As a manager, one of your top priorities every day is to make sure your team stays on the right track. Your responsibility is to assign tasks and projects and guide the work toward a set deadline. If a detour is necessary, you’re expected to be the guide.
With so many daily responsibilities, unexpected distractions, and the unpredictability of human nature, teams can easily get derailed and lose productivity. Teams need the right mindset paired with proper tools to ensure each day is a productive one from start to finish.
You need to keep your team members on track no matter what obstacles they face. Try a combination of these suggestions to help out even the trickiest of teams:
1. Leverage Productivity Software
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of apps and tools you can use to help keep your team on task and heading in the right direction. Many can be used for free as well. So you’re only harming yourself if you don’t take advantage of at least a few of them.
For example, time management is made easier using scheduling tools like Appointment. When time usage is a major concern, programs like this help to keep schedules structured around deadlines and milestones. Other tools like online calendars and time trackers enable employees to be more productive instead of watching the clock.
Another popular brand of productivity tool is project management software. With a program like ClickUp or Asana, you can assign tasks to different team members. You can also designate roles and break a project into progressive steps. Add in a communication tool like Slack, and you’ll have everything you need to streamline team operations.
2. Manage Your Meetings Better
Meetings can be a double-edged sword. Well-executed meetings provide needed direction and instruction for your team to improve and excel. However, poorly planned meetings can stop productivity in its tracks and do little to help your team move forward.
For starters, consider how often you should hold meetings. Meetings that are held too frequently become redundant and end up wasting time. Meetings that are held too far apart can become long and drawn out.
Every meeting should have a purpose. Do you need a weekly team meet-up to divide assignments and check on individual progress? That’s fine, but keep them concise. No one wants to sit in an hour-long meeting every week if the goal could be accomplished in a 15-minute team huddle.
3. Encourage and Empower
Let’s face it. Eight-hour workdays are long. It’s hard for just about anyone to maintain optimal productivity for that period of time. Fatigue, boredom, and frustration can easily derail productivity and get your team off course.
As a leader, part of your responsibility is to encourage your team to overcome these challenges. One way to accomplish this is by offering incentives. An alluring reward can help a team finish a project by the end of the workday with more vigor. Celebrating successes can increase job gratification and fulfillment and encourage team members to stay on track with their goals.
Another aspect of leadership is team empowerment. Put your team in a position to succeed. Provide flexibility so work-life balance isn’t a concern and provide the proper tools for the work environment. You can also make resources available for physical, mental, and academic needs.
4. Take a Break
Many managers focus on how to get their team to work as hard as possible around the clock. You might find more success by taking an alternate route. While hard work is an admirable virtue, it can lead to faster burnout and decreased motivation.
Instead, start by planning out your team’s breaks. Sufficient time for rest allows team members to regroup and recharge before jumping back into a project. Proper breaks improve critical thinking, which leads to greater efficiency. Providing adequate breaks also helps increase endurance over the course of a long shift.
It goes without saying, but just to be sure, don’t let breaks get out of hand. Break time is meant to reduce burnout, not burn out the clock by avoiding work altogether.
5. Examine Your Management Practices
We know you mean well, but keep an eye on your management techniques. While you might think you’re being helpful, you could be part of the reason that your team is getting off track.
Micromanagement is perhaps the greatest example of how one management technique can throw an entire team off course. A leader might have the perfect plan in mind and wants to lead their team every step of the way. However, excessive hand-holding is often frustrating for team members. The frustration that builds from being micromanaged constantly can lead to resentment and deliberately going off-script.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, having a too complacent leadership style can be just as debilitating. You can’t just hole yourself up in your office and hope your team gets a project done with no direction. Sometimes a leader needs to be there to shift a team into gear and get them motivated again.
Don’t expect your team to become a productivity powerhouse overnight. Aim for incremental progress and guide your team in the right direction. Keep an eye on those key performance indicators, as they will show you whther your efforts are paying off.