7 steps to maximize team productivity

by Wendy Soon on February 19, 2014

productivity_bannerTime is money, and thus productivity is a gold mine. Assuming that each one of us are holding onto a gold mine, then the question is HOW do we maximize the yield from this gold mine? How can we maximize our team’s productivity, so we get the most output from the least input? Here are some suggestions:


  1. Communicate. Communication breakdowns are the biggest waste of time. There is often nothing wrong with the product/pipeline/paperwork, but miscommunication hinders the smooth execution of a process. Instead of technical issues being the bottleneck, communication becomes one, which is completely and utterly unforgivable. So in order to remove this unnecessary bottleneck in your work progress, put in place multiple measures to ensure smooth communication between your team members. Drill into them the importance of communication (not assumption). Force everyone to acknowledge receipt of an email or any form of knowledge —  be it a short reply of “ok” in an email, or a nod of a head — never move forward without that acknowledgement that the information has been passed on. This hard-wired way of ensuring communication can be tough in the beginning, but as everyone gets used to it, it will become part and parcel of their daily work. And you will be grateful for putting that in place, for it will definitely save you time and trouble of miscommunications.

  2. Celebrate all wins and learn from losses. Admit the fact that our teams are made up of human beings. And we all have emotions. Make it a point to celebrate when things go well, and specifically praise and reward the people who made that happen. Reminding ourselves that our efforts do pay off, and knowing that each person’s contributions are appreciated, will help go a long way in keeping a motivated team. A motivated team is a productive team. Of course, we do not forget the reverse — losses. Reflect and review all mistakes. Do not avoid talking about it, but instead look it deep into the eye to find out what really went wrong in between. Make a strong note of what needs to be changed, so it never happens again. Reducing failures and losses is an indirect way of increasing productivity.

  3. Get everyone to know each other well. Teams are not teams for no reason. Teams have to work very closely together in order to make something work. And these people cannot work well together if they do not know each other well. Organize team bonding activities, go for coffee breaks every now and then, celebrate birthdays together. Through all these time spent together, understand everyone’s individual way of working, know each person’s pet peeves and motivations. Instead of pushing everyone into working the maximum hours you are paying them for, take time to do these once in a while — the investment will pay off with a happier, well-bonded, effective team.

  4. Put each employee in the work situation that will set their greatest motivator into motion. As mentioned in my previous point, each team member will have a different way of working, and a different motivator. Make sure you find out the motivators for each person, and arrange them to work in a situation that will trigger that specific motivator for them. For example, if one team member is motivated by customer satisfaction, let him/her work on the frontline of interacting with your customers, so he/she will receive motivation directly from the satisfied customers. On the other hand, if the team member is motivated by numbers and figures, let him/her work on data processing and market analysis, so he/she will be motivated by the figures generation by the data, and he/she can spread the motivation with other team members who are directly responsible for the work that would lead to that data. Everyone has a different talent and a different motivation — finding the perfect job for each of your members is the key to maximizing their potential and their productivity.

  5. Have a shared mission. Teamwork is, as the word portrays, work that is accomplished by the entire team working together. Henceforth, the entire team needs to acknowledge their common mission and shared goal. It is only then that everyone will work well together, towards the same goal.

  6. Be loyal to the team and its mission. As a leader, display a good example by being loyal to the team and mission. Bond well with the team, show them that you have empathy for each one of them, and display your strong motivation in achieving the team’s missions. By the connection that you build with the team, coupled by the respect you gain from them, they will follow your lead in becoming loyal to the team and mission.

  7. Avoid rivalry and comparisons. In a team setting, rivalry and competition is common. This is especially apparent in larger teams, in teams where more than one person is doing a single job, and where gray lines appear between sub team’s job scopes. Healthy competition is good, but it can be a slippery slope to strong rivalry that shreds any team bonding present. As a team leader, you have to work extremely hard to make sure the team does not even get close to that. Make sure you have no biasedness towards any team member, thus not stimulating jealousy to gain your attention, nor competition to outshine each other. Celebrating wins together and ensuring a shared mission amongst team members (points 2 and 5) help to further build team bonding and exclude team rivalry. It is only when team members are not focused on outshining one another, and are instead focused on the shared mission of the team, can the entire team be at its most effective and productive.

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