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Surprising ways to make your team more productive

May 27, 2011
by Amy Beth Miller, Communication Briefings

Is your team running at peak productivity? Probably not. Even if they are working hard, their best efforts can be ineffective. Simple changes can make a powerful difference in what they accomplish. Reap the rewards of these improvements:

  • Tell them what you want. You gave them job descriptions and assign work. Isn’t that enough? No. Guide staff in managing their workloads. Explain what their priorities should be and how much time you expect them to devote to different tasks.
  • Grant free time. Many organizations—including 3M and Google—have discovered that great ideas result from setting staff free for several hours each week to work on projects and ideas that aren’t part of their regular workloads.
  • Assign fewer projects. Within a year, your team will complete more projects if you limit the number they are working on at any time. With a dozen projects on their plates, team members can’t devote enough attention to each of them. A delay or problem with one ripples through all the others. Assign only three projects and they can manage the workflow effectively. As they complete one project, assign another.
  • Communicate more—or less. Think about the messages you deliver to your staff. Do you forward emails without providing any direction or context? Do you encourage questions from them? Do you bury them in too much information? Tailor your communications so that they don’t waste time figuring out what you want.

Increasing productivity doesn’t take a major overhaul in how you work. The Organized Executive’s Priority One shows you 260 simple ways to manage your time and your employees for maximum results.

Last month’s question

The warmer weather is already starting to take a toll on workers’ productivity. Last month we asked you to choose which description best matches your team’s mood right now. Twenty-four percent chose: “It’s obvious spring fever is setting in: Productivity is starting to dip.”

More than half said their team was “Same as usual: hard working, enthusiastic, cooperative.” But 18% chose: “Same as usual: low performance, resistant to change, bored.

Check the “Focus on” section of for ways to keep your team’s morale high.


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