By Kayla Matthews
Whether you’re leading a team now or aspire to do so soon, productivity is essential, but it’s not always at a consistently high level.
That’s why it’s smart to learn from other leaders about what they’ve done to keep teams working together for the best possible output. Here are some tips.
Keep Meeting Sizes Small
Meetings are inevitable. And if people are asked the things they dislike the most about them, they’ll probably say the gatherings drag on too long or include too many people. To make his teams as productive as possible when they meet, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos institutes a “two pizza rule.”
It doesn’t mean pizza is a part of every meeting, but that if two pizzas could not feed the entire team attending a meeting, it’s too big. Keep that philosophy in mind when determining whether it’s really necessary for so many individuals to come to a gathering you’re planning.
Resist Rigidly Sticking to a Chain of Command
At many companies, there’s an obvious and enforceable chain of command people must go through when distributing messages or attaining information. However, when he sent out a letter to employees that revealed his productivity tips, Elon Musk warned that such a hierarchy was not appropriate for Tesla employees.
He emphasized that communications should go through the shortest path possible to achieve the desired result.
Furthermore, Musk said managers who tried to make employees stick to the chain of command approach would soon have to look for work elsewhere because they’d not be appropriate for Tesla’s culture.
Make Your Office a Comfortable Place to Work
It’s difficult for people to feel productive if they have to tolerate uncomfortable chairs, too much chatter in the office or an atmosphere filled with tension, backstabbing among colleagues and other types of stress.
Although there’s merit in thinking about the way your employees do tasks, it’s also necessary to take a close look at the environment and determine if there are things you could do to make it better.
When Laszlo Bock was the head of People Operations (the equivalent of human resources) at Google, he advocated for giving people freedom at the workplace while providing real-time coaching and forgiving people’s failures as long as they learned from the experiences.
When people feel happy at work, they’re an average of 12 percent more productive. And it’s easy to see why employees are more likely to be in good moods while they work in teams if you’re not hovering over them like a helicopter boss.
Consider enhancing comfort by investing in non-traditional office furniture too. While he was at Google, Laszlo said he didn’t use a desk but loved how his workspace had a couch plus a chair that flexed to allow various angles for a person’s knees and hips.
Encourage Teams to Give Input on How to Make Things Better
Many business leaders can tell there’s something not quite right about their teams’ performance levels but can’t put their finger on precisely what’s going wrong. When that happens, it’s easy to get caught in a cycle of unproductivity and make everyone involved feel frustrated.
Sometimes, though, the trick to getting out of the rut involves urging the team members themselves to give their thoughts on what to do. Mary Barra — the CEO of General Motors and first female CEO of a major auto manufacturer — does that with the team members who have earned her trust.
People see Barra as a person who does things differently in almost every aspect of her work by breaking well-established business rules if doing so gets the results that keep the company moving forward.
People familiar with the company say one example is the way that Barra empowers team members to make cases for the things they think need to happen for improvements to occur. She can make efficient and difficult decisions on her own but knows people on her team have potentially useful ideas too.
Recognize the Individuality of Team Members
It’s easy to take the common approach of attempting to improve team productivity by using a single popular managerial style, for example.
However, it’s often preferable to take the time to learn about each of your team members and understand that they have different traits and may get more done by capitalizing on those specifics.
Ursula Burns, the former CEO of Xerox, is a big fan of mentoring and discusses how she had mentoring during her career at the company that began when she got hired as an intern. Burns says her mentors taught her the importance of relating to people and the perspectives they offer and not trying to intimidate individuals by managing them all in the same way.
Burns had also described the Xerox team as being like a big family and made efforts to form close relationships with employees.
When leading your teams, strive to get to know the things that make the individual members unique. When appropriate, let them work in ways that cater to their preferences.
Better Productivity Is Possible
Throughout your leadership career, you’ll consistently look for ways to help increase team productivity. By learning from the leaders mentioned above and following their tips, you could reach a productivity high point.
About the Author: Kayla Matthews writes about communication and workplace productivity on her blog, Productivity Theory. Her work has also appeared on Talent Culture, MakeUseOf, The Muse and Fast Company.