All the productivity hacks in the world won’t matter if your team is operating in ways that at their core are inefficient. Here are three things to stop doing today in order to boost your team’s productivity.
1. Stop making decisions without getting input from your people. It might feel faster to make decisions all on your own – after all, it takes time to gather input from other people, and that can slow you down. And while there will of course be plenty of smaller decisions that you’ll make without input from others, when something is big or will affect your team, it’s smart to seek input from them before you make the final call.
This is important for two reasons: First, people are far more likely to buy into your decisions if they feel that their input was given a fair hearing, as well as to feel invested in the team’s direction. Invested employees are more likely to give their work their all – which will generally mean your team as a whole is getting better and faster results. Second, you’re more likely to make good decisions if you have the benefit of hearing multiple perspectives. No matter how smart and capable you are, you’re likely to benefit by hearing how others see things, and team members may point out issues with a proposed solution that you hadn’t thought of or suggest a better way of doing things. (And if you doubt that’s true of your team, that’s a flag to take a look at why. You might not be hiring the right people, or you might not be drawing on their talents enough.)
2. Stop overloading your team with meetings. Talk to nearly anyone in nearly any job and ask what wastes more of their work time than anything else, and you’re likely to hear “meetings.” Most of us spend way too much time sitting in meetings – meetings for status updates, meetings for brainstorming, meetings for information sharing, and meetings with no clear purpose at all. And it’s not that meetings are never useful – but often they’re less useful than the other things that participants could be doing with their time.
It’s worth taking a hard look at how many meetings your team has and seeing if you can streamline them. If you have weekly staff meetings, can they be cut back to every two weeks or even monthly? If your project schedules have built-in meetings, are they always truly necessary? Challenge your team to identify meetings that aren’t meeting the bar of “the best possible way we could use this team” and see what they come up with.
3. Stop overloading them with email too. Email can be a great productivity tool, but if people’s in-boxes are being flooded with unnecessary emails, sorting through them all to figure out what requires action and what doesn’t is going to keep them from more important work. Encourage people to stop sending “FYI” emails or replying all unless it’s truly needed, discourage them from using email to sort through complex issues that will require lots of back and forth, and make sure that your decision-making procedures aren’t so ambiguous that people feel obligated to loop in others more than is actually needed. (And be sure to model these behaviors yourself, because people will follow your lead.)
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