Improving Team Productivity

Working hardTalk to anyone in work and they will tell you that they are busy. Yet there has been much coverage in the recent press, on TV and on the radio about the latest ONS statistics that the productivity of the UK workforce is too low. Indeed, the official statistics show that other G7 countries are on average 17% more productive than the UK. Managers and supervisors are judged on the productivity of their team. So how can we encourage greater productivity in the people we manage?

There are many distractions in the modern work place - from emails, social media and phone calls - to name a few. So staying productive can be a challenge. Here are four tips to help you boost the productivity of the people in your team:

1. Encourage Effective Information Capture
One of the most effective ways to boost your team's productivity is to encourage the habit of capturing the information they need to act on effectively. This means capturing it at the point it is given to them and then transferring all the key actions they personally need to take into a single task reminder system (i.e. a to do list).

Capturing actions into a single place makes it easier for people to decide which tasks to do. After all, our brains are best used for problem solving and decision-making, not as filing cabinets! By encouraging your people to capture actions correctly you will make it easier for them to carry out their commitments and to focus their efforts on tasks which are genuinely important.

2. Environmental Empowering
To do our best work we need to be in the right environment and doing it at the right time and be in the right state of mind.

Most office environments are good if you are doing focused decision-making tasks but not so good for tasks requiring creativity. For creativity based tasks you get better results if you work in a more information-rich environment, like a café or a park, rather than at their office desk. Encouraging your team to think about the kind of work they will be doing, and selecting an environment accordingly, improves productivity.

Your team members’ moods are just as much a part of the working environment as the physical space in which they work. The work they will produce when tired or low is different to that they will produce when happy and full of energy.

Sometimes people need to “take a break” to refocus and refresh. Train them to make best use of this non-prime time for work that needs minimal concentration, such as some routine admin tasks.

By helping your people to think strategically about the kind of tasks and the best working environment for those tasks you can empower your people to make the most of their working situations to achieve results.

3. Educate them on Using Email
Your team probably send, and receive, a high volume of email. High volume, often low urgency emails, are best processed as a batch as this is the most efficient way to deal with them. Get your team into the habit of using methods other than email (such as the telephone) for communicating truly urgent messages, and to set aside times when they will check and respond to the emails they receive. The frequency of this will, of course, be dictated by the types of emails they routinely get.

By educating your people to give emails the attention they deserve (almost certainly less attention than they're giving them now) they can free up their time and attention to complete more important work.

4. Review Your Personal Time Management
Over time we all fall into habits and routines that may be adversely affecting our personal productivity. As a manager it is important to remember that your team will copy any "bad" time management habits" you have. So set a good example of high personal productivity by reviewing your use of time and eliminating any personal time wasting that you do.