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Two easy tricks to boost your team productivity – with Carl Pullein

What’s team productivity and how can you improve it? Carl Pullen, a productivity expert and coach shared two tricks you can implement today.

What is team productivity?

Productivity means something different for every industry, company, and department. A common misconception tied to it is the idea that it means being busy, running around with a long to-do list and pushing deadlines. In fact, it’s the opposite. When a team (or an individual) is truly productive, work runs smoother, with less stress and staying on schedule is a child’s play.

Productivity is not the same as profitability. However, any boss worth their title will be focusing on the efficiency of the work in question. So, when we’re talking about productivity, we are in fact discussing how much quality work your team can produce within an acceptable time frame. 

A picture two people closing deals.
Productivity is not the same as profitability, but they are still closely related.

To tackle the issue of productivity, we invited an expert on the topic to provide some valuable input. We had a chat with Carl Pullein, a productivity expert, an author and a coach with an awesome blog, full of practical tips.

Check out the full interview!

Most common symptoms of low team productivity 

How can you be sure your team is struggling with productivity? You might already suspect you’re having issues with it, so let’s see if your team if exhibiting any of the symptoms below:

  • Delayed projects and missed deadlines. The one red flag companies usually notice is failed projects, missed deadlines and an inability to meet the norm. If your team is regularly moving deadlines, it could mean two things: the deadlines were too optimistic to begin with or something is standing in the way of their productivity.
  • Too many status meetings. A productivity expert, Carl Pullein claims that “you can tell there’s a problem by the number of meetings about a particular project. If there are a lot of meetings, the outcome hasn’t been expressed clearly enough. As a result, the team is not sure of what they are supposed to be doing, because they are always having meetings, to clarify.”
Group of people stressing over meetings.
A lot of meetings and no clarifications = a lot of questions.
  • Ineffective meetings. Even if the number of meetings is not too excessive, their quality is of equal importance. Low-productive teams often keep ineffective meeting where people are bored and unenthusiastic and where one or two people are the ones doing all the talking.. As a result, it’s difficult to reach a decision the entire team believes in.
  • Lack of speed. Have you noticed that even the smallest tasks take a long time to be completed. If despite the general feeling of everyone “being busy”, certain matters take ages, you should find the culprit for this clog. 
  • Lack of disagreement or too many conflicts. Communication is the key to team success and a rise in the number of conflicts points at inefficient and broken communication. But even the opposite is true – people need to disagree sometimes, and if your environment is consistently conflict free, it might mean there’s no communication happening between people. 

Other signs your team might be heading downhill!

What can you do today to boost productivity in your team?

If you’ve found yourself and your team facing these symptoms, it’s time to grab the proverbial bull by its horns and take action. After all, the cost of leaving it untreated will inevitably affect your business as a whole. 

Despite the fact that there are numerous tips on boosting your team’s productivity, we’ve focused mostly on two very strong, practical changes you can implement today to see a productivity boost almost immediately:

1. Communicate goals 

We’ve written about the importance of goals in our blog, and it’s just proof that outlining the objective for your team is incredibly important.

Post it with a question.
Set the right goal!

“Most of the problems I’ve come across are connected to the way they are communicating the outcome. I am all about the outcome. The biggest problem I find is, leaders and senior managers are not communicating the outcomes clearly enough.” – Carl Pullein

If the team keeps the goal in mind, it’s much harder for them to stray and slow down the process. There are numerous tricks for getting the goal across and making sure it’s not forgotten:

  • Make your goals visible at all times. Use the walls, a whiteboard, a poster …
  • Use different types of communication. Not everyone is the visual type. Repeat the goals in meetings, send it in an email, mention it in face-to-face meetings.

“We have many types of people in a team. We got visual learners, we got auditory learners, we got kinetic learners and they all need this message communicated in a slightly different way. The manager or the leader generally communicates in his preferred style. Some get it, some don’t, some need clarifications and they are too shy to ask for clarification. They don’t want to look stupid.” Carl Pullein

  • Track team goals in real-time. Use roadmaps and publish them or give access to your teammates. Share the progress!
  • Break the goal into smaller chunks. Make it easy to digest and break it up in weekly plans and goals.

A good practice we have in our LOOP office is setting and sharing weekly goals every Monday – The team leads send out an email with bullet points that sum up the key goals we are aiming to achieve by Friday. They then checks on the progress mid-week, sync with the team about what’s finished and what is left, rewards the team with some positive feedback or gives additional advice if needed. 

Find more teamwork hacks (24 to be exact) HERE!

2. Optimize meetings

Meetings are a time hog, no doubt about it. We’d all be happier if we could just delete them from our calendars, but some are still very necessary. For greater team productivity, Carl Pullein advises to limit meetings to 30 minutes max: 

“A fundamental change happens, when you change it to 30 min maximum. Firstly, there is no small talk. Secondly, people are no longer being late. If it’s an hour long meeting, people think, nah, it is not gonna matter if I am 5 minutes late. It’s different when you limit it to 30 minutes.”

A stop watch.
30 minutes meetings time frame!

Another trick that will increase your team productivity around meetings is a clear agenda. When you tell people what they can expect in a meeting, they come better prepared and the meeting can begin without unnecessary delays!

“My rule is: whoever calls the meeting, has to send an agenda 48 hours before the meeting. Because that forces them to think about what they want to accomplish in the meeting.”  Carl Pullein

“How will I know it’s working?” 

We hope by now you’re convinced that these two small changes can fit into your team. Very soon, your team could be exhibiting these positive changes:

  • Holding fewer meetings and saving lots of time. 
  • Finishing meetings early. 
  • All staff members on the same page about goals. 
  • A quieter, more peaceful environment, because people are actually focused on work.
  • Meeting deadlines and finishing projects – sometimes even days before the deadline.
A group of happy working people.
Motivated team makes achieving goals easier.

Ready to give it a try? Let us know how it goes and follow our podcast for more useful information about business, communication and teamwork!

Boost your company’s productivity with the help of a communication tool made especially for teams. Meet your new team inbox – give Loop Email a try. 

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Jernej Pavlič

Jernej Pavlič

Jernej Pavlič is the Head of Growth @Loop Email and helps you get things done with your team.

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