meeting is guaranteed to be productive. Meetings are both necessary and often considered one of the biggest office time-sucks.
Knowing how to keep a meeting on track will let you make the most of dedicated meeting time. For example, many productivity experts recommend that you only organize meetings with clear goals. Sending out reading materials before the meeting can also help — ensuring that valuable meeting time is spent on communication, not reading.
8. Preserve Work-Life Balance
Finding ways to keep work and life balanced for your team can help you seriously boost team productivity.
For example, scheduling downtime is just as important as scheduling meeting time. If your employees feel like they’re on the clock 24/7, they may have a harder time differentiating between work time and relaxation time. This is especially true for distributed teams, where there may be no boundary between office space and home space.
A lack of work-life boundaries can easily lead to fatigue and burnout — productivity-killers that workers may need days or weeks to recover from once they become a problem.
When planning projects and creating work schedules, be sure to consider how you may be impacting each team member’s work-life balance. Without enough downtime, productivity gains you secure from requiring longer hours or greater availability may eventually start slowing down your team.
How Good Management Can Help Boost Team Productivity
The right management style can make any team much more productive. Clearing common productivity road bumps — like communication issues, ineffective meetings and lack of direction — will help any team work more efficiently.
Upgrading team comfort can also help. A pleasant working environment and good work-life balance are both great ways to improve team productivity.