10 Moves To Boost Your Productivity in 2021 (Part 2)
We continue the conversation we began in January with 5 ‘additional’ moves to Boost your Productivity. January’s moves were more personal and focused on you as a leader. This month we shift focus to your team.
Move 6 – Anticipate Breakdowns and Plan for Disruption
This may not be such a popular topic given the year that has passed, but consider how our lives have already changed and how we have adapted to work within the boundaries of COVID.
A ‘Breakdown’ by definition is a disruption or interruption to the anticipated flow of life. Bad traffic that prevents you arriving to a meeting on time, a sudden border restriction based on COVID or the cancellation of a planned vacation are good examples of breakdowns. They arise when things don’t go the way we think they should and when our expectations are not met.
Often, it’s not the breakdown itself that’s the issue, it’s our reaction.
If you find it hard to accept those times when things don’t go as they ‘should’ or if you experience a ‘lot’ of these so called ‘breakdowns’ there are a few ways to lessen their impact.
- Begin to notice your standards and expectations and how attached you are to the ‘way things should be’. If you identify as someone with very high standards, who is constantly upset when things don’t meet your standards, consider that it might be worthwhile looking at your standards – are they serving you and your state of mental health and wellbeing, or could it be time to reflect on and adjust them to meet the ‘era of disruption’ we seem to be in? What would it be to relax them and shift the energy you invest in ‘being upset or frustrated’ into exploring ‘what’s possible’ in a more helpful mood? The reason we encourage you to do this is to be more emotionally able to contend with disruptions and interruptions and to begin cultivating a ‘way of leading’ that exudes more acceptance and a capacity to ‘go with’ what’s happening.
- Follow diverse thought leaders. Anticipating is a function of being a different observer of the world and the future that’s emerging. You can’t anticipate if you’re focus is too ‘local’, so read widely, watch and listen to relevant thought leaders and make sure you step out of your own industry to identify the larger economic, geopolitical and technological shifts that will more likely shape your future world.
- Plan for disruption. Take some time with your team to deliberately identify what disruption may look like. Invite wild ideas, credible thought leaders and key stakeholders to the table to wrestle with possibilities ahead of time. You might even choose to ‘self-disrupt’ for the sake of creating a breakthrough in your own industry?
Move 7 – Mobilise Your Team With Requests, Offers and Commitments
When we use the word mobilise, we have a particular meaning. It means offering others (your team) the skills and capabilities they require to deliver and meet their commitments individually and collectively against your vision and shared strategy.
Mobilising is more than preaching, telling, directing and training. It involves you as the leader creating specific conditions where the skills you build within your team can be enacted with safety and confidence.
To get more from your team, try these three tips:
- Encourage your team to make powerful requests. This means skilling them to take the time to be 100% clear about any request they make to another person. Taking 10-15 minutes to consider what they want, who they’ll be asking, by when, how they can help the other achieve shared understanding and what specific conditions and standards might need to be mentioned. This will give your team members a HUGE advantage in the early stage of workflow.
- Encourage team members to make offers. Making offers is one of the fastest ways to build relationships and enhance personal and team identity. Encourage your team to listen and observe moments where another team member may need support, help or cooperation to achieve a goal, and to step up and help. The morning meeting (or huddle) is a great space to encourage all team members to make both offers and requests for the sake of shared outcomes.
- Secure reliable commitments. The practice of securing a reliable commitment tends to prevent ‘downstream’ problems, like failure to deliver – also known as poor accountability. Securing a reliable commitment requires you to make sure your request or offer is clear, gain shared agreement between the involved team members and confirm that there is shared understanding. Doing this well will prevent a whole lot of downstream accountability pain, as well as trust and relationship drama.
Move 8 – Create a Productive Environment
Your environment and space says so much about you and your team.
Is it neat, orderly and organised, or crowded, messy and in need of a good clean? Begin to consider the things in a workspace (even if that is home for now) that give you a sense of zen, ease, lightness and joy and get your space organised so that you can bring these feelings into your super productive 2021.
We suggest you start with these three tips:
- Green it up. The benefits of having plants in your workspace are emotional, biological and physical. They have been shown to reduce stress, enhance staff wellbeing, reduce noise levels, heighten creativity and of course, clean the air. The mindful act of tending to plants can be in itself, a meditative process.
