Improved team productivity is a goal of most managers or business owners. You want to get as much done as you can in the shortest amount of time, without sacrificing quality. But this is often easier said than done. In reality, it’s hard to keep a group of people completely focused on a task and operating at optimum efficiency.
If you’ve been struggling with team productivity, don’t worry. There are a few key ways that you can improve efficiency quickly and start getting more done. Here are four effective methods that you can try during your next big project.
Have the Right Tools
The most effective way to increase team productivity is having the right tools. New technology and software comes out all the time aimed at helping groups of people work together better. If you’re still using tech from ten years ago, you’re probably not getting as much done as you would like.
There are a few essential tools that most businesses will benefit from in terms of increasing productivity. First, you need a tool that helps you to quickly talk to your other team members. This is especially important if your team isn’t located in the same building. A great tool for this is Slack, which provides a ton of communication features and is easy to use.
Second, you’ll want a tool that makes it easy to share files with the other team members. There’s plenty of options for this, but some of the most popular are Dropbox or Google Drive.
Finally, you’ll want a project management software. You want something that each member of your team can access at any time and find the important files related to your project. Again, there are plenty of options available to you, but you can start you search with either Wrike, Trello, or Microsoft Projects.
When browsing for tools, look for ones that are easy to use and come at a reasonable cost. You want something that each member of your team will be able to use with ease, and something that provides you with all of the features that you need.
If, when using a tool, you realize you don’t know how to use it, seek assistance. For instance, if Microsoft Excel is a major tool in your project, talk to an excel consulting company for ways to get the most out of it. Many of these tools are easy to get started with, but to take advantage of all their features, sometimes you need a little guidance.
By simply getting a good team productivity tool and implementing it into your business you can increase efficiency dramatically, so start looking around for tools you can use.
Delegate Project Responsibilities to the Right People
Next, it’s important that you know how to delegate. Your team can’t be productive if you give people tasks that they are not well suited for. At the same time, if you try to take on too much yourself, you’ll find that you’re not getting as much done as you would like.
To delegate tasks properly, you need to first know the strengths and weaknesses of your team. If you don’t know these already, take some time to figure them out. Analyze their past job performances or sit down and talk with them. Find out which areas of the project they’d excel at, and which areas are better left to someone else.
Once you know these strengths and weaknesses, it’s time to spread out the tasks. First divide your project up into clear, separate tasks. When you assign someone an aspect of the project, they should know exactly what their responsibilities are, and which areas are being handled by someone else. This will prevent two or more people working on the same thing.
By the end of this, each person on the team should have a reasonable amount of work that is well suited to their skillset. You should have also taken more off of your own shoulders so that you can focus on other tasks.
Provide an Incentive
A great way to improve productivity is to provide an incentive. Yes, your employees should be incentivized enough because they are getting paid to be there, but it doesn’t hurt to give them a little extra boost from time to time. For instance, tell the team that if they finish the project ahead of schedule, without any errors, they can have a party at the end of the week. It’s not much, but it might help to keep your team on track or work a little faster.
Or, let’s say you’re a business with a team of writers. You could create an internal competition, offering a reward to whomever finishes their assigned tasks first, or whose blog posts get the most online traffic. Friendly competition is a great way to boost productivity while simultaneously improving team camaraderie.
Here are some other options for perks you can reward your team with if you need more ideas.
Schedule Regular Check-in Meetings
If you have a project that requires a longer period of time, it’s important that you check in with your team frequently. You don’t want to assign tasks at the beginning of the project, then find out on the project due date that everything is behind schedule.
A good practice to put into place is either daily or weekly check-ins. Discuss how everything is going with the project, what problems your team is running into, and talk about any ways you can improve efficiency. This doesn’t have to be a long meeting – you don’t want to take time away from the work after all – but even a few minutes at the end of each week can go a long way. These meetings can also tell you if you’re still on schedule, or if you need to adjust any due dates.
No matter how long your project takes however, it’s a good idea to do one final meeting at the end of the project. Talk to your team about what worked well and what didn’t. Your team might have some ideas on how you can improve efficiency for future projects. Here you can also learn what areas your team members excelled at, and which ones they struggled with, so you can better delegate tasks the next time around. Even if your project turned out great and on time, it doesn’t hurt to go over everything and see what you can do better.
Bonus Tip: Set a Good Example
Here’s one more thing for you to keep in mind -your team is going to follow your lead. If you’re unorganized, missing deadlines, or fooling around at work, your team will feel free to do the same. To increase productivity, it’s important that you set a good example. Use your new tools to their full advantage, and let others see you doing it. Get excited about the internal competition you set up. Come prepared with questions to each check-in meeting. Little things like this set a good example, and soon your team will follow suit.
If you use the methods above, you should find that you’re able to increase your team’s productivity and grow your business. However, you shouldn’t stop there. You should always look out for ways to make things better, whether it be a new piece of software, a new way of managing your team, or a new incentive to fire them up. The above tips are effective, but they may not be forever, so make it a habit of always looking for things you can do better and you should find that your business remains productive for a long time to come.
Dave Schneider is the founder of LessChurn, churn reduction app. In 2012 he quit his job to travel the world, and has visited over 65 countries. In his spare time, he writes about SaaS and business at DaveSchneider.me.