7 Ways to Improve Team Productivity During Uncertain Times

Team Productivity

Economic uncertainty can play tricks on the mind, often causing demotivation and reducing team productivity. As a manager there’s not much you can do to alter the macroeconomic situation. However, you can re-invigorate the efforts of your team with a few simple steps. 

Creating a good and positive team ethic will help you and your team to stay motivated, especially if you are receiving pressure from your own manager. It can be tough to manage pressure, but a high-performing, productive team will help you succeed.

1. Set clear and realistic goals to improve team productivity

Team goal setting is often overlooked, especially in small businesses where you have to do a lot with very little time and resource. We are more likely to set individual goals than team goals, but people do need a sense of direction as a lack thereof can quickly lead to job dissatisfaction and reduced productivity. Also, make sure team goals relate to individual goals. 

Even if it’s not realistic to aim for growth at this time. It can be as simple as adding additional value to existing clients so that you can build stronger relationships and customer loyalty. 

2. Have a shared purpose and team vision

Linking to the point above, each team within an organisation has a specific purpose, some deliver a service to internal colleagues and others to external clients. Knowing where you fit into the bigger picture and how your efforts are making a difference is vital for creating a strong and productive team. 

We all need a purpose and a reason to get up in the morning, especially during a time when so many of us are working from home. Even if you’re not in the business of creating world peace or saving the universe that’s absolutely fine, you can still instil a sense of purpose. For e.g. a marketing and sales team is there to deliver growth and stability, providing more opportunities for other colleagues in the business.

Remind your team of their purpose within the organisation and how it relates to the overall service or product the business provides.

Don’t take it for granted that teams should know this already, sometimes it’s just a matter of putting things into perspective and saying it out loud.

3. Treat everyone equally

To me, there really is nothing worse than favouritism within a team. It breeds resentment and creates an atmosphere where the rest of the team feels, no matter what their contribution there really is no point as a certain person will get the best tasks to do anyway. 

Be 100% honest with yourself, is there someone in your team that you’re spending more time with or have a special connection with for whatever reason? If so, stop doing this immediately. Be mindful to treat your team equally even if you naturally gravitate to certain people.

It’s important to remember that each team member has value to add. Appreciate them for their personality traits, even if they are quiet and shy or always pointing out what can go wrong. A Negative Nelly can save your bacon by looking at a problem from a different angle, so manage the behaviour and use it to your advantage.

4. Spend time talking about emotional wellness

Normally when I have one-to-ones with my team the first thing I’ll talk about is their emotional state. To do this, you need to establish a relationship of trust, where team members can feel comfortable sharing their highs and lows with you. This does take time so be patient. 

You’re not a therapist, but talking through a person’s struggles can help them be more productive and move forward more quickly. It also allows you to be mindful of struggles that might be going on outside of work.

I find it quite satisfying to see my team members grow and develop, it’s my way of adding value to the people I work with as well as the businesses I work in. Making a difference to someone costs nothing, but it builds loyalty and productivity. 

In most cases taking through scenarios is as simple as helping someone to look at an issue from another perspective and using your experience to give them the tools to succeed. 

5. Turn failure into a learning opportunity

Creating an environment where team members are scared of making mistakes is very toxic and debilitating especially in uncertain economic times, as people are scared of losing their livelihoods even more so than on an average day. It is a given, we’re human and we’ll make mistakes. But it’s not about the mistakes we make, it’s how we rise from them and turn them into an opportunity to grow that matters. Our imperfections really do make us perfect in our own way.

As a manager, you should be prepared for the eventuality of mistakes by putting the right safeguards in place. However, know that with even the best planning and safeguarding in the world, mistakes will creep in. It’s how you help your team to deal with these that will facilitate productivity even in times of failure.

6. Treat team members like adults

Accept that your team is made up of adults, and treat them as such. Micro-managing, meddling and being overly controlling is very counterproductive and massively demotivating. 

Give team members the space to succeed, but be there to coach and support their actions. There is more than one way to approach a task or problem, your way is not always the perfect option so allow team members to bring their unique talents to the table and hold them accountable for reaching and achievable goals. 

7. Manage disruptive behaviour

At times you will have team members who even with the best intentions will disrupt everyone else no matter what the climate or season.

Unfortunately, we’ve all experienced this in some shape or form. It’s important to stop disruptive behaviour as soon as you notice it. It might not be apparent at first as disruptive and manipulative people will often change their behaviour when you are in the room.

If you’ve built a relationship of trust your team will give you hints, this is your opportunity to listen and take action swiftly. Involve HR if you have to, but don’t tolerate negative and disruptive behaviour as it will have negative effects on everyone else over the long run.

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