- Clean it up. Introduce some rituals that you can have the team commit to that creates their space as ‘clean’. This might be a 15-minute pack up at the end of each day that involves disposing of or recycling unwanted material and filing. It can save an hour at the end of the working week. Consider going ‘digital’ and asking staff to migrate anything that was ‘hardcopy’ into the appropriate digital context, so your office is not clogged with old papers that no longer serve as useful.
- Light it up. Good lighting creates great working conditions, positively influencing satisfaction and efficiency. Both daylight and artificial light play a key role in your health and wellbeing. One study shows that productivity can increase by up to 36 per cent in companies with a high standard of interior design. Is it time for you to look into light, space and environment?
Move 9 – Track Your Progress and Celebrate Success
It helps to have a sense of precisely what you’ve been able to achieve and whether you’re on track. With many moving parts to businesses these days, tracking and monitoring workflow can be powerfully supported by technology – we use Monday.com. There are others like Asana and Trello that offer similar benefits.
Be mindful that the culture you’re creating has an influence over tracking. Ideally, you’re working in a high trust culture, where each team member has a mindset and mood of willingly sharing progress and the skills to be able to make and manage their commitments and the accountability of others. Also consider that the kinds of forums you establish to review workflow need to be constructive and based on empowering and enabling, not blame shifting and isolating.
Finally, when checking off achievements it’s important to identify successes and wins, so make sure you acknowledge and celebrate team successes – this boosts mood and morale.
Try these tips to drive your productivity:
- Clarify why you use your tracking tools/strategy. It is important to share with your team why you’ve chosen your specific workflow tracking process and what it offers them and you in the pursuit of efficiency and effectiveness. It’s not about adding a burden or catching anyone out. They’re designed to help everyone have a fast and visual sense of progress, to rectify any progress blockages/concerns and offer support for teams and team members if required.
- Meetings and mood. When you meet to review workflow, make sure the mood is right. As a leader, this includes the moods of acceptance, ambition and curiosity. These moods will keep you open to what’s shared and stay in a mindset that’s helpful to identify how you can overcome and work through impediments to progress.
- Distribute ownership. Make sure that different parts of your workflow are owned, tracked and monitored by different team members. This means that they take the lead in sharing and communicating the status of their workflow and build the skills of leading as they’re coached through what it is to ‘own’ outcomes and results. This has the added benefit of not having one team member ‘drive and own’ the share back at meetings, which fosters collaboration as you build team practices.
Move 10 – Prize Feedback and Encourage a Culture of Constructive Feedback
When we take a look at the cultures of the most agile and successful companies in the world, we see that ‘feedback’ is a prized experience. It is not criticism or judgement. Instead, it places the ‘shared agenda’ of the team or organisation at the heart of the conversation and invites commentary from others about contributions to workflow that can enhance and/or improve the collective outcome.
In our world we say feedback is a gift.
That said, not everyone subscribes to this, and feedback delivered poorly can seem like anything other than a gift. Skills, mood and mindset play a key role in both offering and receiving feedback – and you can cultivate this within your team.
Consider these tips:
- It’s not a criticism. Too often team members are ‘set up’ to listen to feedback as a criticism. That’s not just about the delivery, but instead has lots to do with the ‘listening’ of the other person, and their automatic ways of interpreting what’s being said. As a leader, try setting the scene to free ‘listeners’ from confusing feedback with criticism and start your feedback by declaring what the intent is – and what it is not.
- Make it a habit. Try including feedback in the course of certain meetings. Imagine an agenda item that’s called ‘share your view’ and asking each team member to come along ready to ‘share feedback’ for the sake of the team goal – not making it personal, but with a genuine perspective on what’s working well and what needs improvement.
- Include your customers. Taking the time to genuinely engage your customers to gather their thoughts and reflections on your service and/or product is a powerful way to not only stay relevant in your market, but to continuously improve, build trust and relationships.
As we promised, these ‘additional 5’ moves can powerfully enhance your productivity and help you to create conditions for your teams to communicate, coordinate and thrive in the environments you operate within.
It’s still early in the year, what will you begin with today?
Read Part 1 of 10 Moves to Boost your Productivity in 2021 – CLICK HERE