Worried About Your Team’s Productivity? Here’s How You Can Improve It
An orchestra never plays as an unsynchronised solo act.
A platoon of soldiers never go on a war as individuals.
A heart operation is never done by a single doctor.
And a five-star hotel is never run by a single chef.
In each of the above scenario, there’s a full team. Each of the teams has a leader among them. And each of the leaders ensures every member of the team works in perfect harmony for success. Their productivity is unquestionably high and they make it seem so effortless. Wouldn’t you agree, that’s how we all want our corporate story to be?
For your business to succeed, you need to ensure that each of your team member is contributing their best to it. Definitely this is easier said than done. They pledge their time, commitment, loyalty and efforts in order to align themselves to the company’s visions and goals. Hence, if you wish to improve the outcomes, you need to put in a different kind of effort yourself.
Here are the top four challenges that you must overcome to ensure your respective teams or organisations gears up to achieve high productivity.
1. Assembling the right team
Problem: You can’t have people with the same thinking or skills or personality as it would eliminate the opportunity for variety in perspective. You can’t even have totally diverse personalities else getting them to work together would be a challenge of its own. And hence, how you form your team plays a very crucial role in how it would perform.
Solution: Have the objective of your team written down right from the start. Clearly define roles, responsibilities and competencies that are required to achieve this objective. Let these definitions guide you while choosing the members, ensure that each one contributes in some way to the other. The idea isn’t to find a person who ticks all criteria but to have a group of people who complement each other and meet the purpose of one team. Remember, they have to achieve the goal together, not as one individual competing with one another.
Another important aspect about assembling the right team is ensuring the team member fits in the prevalent company culture; it not only helps keep an organisation together, but also acts as a beacon of light, helping both employers and employees make sense of the way forward. They know clearly what works and doesn’t work, and how they are expected to behave or not behave. We have explained how you can attract the right talent in our previous blog where we talked about a proprietary model, called the Culture Triangle©, which elaborates on the three main aspects that bring out an organisation’s culture.
2. Bridge the communication gap
Problem: In business, miscommunication causes more loss than most other human errors. Lack of conversation or extremely professional one could make things dull and boring. The style of communication also determines how the information reaches or is received by the employees. Poor quality of internal exchange or lack of it, especially in critical moments of the workflow can shatter corporate results in a blink.
Solution: You could be the type of leader who is a peoples’ person or the exact opposite kind; in both cases the efforts required to build communication bridges with employees will always require effort. The effort has to be made at two levels, one with the team at large and the other with individual employees.
At the team front, get into a practise of conducting structured, yet time bound formal discussion for work related communication. Keep the focus on how the team can progress on the project rather than taking stock of the current status. This will ensure that the teams look upon you as a solution provider rather than a ring master, there by opening various avenues for clear and direct communication. At an individual employee level, the only thing that would work, would be if you are able to find the time to genuinely take interest in your employees’ personal goals, interests and ambitions. At least of those who directly report to you.
3. Set process for measuring and monitoring the quality
Problem: Defining quality parameters in a service-driven business is difficult. This could involve a lot of subjective elements which could be influenced by individual bias and prejudices. The inability to have a quality control department like that in product-driven corporates makes it harder to ensure the quality of the end product. Invariably lack of quality output gets flagged as a productivity issue, while it actually is a quality control challenge.
Solution: Make it a process to identify quality parameters for each project before the project kicks off. Pre define how these parameters will be measured and the frequency of measurement. It need not be a long list of indicators, just the one or few that are most critical to achieve a high quality output. For example: in case of service driven businesses, adherence to SOPs, customer feedback and experiences can be used as a measure for monitoring quality.
Having constant conversations and random checks and inputs would help keep a tab on the consistency of it. Factor in the feedback from your employees as to what would they need to increase their efficiency and how or where can we take the support of technology. They likely have a better idea than you do, and they’ll appreciate your interest. You don’t need to make any commitments. Just listen. Maybe you can say, “I can’t make any promises, but I’d like to get your suggestions.”
4. Relook at motivation techniques
Problem: Immediate managers and team leaders are unable to convey the company goals or keep the employees motivated. Sometimes, they are not able to answer queries or provide efficient training to employees. Often leaders deploy the ‘Negative Reinforcement’ strategy but in the current work scenario where employee quit their jobs at a drop of a hat; this strategy is most likely to backfire and do more harm than good. Over-dependence on annual bonuses, medilciam insurance policies and paid vacations have lost their ability to retain and attract good talent.
Solution: Have informal interactions with each member of your team to understand what motivates them. Provide incentives that foster growth and keep them motivated to the task. Have a mechanism in place that helps them cope up when they are low and turn it around to a productive one. There is a significant shift in the way rewards and recognition are given by companies today. All rewards must be aligned to meeting organisational goals. Having smaller but frequent monetary rewards, point systems, and spot recognitions help engage employees better. Offering flexibility in case of difficulty, for example like that of transportation, might serve as a reward in itself.
Leading a team requires you to master the art of people management skills. Everything happens in a logical process. For example: you think of a product, manufacture it, advertise it, and then sell it. You can’t afford to advertise before you manufacture or sell before you think of a product. Similarly, in a team, it is essential to lay down a plan before expecting the results. Work towards developing your team through various training programmes and workshops that help them work in synergy with each other. Outline the way your team would follow the processes you set for them and how to tackle the sudden bottlenecks in the way.
At Yellow Spark, we help our clients understand their team dynamics and work towards offering a custom-made solution to improve their productivity. For a personalised solution for your business, you can write to us at email@example.com
Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer, and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.