11 STEPS TO BOOST TEAM PRODUCTIVITY
They say New Year’s resolutions are a bit like babies: They’re fun to make but extremely difficult to maintain. Here are a couple of resolutions that are worth keeping.
so, 2016 didn’t turn out to be the year that you ran a marathon, learned French or stopped drinking beer on weekdays. Instead, it was a struggle for survival amid a weak economy, disruption and unforeseen challenges (hence the need for beer). You flew by the seat of your pants; things happened, you responded.
For 2017, be proactive. See the new year as a chance to take the wheel and steer things in a new direction:
Start by taking 2016 in review. Ask yourself what worked and what didn’t, says Judy Goodwin, a change consultant and coach in Cape Town. “Take a look at those actions which yielded the results you wanted and those that didn’t.”
For example, if you exhausted yourself in providing extensive hands-on training for a new employee when you could have delegated this, “what did you learn from that experience and how can you apply it to your advantage in the New Year?” asks Goodwin.
Compile a list of things you want to start, stop and continue doing to guide you into 2017.
Set clear goals for the new year. You need to know exactly what success will look like at the end of 2017: What do you want to achieve this year? How can you better meet your clients’ needs and solve their most pressing problems? Be specific about your end-goals and then work backwards by breaking them down into a number of milestones or objectives that need to be achieved, tied to specific dates. Importantly, make sure that your team is on the same page; they should share your vision of what needs to happen, and how their own activities tie into the greater picture. Recognise that unforeseen events may force you to revise your strategy, and that determination and new thinking will be required to achieve your goals.
Have a proper conversation every day. “We live in a relationship age where our currency for success is built on the quality of the relationships we build,” says Phephile Simelane-Modiselle, business strategist and director at True North Consulting. “And relationships are built one conversation at a time.” She recommends taking the time every day to have a conversation with a team member that is not task-focused, but aimed at getting to know the other person. “It doesn’t have to be long – five minutes will do.” Also, give positive feedback, every day. This year, make a point of recognising good work and initiative in your team. Recognition is a powerful motivator; make sure that you establish a culture of always acknowledging good work in your team. Reward team members with greater responsibility and more opportunities. Also, make it a priority to listen better this year. Don’t interrupt constantly, and value your team’s input. “Learn to hold a strong point of view lightly,” says Simelane-Modiselle. “Test your assumptions and leave room to be influenced by new and different points of view. Maintain your strong point of view, but don’t let it consume you such that there is no room for anything else.” And when something goes wrong, take care to use approriate language. Blaming and belittling will undermine trust.
Stop doing low-value work. These are activities that contribute little or nothing to your customers, nor do they further any business priorities or goals. Typically, low-value work deals with business “hygiene” – activities that may be necessary (like submitting invoices, making travel arrangements or attending meetings about internal issues). High-value work, in contrast, really adds value for your clients. Some lowvalue activities (like weekly meetings to report back on progress in a specific project) are easy to replace with a single email, while others can be outsourced or delegated effectively.
Set clear goals for the new year. You need to know exactly what success will look like at the end of 2017.
Adopt time-blocking. This technique will help you make the most of every working hour. Start every day with a clear idea of what you want to achieve, then dedicate “blocks” of time in your diary to those goals. During those times you are only allowed to focus on a specific task – no email, no Facebook, no phone calls. This will help you achieve “deep work”, the ability to focus without distraction on a demanding task. Deep work allows you to focus and quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time.
Restore the work/life balance in your team. Make sure they know that you respect their lives outside of
work. If you do work at night or over a weekend, set an example for your staff by scheduling your emails to only go out on Monday morning. Allow for flexibility in when and where your employees work. Manage your own time wisely and don’t make long hours a badge of honour. Judge your staff by their outputs, not by how long they are in the office. Encourage them to take time off.
Fail faster. The world is changing at a break-neck pace, you need to innovate much faster and inevitably this will mean a higher failure rate of new initiatives. Don’t cling to ideas (and people) that do not work. Cut your losses and move on. Also, don’t paralyse your team with a fear of failure. If you only award success and doom those who took risks and lost, your team will learn that inaction is better than action. This cannot lead to innovation and real long-term growth.
Have the tough conversations. Make 2017 your year of setting boundaries against behaviour that you find unacceptable. Voice your concerns and fight back. Also, if you don’t get along with your manager or colleague, take the initiative to sort out resentments and discuss the things that prevent you from having a constructive engagement.
Do good. A recent Deloitte study in the US found that four out of five millennials would only feel job satisfaction if their work served some sort of greater purpose, and research by Gallup showed that for the majority of younger workers, purpose was more important than profit. Work with your team to see what you can do together to contribute to making the world a better place.
Make your team a safe space. Google’s groundbreaking study into its top teams showed that psychological safety was by far the biggest determinant of a team’s performance. Members of the top teams felt secure enough to ask stupid questions or take risks. They didn’t feel judged the whole time, and could admit mistakes freely, without fear. They understand each other so well that they don’t get competitive or take offense. The Google study showed that teams which have established this safe space were rated as effective twice as often by the management of the company and brought in more revenue.
Establish psychological safety in your team by getting to know each member really well on a personal level, and creating the environment for them to socialise and understand one another better.
Make your circle bigger. Get a larger view of your industry and the opportunities out there by linking up with new people. Join an industry body or professional organisation, go to conferences, join LinkedIn and actively seek out new views.