~by Hannah Whittenly~
If you’re leading a team, you may have found that getting them to do their best work from day to day is one of your biggest challenges. Trying to force them to work harder and faster may be counterproductive as it fosters resistance and bad feelings. You certainly don’t want to face a contest of wills every day. Instead, you have to find ways to organize and support them.
Here are some ideas for getting your teams to be more productive.
Stop Repetitive Meetings
A significant chunk of your team’s day may be spent in progress or production meetings. Even 15 or 20 minutes a day can amount to lost production of well over an hour for each team member every week. Don’t make these meetings mandatory for employees with important work to do. You could even scale back to having a rotating or designated spokesperson for each team. Put out feelers beforehand, and if there are no important developments to discuss, skip the meeting.
As the team leader, it’s your job to anticipate issues that may become roadblocks. You have to organize your operations around key employees who are sick or on vacation, unavailable resources or equipment, potential bottlenecks, and technical questions. Use ERP, project management, or other tools, but if you come to a juncture where work stops, then it’s poor planning on your part.
Step Back and Observe
If you’ve done a good job of training, equipping and motivating your teams, you shouldn’t be in a position of having to micromanage any processes in place. It’s your place to get teams functioning well as modular units, and then stay out of the way until intervention is called for. In the meantime, you can monitor and evaluate performance. Your time is better spent inspiring and strategizing, as it should be.
Design Better Work Environments
The right workspace is just as important as the right tools and the right people. Creating a sea of cubicles or a room packed with workstations and equipment may not be the best way to promote workflow. Workspaces should be comfortable as well as functional, with space and comfortable seating for impromptu visitors and meetings. However, what is comfortable is always subjective. So you might have each employee pick out their own chair from a vendor that supplies a variety of different types.
Constantly challenging teams to do more will only create the feeling that what they accomplish is never good enough. Team members must want to do more. You should find ways to engage and inspire them, and freely express your gratitude and appreciation when they exceed expectations.
Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She graduated from the University of California-Sacramento with a degree in Journalism.