Having a positive, driven and collaborative team is essential for a productive workplace. If there's constant miscommunication, low engagement and a lack of trust, deadlines will be missed and your business will suffer.
Building a strong team spirit will create an environment where everyone will not only want to work, but also strive for excellence. With this in mind, let's take a look at 6 simple and effective ways to improve your team's productivity.
Emphasize Your Mission
Being clear about your mission and why you do what you do is key to motivating your team. Reinforce the goals of each stage of your projects and what the reward will be upon the project's completion. It will not only keep everyone driven to perform, but it will also help clarify your process and ensure that you're on the right path.
Enable Strong Communication
A team that is able to communicate effectively will be able to share insightful ideas, use their collective thinking power to find better solutions to common problems, and provide useful feedback that can improve the workplace for everyone. While disagreements will inevitably arise, your team will be able to resolve the issues and continue moving forwards.
Start by setting grounds for when, where and how your team can communicate. For example, how often should meetings be held and how long can they be? Can employees communicate via text messages, or only emails? Answering these common questions will help get everyone on the same page and become more efficient.
Optimize the Workplace
As proven by research conducted by office equipment company Herman Miller, certain optimizations in the layout of a workplace can significantly boost productivity. Both open-office designs and closed cubicles have their benefits, but your best bet would be to discuss this with your team and come to a decision as to which type of layout they prefer.
Ideally, you would want to have a space where employees can come together to socialize and have productive discussions. Smaller improvements such as incorporating standing desks, ergonomic equipment and other products that make employees feel more comfortable can also boost productivity.
Organize Team Building Exercises
Team building not only helps everyone get to know each other better, but they will also form stronger relationships and add a bit of fun into the workplace. They don't have to impact your productivity either, as most exercises only take 2-4 hours.
These team building treasure hunts from Team Tactics are a great example. You can personalize the challenges to incorporate your company values and treat your team to a great time, which is something everyone can appreciate.
Offer Rewards and Recognition
Your team members will be much more driven to achieve if they know their hard work will be recognized or rewarded. It doesn't necessarily have to be a monetary reward; team-wide emails showing recognition to those who achieved, a personal showing of gratitude, extra vacation days, or a small gift all go a long way in motivating your team.
Create Social Time
Team building happens more during breaks than when everyone is working. It's been proven that taking breaks help workers stay focused, retain information better and re-evaluate goals. Organize a weekly get-together at the café where your team can take a few minutes off in the morning to get together and discuss the day ahead, for example.
Last but not least, saying "thank you" is more powerful than you might think. Even for smaller, seemingly less meaningful accomplishments, those two simple words will go a long way in motivating your team to keep pushing forward.
Correct utilization of these strategies can skyrocket your team's productivity and help you accomplish goals in record time, so get started today and you will quickly see the benefits.
During a recent meeting on Microsoft Teams, I couldn't seem to get a single word out.
When I tried to chime in, I kept getting interrupted. At one point two individuals talked right over me and over each other. When I thought it was finally my turn, someone else parachuted in from out of nowhere. When I raised and waved my hand as if I was in grade school to be called on (yes, I had my camera on) we swiftly moved on to the next topic. And then, completely frustrated, I stayed on mute for the remainder of the meeting. I even momentarily shut off my camera to devour the rest of my heavily bruised, brown banana. (No one needed to see that.)
This wasn't the first time I had struggled to find my voice. Since elementary school, I always preferring the back seat unless the teacher assigned me a seat in the front. In high school, I did piles of extra credit or mini-reports to offset my 0% in class participation. In college, I went into each lecture nauseous and with wasted prayers — wishing and hoping that I wouldn't be cold-called on by the professor.
By the time I got to Corporate America, it was clear that if I wanted to lead, I needed to pull my chair up (and sometimes bring my own), sit right at the table front and center, and ask for others to make space for me. From then on, I found my voice and never stop using it.
But now, all of a sudden, in this forced social experiment of mass remote working, I was having trouble being heard… again. None of the coaching I had given myself and other women on finding your voice seemed to work when my voice was being projected across a conference call and not a conference room.
I couldn't read any body language. I couldn't see if others were about to jump in and I should wait or if it was my time to speak. They couldn't see if I had something to say. For our Microsoft teams setting, you can only see a few faces on your screen, the rest are icons at the bottom of the window with a static picture or even just their name. And, even then, I couldn't see some people simply because they wouldn't turn their cameras on.
If I did get a chance to speak and cracked a funny joke, well, I didn't hear any laughing. Most people were on mute. Or maybe the joke wasn't that funny?
At one point, I could hear some heavy breathing and the unwrapping of (what I could only assume was) a candy bar. I imagined it was a Nestle Crunch Bar as my tummy rumbled in response to the crinkling of unwrapped candy. (There is a right and a wrong time to mute, people.)
At another point, I did see one face nodding at me blankly.
They say that remote working will be good for women. They say it will level the playing field. They say it will be more inclusive. But it won't be for me and others if I don't speak up now.
- Start with turning your camera on and encouraging others to do the same. I was recently in a two-person meeting. My camera was on, but the other person wouldn't turn theirs on. In that case, ten minutes in, I turned my camera off. You can't stare at my fuzzy eyebrows and my pile of laundry in the background if I can't do the same to you. When you have a willing participant, you'd be surprised by how helpful it can be to make actual eye contact with someone, even on a computer (and despite the fuzzy eyebrows).
- Use the chatbox. Enter in your questions. Enter in your comments. Dialogue back and forth. Type in a joke. I did that recently and someone entered back a laughing face — reaffirming that I was, indeed, funny.
- Designate a facilitator for the meeting: someone leading, coaching, and guiding. On my most recent call, a leader went around ensuring everyone was able to contribute fairly. She also ensured she asked for feedback on a specific topic and helped move the discussion around so no one person took up all the airtime.
- Unmute yourself. Please don't just sit there on mute for the entire meeting. Jump in and speak up. You will be interrupted. You will interrupt others. But don't get frustrated or discouraged — this is what work is now — just keep showing up and contributing.
- Smile, and smile big. Nod your head in agreement. Laugh. Give a thumbs up; give two! Wave. Make a heart with your hands. Signal to others on the call who are contributing that you support and value them. They will do the same in return when your turn comes to contribute.
It's too easy to keep your camera turned off. It's too easy to stay on mute. It's too easy to disappear. But now is not the time to disappear. Now is the time to stay engaged and networked within our organizations and communities.
So please don't put yourself on mute.
Well, actually, please do put yourself on mute so I don't have to hear your heavy breathing, candy bar crunching, or tinkling bathroom break.
But after that, please take yourself off mute so you can reclaim your seat (and your voice) at the table.