Resolutions aside, wouldn’t it be nice to feel really productive, I mean really productive in 2011?  Your team is your best source of leverage so it makes sense that our first newsletter of 2011 to productive teams.

The more productive our team is, the more productive we are.  And we both benefit from that great sense of accomplishment.  (Isn’t it just divine to be able to cross things off our list?)

Having a productive team isn’t just something that we accidentally stumble upon or wish for.  There are specific things that we can do to improve team productivity. 

1)      Establish a foundation of trust

Being able to influence other people requires a foundation of trust. So above all else, we should begin by establishing a trusting environment.

Trust develops over time when:

  • People believe that we are competent.  We walk the talk and lead by example.  In other words, we focus on being productive ourselves.
  • People believe that we are vested in their success.  Our intent is pure and we want individual team members to do well.

 We can also help to foster trust within our team by establishing some norms. How do we resolve differences in opinion? How do we nip gossip in the bud? How do maintain a relatively fair distribution of work?

2)      Engage your team

Your team will only function productively if they are fully engaged.  Engaged people are inspired, committed and passionate.  And they bring their best to their job.

  • Provide substantial ownership: Give people big pieces of important work. Be available to support them, but don’t try to stay involved with every detail.  Don’t expect them to copy you on every email.  Resist the urge to add your two cents on every small detail.  Let them recommend solutions to obstacles.  The more they feel responsible, the more they will act responsible.
  • Give them a voice: Find lots of opportunities to consult and inform your team members.
  • Seek their support: Talk to team members about changes before they are launched.  Seek their input and build their support.
  • Balance your feedback:  Constructive feedback is important.  Just remember to focus on a couple of key areas and balance it with positive feedback.  Pick your battles and avoid criticizing everything.
  • Be interested in them: Spend time with people. Ask questions. Listen to what they have to say. 
  • Pointing out their value: Help people realize that what they do makes a difference.

 3)      Establish a deadline-driven culture

Teams function much more productively when they can rely on each other.  Deadlines are the contracts that we make with team members.  Each time we deliver on a contract, we are letting them know that they can depend on us.

Too many teams are lax when it comes to deadlines.  And this impedes productivity in many ways. 

Reinforce a deadline-driven culture by (a) ensuring that deadlines are set for key tasks; (b) increasing visibility around deadlines; and (c) holding team members accountable.

4)      Help your team stay focused on their top priorities

It is easy to get pulled in many directions.  We are all more productive when we are focused on our top priorities.

When team members get spread too thin, it may be helpful to help them review their priorities and re-set their how they are allocating their time.  This can bring them a refreshingly renewed clarity and focus.

5)      Give everyone their 15 minutes (and more) of fame.

Let’s face it – we are all human and need our ego stroked once in awhile.  Find ways to share the spotlight among all team members.  Reward and recognize individual effort

Thank people for a job well done.  And try to do this in person (or at least over the phone).  Email just is simply not as effective for things like this.