When building a business from the ground up, your team is everything. They’re the people responsible for making your vision a reality. They’re the relationship managers who preserve your deals, the accountants who make sure your business remains profitable, and the producers who keep your products and services moving. More than that, your team becomes your family, and together, you all work toward one cumulative goal—success.
Obviously, you want your team to be as productive as possible, but you also don’t want to lose that tight-knit, family like dynamic that allows you all to function as a group. So rather than imposing strict rules or quotas on your team in an effort to increase productivity, try one or more of these smaller, more efficient methods:
First, get rid of the biggest time-suckers in any office—or at least cut them short. Meetings are rarely necessary, and they tie up thousands of hours of work time every year. When scheduling a meeting, it’s easy to group in everyone on the team and budget a loose hour for the discussion. At the time, it seems like no big deal, but if you have 10 members on your team, that’s 10 cumulative working hours you’re spending. Is 10 hours really necessary to go over that new policy or brainstorm about a new product? Chances are slim that this is the case. Substitute emails, memos, conference calls, and shorter meetings for these overlong behemoths, or cut them out completely (and be sure to only invite people who genuinely need to attend).
Allow Some Remote Work
Old-school entrepreneurs and businesspeople might shudder at the thought of working from home, but the early empirical evidence suggests that working from home actually makes workers more productive. They get more done because they have more flexibility to work how they want to work, fewer interruptions, and less stress because they don’t have to worry about personal responsibilities as much. If you’re still not buying the legitimacy of the strategy, roll it out in small doses and see how your workers adjust to the change.
Set Team Goals
You’re collectively working toward the same ultimate goal -working for a thriving business- so why shouldn’t your shorter-term and smaller goals also apply to the team? Setting goals as a team encourages everyone to work together, and helps individual team members hold each other accountable to reach those goals. Plus, when you achieve goals as a group, you get to celebrate and reward each other as a group.
Work With Individuals
The team mentality is important, but don’t lose sight of the individuals that make up that team. Everybody has different working preferences, different strengths, different weaknesses, and different perspectives, and it’s your job to help each of those individuals find their place on your team. That might mean setting individualized goals (in addition to team goals), accommodating special requests, sparking motivation on an individual level, or just showing more of a personal touch. The goal is to get each individual more involved in the company dynamics.
Learn (and Teach) to Delegate Effectively
Delegation is critical for a business’s success. Obviously, you can’t do everything yourself, but you also can’t forward your tasks randomly. As I’ve established, everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, so you’ll need to learn how to delegate your tasks effectively. Learn what your team members excel at and what weaknesses require compensation. Beyond that, teach your employees to delegate effectively as well, your team leaders will do well to organize their smaller teams into more efficient machines.
Encourage Breaks and Vacations
This one might seem counterintuitive, especially if you’re used to a culture that values never-ending work cycles, long nights, and weekend work. Unfortunately, that workaholic lifestyle doesn’t take you very far—you might get a short-term boost in productivity, but ultimately your workers will tire, dragging their productivity to a halt and leaving them with so much resentment that they end up leaving the company. Instead, encourage your workers to take breaks whenever they need one, and implement a flexible vacation policy.
Facilitate Team Bonding
Just as important as setting goals for the team, it’s necessary to give your team members the chance to bond with each other. Doing so helps establish the group mentality that you’ll thrive or flounder as a team, which will in turn give your team members more reason and more initiative to work hard and help each other out. You can facilitate team bonding in a number of different ways, from reducing the number of walls and obstructions in your office, to hosting team lunches as rewards for achieving goals, or even sponsoring recreational activities to get everyone working together.
These approaches are designed to capture the best of both worlds, allowing your team to be more productive without compromising the culture of your business. They won’t work for everyone, nor do you need all of them to be effective. Try them out and see which ones work best for your business and for your team.
Read more advice about building an efficient team at TechCo