6 Ways Leaders Can Improve Team Productivity
A leader is responsible for ensuring that their team remains efficient and productive—even when facing unprecedented challenges. By implementing modern management techniques that are intended to improve time management, reduce employee stress, and enhance the quality of meetings, team leaders can encourage higher levels of productivity from each team member, boosting the overall efficiency of their organization’s operations. To reach and sustain this higher level of performance, leaders should develop a diverse leadership approach which leverages the following techniques, each of which can impact workplace productivity by enhancing the team’s daily routines.
Francesco Cirillo developed the Pomodoro Technique as a time management method used to break the work day into short intervals, helping to limit procrastination and boost productivity. To achieve the best results with the Pomodoro Technique, leaders are encouraged to instruct all of their employees to follow its core guidelines, which are select a task, work on that task for a set interval (Cirillo recommends 25 minutes), and take a short break (one to five minutes) before getting back to work. Once four full Pomodoro intervals have been executed, a longer break, ranging from twenty to thirty minutes, should be taken, giving employees time to restore their energy and realign their focus with new objectives if necessary. Having these scheduled rest breaks built into the planned workday encourages employees to work faster during times of production and helps to eliminate time-consuming distractions, ensuring that more can be achieved in the day. Furthermore, utilizing the Pomodoro Technique allows leaders to better understand, as well as to help their employees to understand, exactly how time is being spent and also how it can be spent more productively. By monitoring how employees’ work while using the Pomodoro Method, leaders can also provide suggestions on how their employees can improve themselves.
To maximize team productivity, it is important that employees focus their attention directly on completing important tasks first. This concentration requires clearing the mind of distractions and limiting the number of external disturbances that can interrupt a workflow, especially as unfocused work can lead to mistakes, wasted time, and a drop in overall productivity. One means to encourage focus is incorporating time and stress management tactics like the Pomodoro Technique or meditation to employee routines. Through methods like these, leadership personnel can present their staff with the cognitive tools required to keep them focused at work.
Leaders are also responsible for streamlining the workflow of their subordinates as much as possible in order to achieve maximum productivity. Using a straightforward, streamlined production process, leaders can develop a team-wide sense of urgency that keeps productivity focused on the highest priority tasks within each project, program, or initiative. Doing so is best accomplished by deliberately allocating time to specific tasks and putting a detailed plan in place for the day. These plans are most effective if they hinge on realistic short-term goals that promote the most efficient usage of time, labor, and attention. By creating such explicit plans of action, leaders can keep employees focused on necessary activities and improve the overall efficiency of their organization.
Encourage Physical Activity and Time in Nature
A Stanford University research study discovered that the act of walking encourages the production of more creative thoughts and responses. As the generation of creative ideas is an integral part of improving team productivity and helping solve problems that may be hindering progress toward team goals, leaders should encourage their teams to take time to walk outside to get their creativity flowing in a productive direction. Productivity can also be enhanced by introducing a low-energy form of exercise, which pumps endorphins into the bloodstream and ultimately reduces work-induced stress. Even when people spend time only sitting or standing in a natural setting, they may still experience some of the scientifically proven benefits of being in nature, like improved concentration and increased short-term memory. In pursuit of recognizing these benefits, leaders should incorporate forms of activity into the daily routines of their teams by encouraging outdoor lunches or scheduling team walks.
Richard Branson, who founded the multinational conglomerate the Virgin Group, believes that when compared to long-running seated meetings, standing and walking meetings inspire greater creativity from attending staff. During standing meetings, attention is more focused on the people in the room, rather than mobile devices, laptops, or other common office distractions. Without these distractions slowing down the meeting process, business topics can be discussed more precisely. Leaders can amplify team productivity significantly by learning how to save time using brief standing meetings in their workplace communication routine.
For a leader, constructing open lines of communication between team members and management is a critical aspect of maximizing workforce productivity. Building a culture of open communication ensures that leaders are constantly sharing and receiving feedback on their firm’s performance, while also inviting employees to provide valuable constructive feedback about the performance of their leaders as well. Although it is impossible for management staff to be directly involved at every single level of a business, regular communication with employees allows leaders to gain necessary insight into the operations of each department. The information received through regular and open communication can be used to develop new, more effective practices, helping employees understand that their voices are being heard and that their ideas are important to the success of the organization.
To encourage more communication in the workplace, leaders should invite employee input during meetings, implement a system that carries suggestions to the top levels of management, and provide consistent updates on projects that concern the interests of the workforce. When a communicative approach is implemented in a leadership strategy, the entire organization can operate more smoothly to achieve successful progress towards goals.
Organize Team Activities and Outings
Team productivity can be negatively influenced by staff members who resist communicating, cooperating, and exchanging trust with their colleagues. Facilitating opportunities to develop strong interpersonal relationships is important to productive leadership, as these relationships can produce trust, one of the most important traits of a productive team. To this end, leaders should promote team activities, staff outings, and general team building exercises in order to foster strong relationships between team members and members of upper management.
While there are many different types of team-building activities that can be utilized to improve productivity, choosing an effective activity should be done with the intention to improve a specific area in which some team members may be lacking. Competitive games or athletic events may incite a friendly spirit among employees, encouraging them to do their best to earn achievements in the workplace. Office celebrations for holidays or other special events may allow team members to experience the more social aspects of their colleagues’ personalities, allowing them to connect with them in a new manner. The ultimate goal for leaders when organizing such activities is to help their teams become more reliant on one another, permitting more opportunity for higher workforce productivity.
When a leadership strategy attentively focuses on improving productivity through communication, collaboration and time management tactics, an organization can experience tangible progress towards its goals. For current and aspiring leaders, developing the skillset and knowledge for helping an organization optimize productivity through its employees can be learned through a Master of Science in Leadership program.
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Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Leadership program is designed to help you demonstrate the skills and knowledge needed to lead teams and inspire progress, while also growing your career. The program is practical and pertinent, allowing students to apply leadership concepts immediately to their careers.