Business Tips Archives - TAB Corporate

7 Tips for Boosting Teamwork Productivity

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In today’s competitive marketplace, the benefits of individual achievement—while always important—pale in comparison to what can be achieved through high-performing teamwork. If you’ve put in the time, strategy and effort to hire the right people for your positions, then it only makes good sense to encourage collaboration for both short-term and long-range projects.

Effective teamwork can significantly accelerate completion of key initiatives, while also acting as a powerful employee retention tool. Employees thrive in a culture where both teamwork and individual initiative are valued and are less inclined to consider other opportunities for employment.

However, if your teamwork efforts are falling short, consider these action steps:

1. Select a leader. A group of employees without a leader is like a rudderless boat. Every team needs someone to take charge, address any conflicts that arise and set the tone and pace for the work to come.

2. Emphasize collaboration and open discussion. The whole point of teamwork is for individuals to bond and share their knowledge and expertise. Your job (or a manager’s job) is to provide all the technical resources necessary to achieve this goal, including:

  • A shared digital workspace, where team members can find documents and other information needed to move forward on a project
  • Easy access to the digital workplace, whether team members are in the office, on the road, in their homes, etc.
  • Opportunities to communicate informally, via chat, video, email, group forums, and so on

3. Delegate intelligently. Different employees bring different skills and qualities to the table. For a team to become more productive, it makes sense to delegate key responsibilities to those individuals best equipped to take on the tasks at hand. Assign these tasks with clearly outlined roles and responsibilities, while making sure everyone feels they’re contributing equally to the project.

4. Empower the team to make decisions. As a project or initiative moves forward, a time will come when key decisions must be made. Problems can arise when the team leader lacks the authority to make such decisions, and must instead defer to senior management and/or the CEO or business owner. Not only does this slow progress, it undermines the team’s confidence in its own ability to handle responsibilities.

As much as possible, empower the team to decide what actions to take (while, of course, keeping all relevant parties informed), so the process is more efficient and effective.

5. Keep your own involvement to a minimum. Teamwork suffers when there’s too much micromanaging from above. Resist the impulse to hold frequent meetings to stay updated on the team’s progress, or to email team members on an overly frequent basis. Give the team more time and space to focus on what you’ve asked them to do. Brief, once-a-week updates are probably all you need in order to stay on track with what the team is doing.

6. Make sure remote workers are part of the team. In some cases, a remotely located employee may offer specific benefits to a team project. It’s critically important to keep this individual (or individuals) in the loop and to make every effort to solicit their input during brainstorming sessions.

Chats and emails are fine, but “you learn more about people when you can watch their mannerisms and facial expressions.” With video conferencing tools, team members can “really connect with the members of their teams living in different parts of the world.”

7. Recognize and reward. Finally, be sure to recognize the achievements gained through teamwork and reward the individuals involved. Public acknowledgment of what the team has achieved offers a strong incentive to do more of the same, and helps promote a company culture that values both individual and team contributions—and wants to retain the talented employees who make it all happen.

Want more advice on promoting teamwork or general advice from other business owners like you? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

 

How to Eliminate Time-Wasting Meetings

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For most businesses, meetings are an essential component for getting things done. At the same time, poorly led and organized meetings are a time-consuming swamp that bedevil business leaders at every turn. They go on too long, they’re held for all the wrong reasons, they end with no action to move forward, etc.

And, as Daniel Marcus, CEO of Magnetic Software notes, “when teams are calling meetings to prep and plan for future meetings, something needs to give.”

We’re not talking about getting rid of meetings altogether, just the ones that waste everyone’s time and lack any viable ROI. Here are tips for improving the quality of your meetings and boosting productivity throughout the organization:

Draw up an agenda and stick to it. Every meeting should include a point-by-point agenda for what will be discussed. This agenda should be distributed to all those planning to attend, together with any materials people need to review in advance. Ideally, specific time-limits should be attached to each agenda item, and participants should clearly understand that other, irrelevant topics will not be addressed at this meeting.

Don’t invite anyone who doesn’t have a good reason to attend the meeting. All too often, employees are asked to attend meetings without the meeting planner considering whether or not their presence is genuinely necessary. The result? Too many people sitting in a conference room wondering what they’re doing there and walking out afterward with no answer to that question and nothing but lost time to show for it.

Think through who needs to be at a meeting and ruthlessly restrict attendance to those necessary few. Distinguish between required and optional participants, Marcus says, “so that optional participants will only attend if they have an active interest in what’s on the agenda.”

Lose the PowerPoint presentation. Virtually anything that can be displayed on PowerPoint during a meeting can (and probably should) be distributed to individuals via email or other online collaborative resources for review on their own. While a great resource for transmitting information, PowerPoint can eat up entire meetings that might be more profitably devoted to analyzing a particular challenge and assigning action steps for a concrete resolution.

And while we’re at it, consider imposing strict rules prohibiting the use of mobile devices during meetings. When employees are texting, checking emails or other keeping their eyes fixed on their phones, they’re not participating in or contributing to the meeting itself.

Take an active leadership role (or assign the role to someone else). No meeting should ever be rudderless. If a CEO or business owner calls a meeting, he or she must take an active leadership role that adheres closely to the agenda, allows no digressions, and pursues a conclusion that leaves all participants with a greater understanding of the issue under discussion—and what steps must be taken to address it, post-meeting. As an option, a meeting leaders can be designated to assume this role, perhaps in coordination with someone who keeps close track of the time for each agenda item and makes notes on related topics to be addressed at some other time. It’s very important to set an observable standard for promoting meetings that are always efficient and informative.

Explore alternatives to conventional meetings. If your culture encourages meetings that go on too long and lack a fruitful conclusion, consider different alternatives. One such option is holding a 15-minute “meeting of the day” where employees and/or managers quickly review their current work duties—bringing everyone else on the team up to speed—and then go back to their jobs. Again, a note-taker can transcribe key points and share them via an all-staff email later the same day.

Want more advice on making your business more productive and efficient? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!