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How do you Increase Productivity in Teams?

The following outtake, focused on how to increase productivity in your team, is taken from a recent exclusive recording of an MMC Learning moments talk by Andrew Ramwell, part-time psychologist, a director, business coach and business consultant for Know and Do Limited.

In this extract, Andrews talk about how to go about increasing productivity in a team, through setting clear goals and finding ways to motivate individuals.

Watch the 8 minute video below for a fascinating insight in to how to combine the skillsets of your workforce and involve them in the decision making process to increase productivity.

So I’ve been asked to look at some questions and give you some of my thoughts and experiences from my day to day job as a business coach and consultant about what I’ve come across. So the first question is, how do you increase productivity in teams?

What is team productivity?

How do you increase productivity in teams?, seems like a very easy, relevant question to start with. However, I think one of the first things I’d do is say, how do we define the ‘team’ that we’re actually talking about?

This is important, because when people say, can you come in and work with my team?

I say, well, yes, but who’s involved in your team?

I get them to actually break it down, because most organisations have teams within teams.

“I think if we’re looking to increase productivity, we also have to define what productivity is.”

Obviously the other thing that’s important when we’re talking about increasing team productivity is knowing, what is ‘productivity’?

Is that in the short term, the median term, or is it something we expect to sustain over time? Because we can’t keep increasing productivity exponentially.

So I think if you start with a definition of what we think productivity is, where we think we’re at, we might be the most productive team going already.

You’ve got to start with the definitions. For me one of the best definitions I’ve ever come across for a team was in The Wisdom of Teams book; it described a team as a small number of people with complimentary skills who are committed to a common purpose with a clear set of performance outcomes and mutual accountability.

I think if I’m looking to increase productivity I can take any of those areas and start to think about them. I’m going to look at what skills do I have in the team already? Who’s involved in that team? Does the team know why they’re involved and what they’re aiming at?

How do we set performance goals in a team?

“If I’m looking at creating a clear set of performance goals, I would ask that team to write down on a sheet of paper what they believe that they’re aiming for. “

So I might ask them, what would success look or sound or feel like to them? The interesting thing is, if I’ve got 12 people in the team, some of them might know the general direction they’re heading in, but the vast majority of them will give me something that they are interested in and they will describe success very differently indeed. That sets up a problem for us if everybody is going off in a slightly different direction.

“The team needs to understand why I want them to do something. “

Have I explained things to them so that they’ve got that understanding? Make sure they know it’s not just about delivering an outcome for the boss because he’s asked you to do it or she’s asked you to do it, make sure you’re actually saying, actually, there’s been a change in the marketplace so our customers require us to operate differently. Maybe there’s also a challenge there or a question, in that we could actually ask the team, how do they think they can improve productivity?

It’s about finding a leadership style where if you ask that question, you are engaging people and you really do want to listen to their answers.

How do you measure the impact of productivity in a team and ensure you’re achieving your goals?

Then I’m going to look at how we measure productivity and how we then go about ensuring that we’ve actually achieved our goals and that we’ve got mutual accountability.

So there’d be a variety of different parameters that I’d look to bring into that. Google did a fantastic piece of work called Project Aristotle.

What they discovered within their teams is that it wasn’t gender, it wasn’t IQ, it wasn’t age ranges, that determined the success of teams; one of the number one elements involved in high performing teams was something that they termed psychological safety. Psychological safety was the opportunity for someone in a team to stop and just say, I’m not sure what’s going on, or, I’m a bit stuck, or, could we just go back over this?

“The problem sometimes is that teams are in such a rush to be more productive that they start stumbling because they’re not taking the time to stop and rest. “

It’s the same with say, an athlete. If an athlete wants to perform, they don’t just train all the time. They need to balance that training with resting as well, because it’s the rest which is going to give them the opportunity to train further and faster and increase their performance. As simple as it sounds, many times teams don’t have the correct measures in place for that.

So have a measure. If we introduce that measure to the team and we ask some questions about it, the team will have probably more experience than you as a manager about how to increase those opportunities for productivity.

How do you motivate a team to be more productive?

At some point we might offer people an incentive such as money, and that works to a certain extent. If you want to have a real good overview on that, look at work by Dan Pink. He’s got a great graphically facilitated video called, “Drive, what motivates us”, you’ll find it on YouTube, it’s about eight minutes long, and it explores the differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

So intrinsic is an internal motivator. We might be motivated to increase productivity because we take pride in our job. Some other people might go, pride? Listen up, pay me! If you want more productivity, pay me more!

“At a certain point, it doesn’t matter what we get paid, we want to go to bed, we want to take a day off. So money will only take us so far.”

I think it’s a case of, have you sat down and looked at what is dr