productivity 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!

 

Get a Handle on Emails to Boost Productivity

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Depending on who you talk to, the use of email is one of the greatest advances in business communications or the worst thing to affect productivity in the past several decades. Every CEO and business owner knows what it’s like to open his or her inbox to a deluge of emails—many of which aren’t worth their precious time.

If you’re a business leader who’s truly committed to effective time management, it’s essential to get a grip on this issue, or risk losing even more time and effort when these resources are in such rare supply. Here are suggestions for tackling email overload and freeing up your time for more critically important business objectives:

Get a protocol in place. According to productivity experts, email overload is symptomatic of a larger organization problem—the absence of clear-cut protocols. “If your organization has ambiguous decision-making processes and people don’t get what they need from their colleagues, they’ll flood the system with email and meeting requests,” notes Amy Gallo at Harvard Business Review. This results in a potentially crippling backlog, “which leads to even more email and meeting requests from frustrated co-workers trying to follow up.”

The key is establishing guidelines for everyone in the organization (including you!). Suggested protocols can include:

  • Limit the sending of emails to people who have a genuine action item
  • Determine when it’s necessary to copy co-workers and when it’s not appropriate.
  • Pause before you hit “Send” and asking yourself, is there a more efficient way to get my questions answered (i.e., calling on the phone sending an instant message).

Invite employees to offer their own suggestions on how to curb email overload and then implement the most effective suggestions into a company-wide email policy.

Control the flow of your own email output. Are you guilty of sending too many emails to people in your company on a daily basis? This can be particularly troublesome if key policy or organizational issues are being discussed via email, necessarily requiring a great deal of back-and-forth discussion. (In such circumstances, email is a notably inefficient resource.) Make more selective use of the “Reply All” tool (and request that others reduce the number of “For Your Information” emails they send you every day).

It’s a simple principle: The fewer emails you send out, the fewer will come back to clog your inbox.

Unsubscribe! Speaking of your inbox, how many irrelevant emails do you get from sites you subscribed to in the distant past? Whether it’s a sales newsletter, promotional messages about exclusive vacation offers or notices from online publications you no longer read, take every opportunity to click on “Unsubscribe” when these messages appear. It generally only takes a few minutes to complete this process—and saves you untold amounts of time and distraction when they no longer pop up in your inbox, demanding your attention.

Make use of email productivity apps and collaboration tools. There are plenty of apps designed to help users organize and control what appears in their inboxes. Enlist the help of an assistant or someone in IT to install the right app to reduce the flow of unwanted (or non-urgent) emails you see on a daily basis.

Also, if your team is presently using email as a collaboration tool for ongoing projects, opt instead for more advanced collaborative resources (Google Documents is a good start, but there are many other tools out there). This way, people can conveniently access the information they need from co-workers on a shared site, rather than communicate incessantly via email (and often copy managers or others). This alone can significantly cut down on the flow of emails throughout your company.

Communications is always a top business priority, but by setting guidelines and adopting the use of superior technology, it doesn’t have to consume nearly as much time and energy as in the past. Email remains a great tool, as long as you stay in control of it, rather than the other way around.

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