Thursday, August 13, 2009

6 tactics to improve the team's productivity

I came upon an on leadership and management from TechRepublic. In the article, leadership coach John M McKee provides tactics for leaders looking to ensure their team remains focused and positive. Here are excerpts. The article in full can be found here.

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
- Peter F. Drucker.

Keeping team members motivated and performing at the top of their game is especially difficult right now. It’s to the benefit of all concerned that you help them to keep working at full steam. Here are a few “best practices” we’ve seen used successfully by strong leaders:

1. Lead by example - You send messages to your team members with every action and statement. If you’re seen to be giving extra, it will inspire and energize others to do the same. The same holds true for the opposite: showing fear or frustration will only fuel similar results within the team.

2. Focus on communicating objectives rather than defining roles - With fewer human resources, we have to re-assess the key deliverables. Which of them make an immediate impact, and what can be postponed? Engage as many of the team as possible on the most important goals; even if that move takes them outside their old job definitions.

3. Sense of urgency - Keep goals, both individual and team, front and center to ensure focus. Broadcast and talk about results and achievements. You want each individual performing at optimal levels. Note that it's “optimal” and not “maximum”. The former is good management practice, the latter results in burnout and negativity.

4. Celebrate individual contributions - Sports teams are clear about the fact that certain players make a bigger difference, so they recognize those people appropriately. For high performers, hearing only about the “team’s performance” can actually demotivate and cause them to slow down to the “norm”.

5. Provide guidelines to reduce uncertainty - Trusting your team to do the right thing is well and good; but with uncertainties, team members can make improper decisions. Help them with frequent reviews of goals, new or successful past approaches, and preferred outcomes during regular team meetings.

6. Recognize that your emotions affect outcomes - Keeping one's cool in difficult periods serves to help the team maintain their balance and performance. People are de-motivated by constantly cranky or negative bosses. If you have a disappointment, or a major goal was missed, it’s fine and appropriate to say so; but don’t make it personal.

Being a leader is more than being a manager. It requires empathy, attitude, and skill. The effort is worth it.

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