You've come to that point in your management career: work isn't getting done fast enough and your team's emotional well-being is dwindling. Your own stress levels are climbing as pressure from higher-ups increases. You're trying to help your team, but no matter how hard they work, nothing is getting done and they're wilting more every day.
Your team is facing a productivity crisis. That means it's time to step back and take a look at the processes, tools, and management techniques that could be bottlenecking their progress.
Read through this list of advice to help you identify productivity weaknesses for your team — every tip includes a hyperlinked article with more detailed advice to help your team break the cycle.
Work Processes That Promote Productivity
- Create a system of accountability for your team. Public accountability triggers the willpower to work harder and better.
- Set standards for communication. What information is important to communicate? When should people give updates? Where should they share them? If you make your communication expectations clear, you'll mitigate the communication issues that so often bottleneck projects.
- Collaborate! It's true what they say: two heads are better than one. Don't miss out on the benefits of collaboration within your team.
- Improve the way you run meetings. Eliminate excessive meetings, only invite people who need to be involved, create a goal-oriented agenda, and end every meeting with "next steps." And ask the right questions during meetings, so that your time together isn't wasted.
- Encourage breaks. Lead by example and take them yourself. You can't run continually for 8 hours, and neither can your brain. Stopping for a 15-minute break from all work (not "stop doing X to go work on Y") gives your mind time to relax, so you can shake off the sluggishness and jump back into your day with full force. Read this article on the science behind the benefits of taking breaks at work.
- Use better work management tools. Check out how Wrike increases team productivity for our users.
Essential Productivity Trainings for Your Team Members
- Develop training and incentives for every employee, not just upper management. In our study on productivity, 77% of people said they were motivated by a sense of responsibility. Try giving more project ownership to the team members who ask for it.
- Host a workshop on the top productivity killers to help them identify what takes the most time away from their day (and subtly show them how they could be contributing to their teammates' slow progress).
- Learn about the science behind procrastination, and share the knowledge with your team. Understanding what makes the brain tick can help your team readjust those unproductive, "I don't want to do this," thoughts.
- Host a workshop to teach them how to build better work habits. Download this "Productive Work Habits" ebook for your own education, and pass it along to your team after the workshop.
- Share these six tips your team members can use to change their mindsets when they're stuck in an unproductive funk at work. Mindsets make a huge difference in productivity.
Management Skills to Enable Your Team's Productivity
- Ask what you can do to improve your management. You could be hindering team productivity without realizing it. Make sure you're asking the right questions, sharing the right resources, and providing proper support.
- Avoid micromanaging. According to a study in the book My Way or the Highway, 71% of employees felt micromanagement was hindering their performance. Micromanagement obstructs the powerful motivators that come with the feeling of "I accomplished something great today." As a manager, it can be tempting to grip the reigns tightly, but it's important to trust your team and allow them to make judgement calls for the projects they own.
- Set attainable goals. Assigning one large project with a deadline two months out is overwhelming. Breaking large projects up into smaller steps shows clear progress and keeps people motivated as they advance toward the final product. Read about the power of "Small Wins" in this study by Teresa Amabile.
- Help your team members constantly prioritize and re-prioritize. As to-do lists get longer, it becomes difficult for employees to concentrate on one task without feeling overwhelmed by the mountain of work they haven't started yet. Make sure you constantly communicate the top team priorities, so everyone knows where to focus their energy.
- Provide constructive, meaningful feedback on a regular basis. This will develop a culture of trust and personal growth, so your employees take pride in improving their performance.
- Praise a job well done every time — for the large tasks and the small tasks. A study by Mindflash showed that while employers thought high wages were the best incentive, many employees felt that being fully appreciated for the work they'd done was far more important.
Little Things That Make a Big Difference in Productivity
- Inspire your team with visual motivators. Post these motivational posters around the office to share quick productivity tips with your team and remind them that they're doing great.
- Invest in office cocoons (or something similar). Distractions are one of the biggest productivity inhibitors; lunch deliveries, coworkers walking past your desk, and job candidates being escorted to a meeting catch your eye and break your flow. Creating comfortable spaces for people to tuck away can help them stay focused in the office.
- Put real effort into creating a good work environment and company culture. Our productivity survey showed that 57% of people are motivated by a good mood — so make sure your team is happy. One way to check in on team happiness is by evaluating how they feel about respect in your workplace. Do they feel respected in their position? Can they respect their fellow team members and management? Employees who say no are far more likely to feel stressed and unable to focus on work.
- A team that plays together, stays together! When your team knows one another, they'll be more comfortable collaborating and sharing ideas — which leads to better, faster outcomes. Make time for bonding with this list of team-building activities that are actually enjoyable.
Productivity is a Process, Not a State of Being
"Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort." — Paul J. Meyer
As a manager, you have the power to help your team achieve more. Use the resources above and around you to help your team overcome roadblocks to their productivity.
If you have any other resources or tips that have helped increase your team's productivity, please share them in the comments below. We'd love additions to the list!