Five Simple Ways to Make Your Team More Productive
Organizing yourself often creates frustration when a new discovery dawns: everyone else is disorganized. Your boss misses deadlines. Your spouse forgets appointments. Team members drop easy assignments and interrupt you constantly. The more organized you become, the more painfully you feel other people’s disorder.
Team productivity has a greater impact on an organization than personal productivity. Your ability to reach goals has more to do with your team than you. Ideally, everyone would be trained and organized with the same, effective system, but sometimes you can’t affect that change. Fortunately, there are simple ways you can encourage your team to be more productive.
First, insist that every member of your team use an inbox. Inboxes greatly reduce interruptions and ensure that important assignments all go to one place. When team members know team assignments are sitting in that inbox–and only in that inbox–they will be much more focused on completing work for the team.
Inboxes also reduce the chance of assignments getting lost. All too often, the transfer of responsibility goes something like this: “Did you get the report I left on your chair?” or “Did you get the brief; I gave the brief to Joan to give to you?” Your team needs clear channels for handing off tasks. Checking one inbox is infinitely easier than checking your office and everyone else’s. The Law of Collection Points (from the TRO training) holds true for teams as well as individuals: “The more collection points you have, the worse things get.” Everyone needs one inbox.
Second, ask that every member of your team use one calendar for work. This does not mean that everybody uses the same calendar program; each person just needs to record appointments in a calendar. The calendar reminds them of their commitments, helping them show up on time and prepared. If you are particularly daring, you could also encourage your team to use the calendar as time-budget for personal work.
Third, train your people to collect team assignments. Ask each person show up to meetings with pen and paper–or a laptop if that is acceptable in your company. Ask them to write down details of every assignment they accept. At the end of the meeting, have the person taking meeting notes recap everyone’s assignments. Before you adjourn, ask everyone if they have their assignments. If everyone leaves the meeting with personal notes on assignments they need to complete it greatly increases the chances of them completing these assignments before the next meeting.
Fourth, follow up on tasks others agreed to do for you. When they know you will always follow up, they will get much better at completing assignments. Accountability is one of the most important aspects of delegation or teamwork. Team members are accountable to each other for work they promised to do, regardless of rank.
TRO trainees recognize these suggestions. They are the same basic principles of time and task management that guide the TRO system. Even if other people are not TRO trained, they can still learn and follow basic time management principles when interacting with the team.
Finally, be a team player yourself. The purpose of encouraging team time management is to build a more productive and cohesive team. Employ patience and a positive attitude while pushing for change. You are not trying to make everyone share the same neurotic tendencies. Productivity and consistency are not neuroses; they help the team to achieve its goals. Be kind, and focus on the shared vision behind the practices. If you are gentle, patient, and persistent, your team will gradually adopt better practices.