Overall, leading a team is not easy, especially when their productivity and motivation are your responsibility. At least good leaders should also be tracking their teams' productivity and finding new ways to foster it.
However, this is no easy feat, you also have to keep track of tasks, goals, performance metrics and so much more. Keeping your team in sync and happy is the first step but maintaining and tracking their productivity is not as straightforward.
1) Set realistic goals and communicate them
Goal setting has been spoken about for decades as the foundation for any team. It implies creating and sticking to specific benchmarks to achieve an overall expectation.
Everyone has heard of goals one way or another but not many know that it's a process that involves careful consideration and a lot of hard work. Not every goal is the same, or appropriate for every business. You wouldn’t give the same benchmark of an enterprise that makes millions in revenue to a startup that just raised its’ first funding, right?
Without creating clear and realistic goals for your team you are bound to cause stress and reluctance among team members. Studies have shown that around 40% of employees state that stress negatively affects their productivity.
The importance of goals for boosting productivity is that it makes a distant future look more doable. The foundation of creating realistic goals is that all steps necessary are clear and communicated properly with your team.
As each member has full visibility of what they have to do to achieve expectations they will feel less confused, aggravated or stressed with work. The best part is as long as your goals (the realistic ones) are achieved then you can have a better understanding of how productive your team is being.
You can also compare the amount of work that has been delivered to previous periods of time. Is your team working faster but compromising quality? Or have they found their sweet spot?
2) Be clear when assigning roles and responsibilities
Roles and responsibilities refer to the tasks that are associated with each person’s job description. Which then describes their role within the company. Normally each team member has different responsibilities that need to be completed each day or week. So, these need to be clearly defined to avoid delays and confusion between the team.
The more thorough they are defined, the less likely your team will suffer from lack of motivation and burnout. Actually, the fact that what each person has to do is understood by everyone, reduces the time spent on unnecessary meetings and calls.
As a manager, it's your responsibility to ensure that this is actually the case within your team. Engaged employees are more productive which can result in a 21% increase in profits for your organization. The more they understand what is required from them, the more they will achieve and in turn, the more motivated they will feel to reach expectations.
It’s especially important to assign roles and responsibilities based on each individual's skillset. You wouldn’t assign coding tasks to a copywriter, would you? As you make sure that tasks are being delegated to those who have the best skillset for it, you can be confident that they will complete the task successfully.
Also, give them space to build their skills, this way not only are they developing their expertise but also boosting their productivity by letting them choose where they want to take their career. You could say that a good way of tracking productivity is not only how many tasks they complete and how well they are done but also, how many new skills are they developing?
3) Don't just track time but also results
Time tracking is usually referred to as how businesses log the working hours of their employees. The point of doing this is to have a good picture of where time is being spent and if your team is efficient or not.
Overall time tracking is seen in a positive light. At the end of the day, time is one of our most expensive currencies as we can never retrieve the past. So, it might almost seem obvious that being time-efficient means improved productivity. Especially when research states that we are only productive for just under 3 hours a day. However, this is not always the case.
What matters is how you choose to use time tracking. On one side you won’t want to use it loosely where tasks aren’t tracked properly. It would end up being another waste of time. But you also don’t want to be too strict with the process either. It shouldn’t take your team longer to set up their tracking than to do the task.
Both sides of the spectrum will tamper with productivity, building frustration in individuals due to lack of time efficiency or too much control. That’s why it’s important to not only focus on this but also on the results that come out of it.
For example, you may have a team member that takes significantly longer to complete a task than usual. Does this mean they aren’t productive? Or could it be another type of underlying issue? As mentioned previously, do they have the right skillset? Is their workload too demanding? Maybe they encountered bottlenecks that they couldn’t resolve alone.
Although time tracking has been proven to be one of the most popular forms of tracking productivity, you need to take it with a pinch of salt. As stated there could be other problems that need to be addressed before accusing someone of slacking.
4) Leave time for conversations
Research states that proper communication in the workplace can boost an organization’s productivity by 25%. Making it one of the most important aspects to first look into when trying to improve how work gets done.
As a manager, building good communication skills is a must and provides significant short and long term benefits. Being a great communicator means that you can motivate your team to deliver work, faster, with better results and fewer misunderstandings. Which will contribute to the company's overall success as well as your own personal success!
There are different types of communication that occur within a business. From meetings to updates, 1 on 1s and the daily conversations that tend to happen through chat channels.
Communication can be essential for two reasons. First, good communication means that your team is aligned and knows exactly what each one is doing and why. Second communication between team members and managers boosts their overall well-being.
It’s important to provide time so that people can talk about other subjects that's not just work. By doing so, you can pinpoint situations that may be affecting how a team member works. For example, are they going through a tough time at home? Not sleeping well or any other health implications that can be affecting their work?
Taking time to talk to your team as people and not just employees will allow you to have a deeper connection with them. Which in turn will boost trust between team members.
Keep a log on how each person is doing. Although this might not be the normal way of tracking productivity. It provides you with the opportunity to keep track of the overall well-being of your team. If you see that spirits have been low, maybe it’s time for a team event?
5) Find the right work management tool
You may have noticed that a lot of the topics in this post revolve around the fact that you need to be good at planning to keep your team productive. However, planning for an entire team, regardless of the size is not an easy task. A lot of constraints and variables need to be taken into consideration.
By using a work management tool like Planless, half the work is done for you. All you have to do is define what has to be done and who’s on your team. Then, Planless will calculate all the possible scenarios, providing you with the best plan to deliver work efficiently.
Most importantly, the algorithm matches tasks to the skillset and availability of your team. This means that each member will have responsibilities that are connected to what they do best. Planless will then build their schedule by planning work around other events, like meetings, 1 on 1 or even holidays and sick leaves.
Not only does a work management tool help you plan your team for their maximum efficiency but also limits the amount of time wasted during working hours. It’s reported that 89% of employees waste any amount of time at work. With the top 10 percentile spending upwards of 3 hours on average!
With Planless, for example, you as a manager will have full visibility of what everyone is doing. Allowing you to reduce the amount of time it takes for alignments. Team members can keep track of exactly what they need to do and by when straight from their own dashboards. By having all important information on one platform, time is not spent on unnecessary meetings and calls just to get back on track.