Productivity, motivation, and team morale can all ebb and flow. Not every member of your team will be able to operate at 100% all the time. And with employees spread out across towns, time zones and countries these days, creating a cohesive team that consistently delivers results can be a challenge.
It takes time and effort, but there are plenty of effective strategies you can use to increase productivity across your team and create a positive, motivated workforce in the process. Below, we’ll walk you through the best of them so that you can learn how to improve productivity in a team in a way that’ll benefit everyone.
Create a healthy work environment
When it comes to increasing productivity, there’s a lot you can do with your workplace’s environment. If team members feel both physically and mentally comfortable, they’ll be in the right conditions to work harder.
For instance, modern furniture provides more than just a few creature comforts. When employees are having to work in an uncomfortable physical environment, it can lead to long-lasting (and distracting) issues with posture and joint pain. When this happens, their duties stop being the main focus of the working day. Ergonomic chairs and adjustable desks, on the other hand, let them find a comfort level that works for them. This applies to your remote team members too; encourage them to do what they can at home to stay comfortable throughout the day.
When employees engage with what they do, they’ll feel more motivated to put the work in. So, while a healthy physical environment is great, you can foster that engagement through other ways too. Let them know that you welcome feedback – which you’ll then act on. This can greatly reduce disagreements and allows innovative ideas to thrive. And aside from checking in on project progress, make sure you’re taking the time to check in on them on a personal level. Dissatisfaction here can easily creep into work life and lead to burnout in time.
Prioritise employee wellbeing
Poor mental health can have a disastrous effect on productivity, especially if it leads to increased sick leave. With the greater awareness of mental illness as of late, there’s a good chance your company has support and services that help employees deal with any stresses they may be feeling the effects of. If so, make sure your team are aware of any counselling or employee assistance programmes they can make use of.
If that’s not possible, there are still other ways your team can decompress, and they can be as basic as reminding them to use their annual leave. Implementing a work/life balance by setting hard-and-fast boundaries can go a long way towards avoiding the “always-on” culture – something that has become particularly damaging to morale and wellbeing of late. If you’ve noticed people struggling, then it’s always worth checking in to see how they’re doing. Let them know that you’re always open for a chat – even a small gesture like this can be hugely appreciated by team members who are shouldering a weight.
Celebrate your team’s successes
Team members love it when they know they’re contributing value to the overall company. You can do this by highlighting the achievements of your team on a regular basis. Genuine praise can be a big mood booster, lets them refocus their efforts, and keeps everyone engaged. And by going public with your recognition, other team members – as well as the entire company – can learn from these team members and the behaviours that led to success.
You can go a step further by finding out how each team member likes to be recognised. Not everyone is comfortable with having the spotlight on them, after all. It may be that you buy them a small gift, give them a quick email letting them know you’re grateful of their efforts, or even a team lunch if everyone’s put in a strong shift lately. What matters most is that you aren’t overlooking good work when it takes place.
Encourage growth on an individual level
A team that’s given room to grow is one that’s more likely to put in the work. How can you do that? Through good old-fashioned inspiration. You can do this by identifying what gets them going, and what they’d rather do less of. Nothing lets team spirit go to waste like grunt work. Instead, find tasks and projects that appeal to their strengths, but will let them learn something new, too. When they know they can grow, they’ll feel more energised by the tasks given to them, keeping them productive in the process too.
Put your team’s values in writing
Team spirit isn’t tangible, but you can make it more concrete when the things your team hold dear are properly defined. Try creating a written, shared vision that aligns business goals with everyone’s values. Before you do, sit down with everyone to discuss how you want to be perceived, how everyone should be treated, and the things that keep you motivated. When you can define the core of your team, everyone can then practice what they preach more readily, providing a vision that you can remind the team of should things start flagging.
Create efficient workflows
Once you know what the team is working towards, giving your team the processes, tools, and technology, they need to help them get there is going to be key.
Let’s look at communication. If communication is poor, then your team are going to be left confused and disengaged. Make sure you let them know about the ways you like to be contacted. If you keep an open-door policy, make that clear to the rest of your team. And to keep ad-hoc communication at its most effective, a tool like Slack is going to be essential. For big projects, something that lets everyone know how things are progressing, such as Basecamp or Asana, will be vital. Shared docs, spreadsheets and Wikis also keep everyone on the same page, ensuring no team members are left in the dark about key milestones and targets.
Build trust through authenticity
When you’re a leader, it might seem as though a guarded approach is the right thing to do. After all, you want your team to know that your steely exterior can deflect problems without breaking a sweat, right? Well, not quite. You’re a human just like everyone else on the team, and showing vulnerability and authenticity is a great way to create trust amongst your employees.
If you need someone’s expertise, ask them for help. If you made a mistake, hold your hands up and take responsibility. If a project didn’t turn out as you hoped, use it as a learning opportunity. Being vulnerable lets others on your team know that honesty and openness have their part to play on your team, creating a more positive and productive team, one that won’t be afraid to take risks – and mistakes – from now on.
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