Building teams, reaching goals, and keeping the work and the motivation flowing aren’t easy. These are our proven tactics to boost productivity and efficiency in any workplace environment.
Team productivity and efficiency are no joke. With many Australian and New Zealand businesses embracing a hybrid model that’s part-time work from home, part-time in the office, we’re all looking for new strategies to keep the team together. Here at Salesforce, I coordinate with over 20 teams in four time zones to work toward a common goal. After years of study and practice, these are just a few of my favourite strategies for a steady workflow and team unity.
An attitude of gratitude goes a long way at the (virtual, or otherwise) office. I am often impressed by the efforts and ideas of the people I work with, and I don’t just keep that admiration to myself. Recognise your team members’ accomplishments either personally or publicly, and find out how each person likes to be recognised. Do they like gifts? An email to their manager? A more public shout out on a big team call? Customise their recognition to them.
This practice gets the wheel of appreciation turning on your team and beyond. Set a weekly calendar reminder for yourself to show gratitude to a teammate.
I always thought that being a leader meant being as perfect as possible. I got a huge wakeup call from my team earlier this year with feedback that my authenticity and vulnerability were really low. I realised that they were asking for me to be more human – to share my struggles and my failures. They wanted me to walk them through the hard steps I had to go through for a win, and they wanted to get to know me by sharing more of my personal life.
Perfectionism is scary, and it makes it hard for people to work with you. When I opened up, I created a safer environment for the team to feel more comfortable speaking up. And the more they spoke up, the more they shared new ideas, and the more innovative and productive they became. I love this quote from Forbes and I refer to it often:
The perfectionistic, never see ’em sweat, A-gamers cause disconnection in others. Being able to balance your competency with your vulnerability makes you human, and creates a safe place for others. It also encourages strategic risk-taking and innovation, which are critical to excellence.
To encourage your team to bring their whole selves to work, you have to create a space to speak to that whole person. Short reminders to breathe, get mindful, and focus are a great way to break up the work day and encourage perspective, calm, and creativity. In addition to encouraging wellness days and time off as needed, kick off a meeting with a couple of minutes of meditation. Start things off with a quick team “temperature check” red, yellow, or green – to gauge how they’re thinking, the struggles they may have, and their current stress levels.
Leaders should encourage their team to be their best selves. I’ve tried this exercise and it was very successful: Have each person write down personal wellness goals that are important to them. One of mine was to make a date night every Wednesday night; I also planned to make time for some stress-relieving exercise a few times a week. Encourage team members to write down what’s important to them to maintain their wellness. Make time for regular check-ins to help them keep those goals a priority and keep them on track. This is a great way to build accountability and team support while encouraging some really healthy habits.
Juggling multiple fast-moving projects spread over multiple people is the norm. So ask yourself: Does your team know where to go to find accurate, updated information on every project or initiative? It’s imperative to create (and maintain) a shared doc, website, spreadsheet, or something else with broad access and the right data. Help your team align to your North Star.
In addition, create playbooks for every role and every process. Detail and record what works (and what doesn’t) so that new members can hit the ground running. You can also share them with other teams so they can easily partner with you or absorb your best practices.
Give your team feedback regularly, and coach them by asking questions and not giving them the answers. When people reach conclusions by themselves, they learn. And when people are learning, they’re engaged and productive.
I’ve also had great success with peer coaching, as it’s a safe way for people to try on new skills and stretch projects. If someone has a skill that’s valuable to others – for example, they’re a wiz on an analytics platform – have them be the point person for the team and coach others with questions and team development. People learn a lot from watching or getting feedback from their peers, not just their managers.
In addition to knowing when to praise your team, you should be sure to keep your accolades specific. Not just, “nice job!”, but celebrate their specific wins. Did they forge a new relationship that made all the difference? Learn a new system or tool? Beat a deadline? Praise them well, and you will soon see the rippling results of that praise. Frequent positive feedback is associated with increased creativity among employees.
Don’t forget to recognise and celebrate your team’s failures and applaud their willingness to take a calculated risk. Failure is an opportunity to learn, grow, evolve, and become more productive long-term. Create an environment where it’s okay to take a big risk and fail. Focus on lessons learned and what to try next time. The rest of the team will learn from seeing something that didn’t work (and how that person came back from the setback).
Looking to connect your employees in the new working world? Read our Transformation Playbook and learn how to change mindsets and connect silos.