Every team has its highs and lows. Sometimes everybody in the team is laser-focused on a common goal and gets after it every day relentlessly, and constantly pushes themselves and others. And sometimes productivity plummets like an anchor with no apparent reason or explanation. There isn’t a simple solution to that issue. But there are guidelines and steps to take into consideration when battling with the lack of your team’s productivity. In this article we will talk about what team productivity is, we’ll discuss how you can try to increase it, and last but not least how to measure your efforts to better see if they bear any fruit. As always, fetch your favorite drink, and let’s move forward, shall we?
What Is Team Productivity?
Productivity is a metric that is used to describe how well an individual or a team creates as output. For individuals it usually refers to how much they accomplished in a day, as for teams – it translates to how many projects or assigned tasks have been successfully completed for longer periods of time (week, month, quarter, etc.) Being productive correlates directly with how valuable you are. The more productive an employee is, the more important he/she becomes to the company. Productive employees and teams are invaluable assets to any company. But they don’t just appear out of thin air. A lot of effort and time is expended to cultivate a healthy environment in which people can thrive easily. Leadership is also an important part of the productivity puzzle. Low-performing teams are generally associated with poor leadership. Every team is capable of performing well so long as the leader responsible for that team is doing a proper job. There aren’t bad teams, there’s just bad leadership. So, what can leaders do to enable their teams to be more productive?
How To Increase Team Productivity?
As we pointed out earlier, there is no way to automatically turn up your team’s productivity — it takes a lot of work and effort from both sides. Hacks and quick fixes don’t exist, but there are realistic ways to try to increase productivity.
Strive for quality, not quantity
Acquiring monthly targets is important for the overall morale of the team. Most of the time they all come down to hitting a certain number of a certain metric. For example, a support team operating within a region has to close a certain amount of tickets per month. This can be good, but it can also backfire. The team might successfully hit the monthly target and get their bonuses, but customer satisfaction might drop. While quantity is important in the short term, quality is way more important in the long term.
Prioritize and execute
Today’s businesses are complex. Teams often have to juggle between several projects and individuals have to be responsible for more than one thing. When down in the weeds, teams often can lose sight of what’s important. Having a common goal to serve as a navigation point is paramount. It should serve as a compass and as a unifying factor. If everyone is on track with the main goal, with what’s important, they will know how to prioritize properly and avoid confusion.
Even top performers can’t thrive for long periods of time if they are under continued, ongoing stress. Ensure that the company culture promotes a healthy balance between work and life. Allowing employees to communicate freely and openly also sets an environment in which they can express their worries and personal life issues which might hinder their performance temporarily.
You shouldn’t immediately fire someone if they aren’t performing their tasks well. As we mentioned before, this might be because they are going through a rough patch in their private life. A lot of the time, underperformers just need a bit of training. Also If you allow employees to express how they want their careers to evolve, they will tell you the exact seminars/workshops/courses they want to attend in order to improve and perform better. By investing in your employees’ growth you ensure that their performance will stay on top.
Technology is your friend
The tech sector changes hourly. It feels like newer and better products arrive each month and if you don’t take advantage of them, it feels as if you are missing out and you’re losing traction. You don’t have to use different products if the one you currently use is getting the job done. But you have to consider upgrading when the right time/product comes. Investing in the right tools can give you an advantage and can significantly improve productivity.
How to track and measure the productivity of your team?
If you don’t have a way to measure something you can’t really understand if it’s going well or badly. Before trying to improve productivity you have to set a baseline for where it currently stands. Output isn’t entirely correlated with productivity. Productivity is not as easily as quantifiable as the number of projects completed. However, there are a few things you can keep track of to better understand improvement in output.
Firstly, utilize the tools you have to see how quickly your team moves through tasks. You can assume that there’s an increase in productivity if there’s an increase in completed projects per week or completion speed.
Second, keep track of your metrics and KPIs. Although this is a lagging indicator of success, it’s still a solid sign of how your teams are performing. If you notice an improvement in key metrics it likely means that there is an increase in your teams’ productivity. It’s not a direct correlation but it can be used as an additional source to check if performance is increasing.
Last but not least, trust your employees. If you cultivated a safe space in which everybody can share their thoughts without fear, then you can be certain that your team leaders will tell you if the team’s productivity is slowing down. Use team meetings or one-on-ones as an opportunity to talk about if stuff is going well or badly and if the answer is the latter, to share ideas on how you can address potential issues.
Productivity is a complex metric that involves multiple corporate processes to measure and improve. When focusing on increasing a team’s efficiency and productivity, don’t just turn up the heat, because you will burn them out. Instead, take it slow and steady. When you can identify which aspects of your team need improvement or which aspects of management, you can make the necessary adjustments and improve overall productivity within the company.