There are several ways we can judge whether a team is efficient, productive, and effective. Obviously, measuring KPIs, OKRs, and other objectives is a simple way to understand if your team is meeting targets. Another is to measure employee engagement to determine how team members feel about their role, their place in the team, and how they fit in at the company.
Various factors dictate whether a team will be effective and it is near impossible to list them all. Some of the most important, however, are employee satisfaction, adequate training, cross-training opportunities, collaboration, as well as team and work atmosphere (is it a safe and positive environment).
Each of these factors will significantly influence how everyone within your team performs and how well they can operate as a cohesive unit. We have put together some tips to help you improve how efficient and effective they can be.
Listening is one of the most basic skills we need to be effective and efficient in our day-to-day work and personal lives, yet we often pay little heed or give little credence to just how vital of a skill it is. A team that listens and takes on information is better able to process it and turn those ideas, thoughts, and opinions into actions. Each member needs to actively listen and remain engaged to minimize misunderstandings as possible to become more efficient and high-performing.
The time saved will be noticeable as there will be less confusion and less need to review and go over topics and discussion points already covered in-depth. Not only will this save significant time and energy, but meetings, discussions, and updates will run smoother without the same degree of frustration from building up; people won’t need to repeat themselves or feel like they may as well be talking to the wall. Improved listening will thus help to both build efficiency and team spirit.
Now we move from listening to speaking and communicating. Clear communication improves effectiveness. Without clear communication, team members may not understand assigned tasks which can cause extra work and frustration. Opening the lines of communication will boost transparency and honesty within a team, ensure everyone is on the same page, and minimize misunderstandings.
Teams that communicate well will spend less time explaining projects, plans, and ideas and more time putting together their collective ideas to work together. They will also be able to handle disagreements better and find solutions and compromises more efficiently and positively. By communicating early and often, you will more likely receive additional valuable input from other sources that may come in the form of innovative solutions or thoughts concerning potential blockers and road bumps.
If you want to build a more efficient team, then you as a leader need to set a strong example that everyone can easily follow. An effective way to do this is by running efficient and effective meetings when everyone is gathered together. We have all sat in poorly planned meetings that seem to drag on for ages or were forced to sit through meetings that could well have been emails or Slack/Teams updates.
Setting agendas, inviting all necessary participants, and cutting all unnecessary fat from meetings is a great starting point. But consider putting in place policies that will improve the flow of meetings to keep it relevant for all parties. An example could be a ‘Let’s take this afterward policy’ where issues raised that only pertain to a small group need to be covered in a separate chat afterward. This small step will help to reduce time and to help keep everyone engaged and concentrated throughout meetings. Leading by example is a great way to improve efficiency.
You need to carefully examine how you and your team currently operate in order to find areas of inefficiency and ways that you can improve. Every team operates differently and adopts a framework and ways of working that may be both formal and informal. You can look to reduce inefficiencies and create a more streamlined process for all by challenging these practiced norms.
An example of this can be reducing the amount of administrative work by introducing automated processes, running more time-sensitive meetings (as we have mentioned above), streamlining processes, eliminating unnecessary workarounds, and granting autonomy where necessary.
Learning how to reflect on past projects and accomplishments is a great way to learn and grow to become a more efficient team. One way to do this is to hold a Retrospective, where you take the time to look back and assess a finished project. A Retrospective doesn’t require a huge time commitment but the potential benefits make it a worthwhile staple of any project.
Identifying inefficiencies and highlighting positive behaviors are just some of the information you can garner from a project retrospective. This will allow you to gain more insights into how your team performs, what difficulties they are facing, and what you can do to help.
The most efficient teams work towards a common clear goal together; we mentioned the value of KPIs and OKRs earlier. Create and share relevant goals with everyone, so they all understand the goals and targets expected of them. In turn, this will also make planning tasks and projects a lot easier, allowing you to focus more on working, rather than planning.
These goals need to be well-defined and clearly outlined for team members to plan their work and process with the goals in mind. Running retrospectives will help you to refine this process and with time you will know how to set realistic goals that will boost morale and prove your team’s value.
Each of us will excel in certain aspects of our work, while we will struggle with others. It is tough to be a jack of all trades, and teams will likewise naturally outperform expectations in certain areas and regularly fall short in others. As a leader recognizing this and playing to your team’s strengths holds two inherent benefits.
No one likes to struggle or be bogged down by tasks at which they underperform. Happy employees have the opportunity to do what they enjoy. Engagement is closely related to efficiency and effectiveness and the best way to improve engagement is by making work as enjoyable as possible.
By working to their collective strengths you will consistently perform to the best ability of the team while maintaining high morale. Mitigating against these weaknesses will help to make the most out of their abilities. A strong and efficient team is only as good as its weakest member, so helping to lift that person up will improve a team’s overall performance.
Speaking of engagement levels. Employee engagement is closely tied to job performance, overall job satisfaction, and a wide variety of other HR-related metrics. Engaged employees are proven to be more motivated, productive, and thereby efficient. As a team lead or manager, regularly checking in with team members and establishing an open and safe space to have frank discussions is the best way to ensure engagement levels remain high.
It is also a good way to monitor potential issues and not be caught off-guard by some company-wide survey. Those managers that keep in close and regular contact with their teams can work to improve engagement levels and come up with hypotheses and theories as to why they may dip and how to prevent or, at the very least, mitigate it.
Moving on from the idea of building and improving engagement levels, we should now discuss team morale and team spirit. A team that works well together, enjoys what they do, and sees the value of their collective and individual efforts is more likely to become a close-knit group that performs both highly efficiently and effectively.
Boosting team spirit often occurs away from Trello boards and outside of meeting rooms. Consider celebrating small and big wins and encouraging the team to see how their work directly impacts the company’s growth and victories. Likewise, consider instituting a culture were praising one another on jobs well done is the norm
For more helpful tips on these very topics, we have put together 6 ways you can encourage team spirit in the workplace.
A team is only as good as those leading them. You are sure to be more than capable of communicating decisions to your team and executing your plans to help make the team more efficient by setting a good example and actively trying to hone your leadership skills. Leadership is a skill and a trait that needs to be developed and honed.
Whilst some of us may have a natural talent for leadership, those in leadership positions must take the time to learn how to be a good leaders. You can learn how to be a leader in some different ways. For example, by attending courses, reading books, or finding a mentor to guide you. By improving yourself and learning how to become a good leader you can help lead your team more efficiently.
So now that we have imparted some of our best advice and guidance on building an efficient team, we hope that you go out and put it all to good use.
If you are in need of some extra help then be sure to try Mentimeter and see how we can help you run better meetings, improve team culture, and boost engagement levels!