Internal Communication

7 Habits of Highly Productive Teams

In the process of consolidating the team, it’s usual that the team creates and adopts some habits. These practices will eventually become a part of your company culture, so you better get involved right from the start. Some of the habits will come on their own, like having the joint coffee break at 11 AM, and others can be instrumented and initiated by an authority (meaning you, as the company owner).

Since we all want to have a team that is hard working and diligent to the company benefit, let’s analyze what habits a productive team should have.

1. Open communication

The first thing a person should adopt as a habit is to communicate openly with her associates and superiors. A free dialog doesn’t mean that she should be rude or unpleasant, it means that a person should be able to express ideas, proposals, suggestions of improvements, concerns, and problems that she is having.

Open communication also includes honesty. So, make sure to encourage your team to share opinion and to give feedback. In this way, you will always know how they are feeling and is there something that you can improve in the way your team works.

Here’s what you can do to make sure that the conversation is flowing freely:

  1. Allow informal meetings during working hours. Occasional half-hour coffee break will not make a difference in the total productivity score, but it will make a huge improvement in the personal relationship between your team members.
  2. Create an online hub where everyone can speak her mind. When we were talking about tools that can make your team more productive, we have recommended an internal company blog for sharing all sorts of news and getting feedback. We still have the same opinion.
  3. Plan some team activities where people can hang out after working hours. You can organize a team building weekend, or simply invite everyone to after-hours drink, it’s up to you. Just make sure that everyone can gather in a non-office environment and do non-work related things.
Open communication means the team can freely express and share ideas, proposals, suggestions of improvements, concerns and problems.

Don’t forget, open communication is a two-way street, so make sure that you’re a part of it too!

2. Clear responsibilities and joint activities

Everyone in the team should have a particular role that comes with certain responsibilities. It’s okay that two team members have some overlapping tasks, but they should know who is in charge for which part of the job.

Highly effective teams can make such an arrangement on their own, while others need some help from the team leader. Both cases are equally useful because they are enabling the team to be organized.

The team where everyone knows what they should do doesn’t look like a bunch of people who are staring only at their monitors without speaking or working with one another.

On the contrary, such a team collaborates all the time, and team members supplement each other. With joint working activities, the team is completing tasks faster and gets the job done.

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3. Setting result oriented goals

Setting a goal is easy, but setting a result-oriented goal is completely different story. For example, a goal is to “Have more happy customers,” and a result-oriented goal is “Make 10 customers happy this week”. The difference is enormous. While the first one sounds like a distant wish and reveals no genuine intentions of accomplishing the goal in some reasonable time; the second tells precisely what should be done and when.

Highly productive teams are working mostly on result-oriented goals. It is one of the best ways to measure their productivity and success. But, to be able to define such a goal, the team needs to know company’s long-term plans and strategies. Which brings us back to open communication, so don’t ever forget that you need to be a part of it, as well.

4. Sharing knowledge, accomplishments, and failures

Sharing is an excellent method for bringing people closer and spreading individual experience across the team. Therefore, encourage your crew to share their knowledge, small handy tricks that can help others to complete the job faster, and shortcuts in normal process that they discovered. An internal blog can be a great place for such a thing.

Also, don’t be shy to share team or individual accomplishments. Some tapping on a shoulder and congrats are always a good motivator to do an even better job next time. On the other hand, when things don’t work out as planned is a part of the job, as well, so don’t hide it. Tell the team when you fail, help them do the same. There is much more to learn from such cases, than the ones when everything turns out great.

5. Flexibility

Productive teams are flexible, and they can adjust to a new situation very quickly. This trait is especially important in the time of crisis and unexpected events. It shows how capable the team is and how quickly they can adapt to new surroundings.

Besides these extreme cases, flexibility is necessary when one of the team members gets sick, when the task list is changing, or when a major client jumps in (or cancel), and in many other scenarios. The important thing is that your team can modify and accommodate to new conditions. Results of the adjustment will show you how mature, productive and flexible the team is.

6. Have some fun

A famous proverb says: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” We will rephrase it and say that all work and no play makes the office a dull place. And kills the good atmosphere in the team. So, let people have some fun.

If you wish to have a foosball, darts or gaming consoles in the office, that’s fine, but keep in mind that they are not necessary for a team to have fun.

People can always have a small break and tell jokes to each other or start a witty chat on a public Slack channel. Just let them do it. If you want to join, make sure you’re not imposing, and don’t be the one who interrupts it and sends everyone back to their workplace. It will last for a few moments, anyway.

In case such sessions turn into a riot, you will know what to do. But, if you made a good choice when you were hiring it will probably not go that far.

7. Take a rest from the job

It may sound unusual, but to be able to be productive a person should not be on the job all the time. Quite the contrary. To be able to perform she needs to have a quality rest and do something different.

It's crucial to your team members to get rest from office and you, to be able to give their best tomorrow, as they did today. Here's how you can help them have a quality time off:

  • Have 40 hour work week. There will be some cases when you all need to work extra hours, but don’t allow it to be each day of the week.
  • Don’t bother people when they are not in the office. After hours emails, or even worse the phone calls, are not something that people enjoy. It causes nothing but stress, no matter how innocent your request is. The only case when it is allowed to make such calls is if you want to invite someone who is missing for a team drink.
  • Let people use their vacation time to take some time off. Meaning, no disruptions, calls and work related emails. Not even office news, jokes, and pranks. Just leave them alone for a short while.

As you can see, all that you need to do is let things happen, or initiate them in some cases. People will recognize what’s right for them and embrace it. Productivity is definitely something that makes us all quite thrilled, so rest assured that your team will welcome habits that will put a smile on their face every day.

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