Here’s how you can improve your team’s productivity.
9 min read
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As a leader, one of your most important roles is to inspire and motivate your team members. It’s like being a coach: We won’t likely become as smooth as the legendary John Wooden, former head basketball coach at UCLA, but we can study the greats and try to become more like them.
As a leader, you have to get better at calling the plays. You also need to be a mentor and instill life lessons to your young players. But, being a leader means being self-aware, admitting your shortcomings and, in this case, making leadership mistakes that are making it harder for your team to get things done.
It can be tough to realize that you may be making it harder for your team to complete tasks. Here are just nine examples of having the boss making it harder for the team to get stuff done.
1. Not helping them correct their time management problems.
What’s the top reason why we aren’t as productive as we would like to be? From my experience as a leader, it’s the struggle with time management.
I know what you’re thinking, though: Why is an employee’s time management problems your problem? If an individual can’t spend their time wisely, what’s it to do with you? Well, as my colleague John Hall explains, “it’s your responsibility to give your team a helping hand when this issue arises for them.” How can you assist your team members with their time management problems?
For starters, make sure that they’re spending their time on priorities. One way you can find out what their preferences are is by discussing what their goals are. “Ideally, these should be daily, weekly, monthly, and annual goals that align with your organization’s mission,” suggests Hall. “Not only will this give purpose and meaning to everyone’s work, but it also ensures that you and your employees are working on the right things at the appropriate time.”
After you have made that discovery, Hall recommends that you also:
- Help them resolve complex issues. For example, find out why they’re missing deadlines. If it’s because their to-do-lists are too long, show them how to make a shorter priority list.
- Reduce workplace distractions, like only scheduling necessary meetings.
- Address “planning fallacy” by setting realistic deadlines.
- Allow for more flexibility. It’s been found that sticking with a 9 to 5 schedule harms productivity. Allow your team to work when the person is most productive.
- If your team members are already working at full capacity, don’t assign them even more work.
- Encourage them to break large projects into smaller, more manageable chunks.
- Help them maintain a healthy work-life balance. Encourage your team to take frequent breaks and don’t pester them when they’re off the clock.
2. Lack of emotional intelligence (EI).
As I pointed out in a previous Entrepreneur article, “EI is simply our ability to read, feel, and respond to our emotions and the emotions of those around us.” Furthermore, emotional intelligence consists of the following four components.
- Self-awareness. Recognizing your feelings, strengths, and weaknesses.
- Self-management. Regulating your emotions so that you have a “cool head.”
- Social awareness. The social skills to read an audience and communicate your message to that specific group.
- Relationship management. Empathy for others so that you can build a deeper relationship with them.
So, yes, EI plays a huge role in not just productivity, but also being an effective leader. For example, thanks to EI, you can recognize the strengths and weaknesses of your team. As such, you can “assign them the right tasks instead of trying to handle everything on your own.” Even better, you’ll “also have the communication skills to explain the goals and expectations for these responsibilities clearly.”
3. Never leaving your office.
“A common productivity mistake I see executives making is simply sitting in their office all day,” Matt Girvan, productivity expert and co-founder of My Gung Ho, told Monster.com. “Walk around your entire office at least once every day because it gives you the chance to bump into colleagues and have a conversation.”
As an added perk, “These impromptu conversations can be used instead of sending multiple emails and having meetings,” Girvan says.
Other ways to prioritize time with each employee? Schedule one-on-ones with them, like a lunch meeting or short phone call. Not only will this create a more collaborative and trustworthy environment, but it also gives you the chance to check in with them. During these check-ins, you can find out what obstacles they’re facing and how you can help them overcome them.
An article in Psychology Today, by Damon Centola, Ph.D. talks about social networks and how they can help you exercise better. But, the same psychology may apply to a particular time spent with your employees. You need to determine the best approach for motivation for them: Is it support or competition? You are the coach here, so you must decide.
Do you know what also gets under my skin when watching sports? When an owner gets too involved with the on-court play. I get it. That’s your team, and you’ve invested a lot of time and energy in it. But, you hired a coach for a reason. Let your coach be the only ones calling plays and calling out the officials. You should sit quietly on the sidelines. Know your role: You are the support.
The idea is accurate when it comes to leaders. If you don’t trust your team members enough to let them do their thing, then why did you hire them?
While there are times when micromanagement may be necessary, it drives employees crazy. So, don’t be that boss. I know that may be a challenge for some. But, you can terminate this by:
- Hiring the right people.
- Clearly articulate goals and expectations.
- Give them the tools and resources they need to succeed.
- Create a culture of accountability.
- Have team put everything in their calendar so you and them know how they are spending their time.
- Let them work when and how they prefer … within guidelines.
- Allow them to a part of the decision-making process.
5. Poor working conditions.
Think about working conditions for a second. You just landed your dream job. But, on the first day of work, you’re assigned to an area that’s next to a common area. On top of the noise, you have an uncomfortable chair and outdated technology in a dimly lit area of the office. How productive do you think you’re going to be?
Take the working conditions and atmosphere into consideration when it comes to your team. Provide them with ergonomic furniture and effective workplace technology. Provide quiet areas when they want to get immersed in deep. And, make sure that there’s proper lighting. If possible, this should be natural light since it boosts productivity.
Other ways to create a more productive workplace? Invest in plants and let your team decorate their personal workspaces however they like.
Make sure that you don’t inadvertently tolerate a toxic work environment. A toxic environment means that you or any member of your team should not bully, harass, or belittle any other team members. Watch this problem because it can sneak in, and you should be aware.
6. Failing to embrace transparency.
Perhaps one of the most important responsibilities that you have as a leader is to unleash the full potential of your team members. And, a surefire way to achieve this is by embracing transparency.
Transparency creates a healthier work environment and encourages collaboration. The beauty of transparency also builds trust, reminding everyone what the big picture is and helps solve problems faster. Being open then establishes a flat hierarchy meaning that it’s more flexible and democratic.
7. Pointing out what they did wrong.
I’ve noticed a troubling trend among my peers, which is a tendency to focus on what an employee did wrong as opposed to acknowledging and appreciating what they did right.
Focusing on the positive doesn’t mean that you should ignore the mistakes that they’ve made. After all, that’s one of the best learning opportunities they’ll ever have. It’s just that you also need to recognize their hard work and make sure that you show your gratitude. You don’t have to put on a parade for them — and you can skip the fake awards — but let them know what they excelled at so that they can repeat that behavior.
8. Not prioritizing their well-being.
Like time management, you may assume that this has absolutely nothing to do with you. But, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Obviously, you don’t want to tell your employees how to live their lives, especially outside of work. But, in the workplace, you can assist them in prioritizing their health and wellness. For example, you could launch an employee wellness program and promote preventive care.
Additionally, you can offer healthy snacks, encourage more physical movement, hold an exercise competition each year, play an active game after lunch and help them curb unhealthy vices. You may also want to offer unlimited vacations.
When you’re team is healthy and happy, they’re going to be more loyal and productive.
9. Resisting change.
Finally, be receptive to change. Change may be uncomfortable for you, but nothing is more permanent than change. Embracing change is about the only way that you’ll stay ahead of the curve in business. Helping employees understand that change will always be there will make them better able to navigate the world.
Take the idea of flexible hours and remote work as an example. Up until several years ago, this concept was utterly taboo. Today, 57 percent of organizations offer flexible schedules, while there’s also been a 159 percent increase in remote work.
However you choose to model yourself as a leader and help your team get stuff done, keep up-to-date with the advice that’s out there. Keep yourself in check so that you don’t make it harder for your team to get their work done.