Managing your team’s workload and efficiency is an art that not every manager has perfected. If you’re in that boat, don’t worry — we’ve got 13 methods to help you tackle workplace productivity and improve work performance for your team.

If you’ve found your team’s performance slipping, don’t panic. And don’t wait until it’s time for performance reviews to talk about productivity.

Use employee performance metrics and productivity tools to help track and improve team output. And above all, communicate with your team to help them boost their performance.

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How to improve work performance

To improve your team’s productivity, you will need to help them develop essential skills like prioritization, goal setting, and time management.

As a manager, you can improve performance by implementing policies to eliminate unnecessary meetings, create a solid work-life balance, and give your team constructive feedback.

1. Prioritize essential tasks

Prioritizing tasks can save your team valuable time. But before concentrating on which tasks to prioritize, you should establish a baseline policy of saying “no” to projects when your plate is full.

It is crucial that your team feels comfortable prioritizing specific tasks over others. When their workload is too high, they should focus on projects that must be completed first.

We often focus on our favorite or most manageable tasks and leave the least desirable ones for last. This can allow projects to lag behind and end up behind schedule.

Kanban project management is perfect for task organization and prioritization. Consider finding a task management platform with Kanban-style boards to increase work performance.

Hubstaff Tasks Kanban board view

Begin by visibly setting the example of strategically prioritizing tasks. This can help your team learn by example. When you’re willing to defer tasks or keep first things first, your team will start to follow your lead.

How to get started

Download a task tracking platform if you don’t already have one, and begin to add priority labels to the most critical tasks (here is a list of our favorites). Then, set upcoming deadlines for those tasks that are manageable but still urgent.

2. Set and manage expectations

Setting expectations is essential to helping your team be more productive and performance-driven. Effective communication can transform your team’s outlook on the workplace.

When you communicate your team’s expectations and how managers will track these metrics, your team will work harder to meet these goals.

Without clear communication and expectations, your team will not know what success looks like for their roles and may not feel inspired to work hard to succeed in their jobs.

Clear communication creates a cohesive employee experience that is structured and transparent. When employees are aware of your expectations, they are more likely to feel secure in what they’re doing, because their goals are clear.

Companies in the top quartile for employee experience are usually 25% more profitable than their competitors in the bottom quartile- Deloitte research

How to get started

Set a time to meet with your direct reports and discuss expectations with them individually. Give them a chance to voice their opinion regarding how they think success should be measured. As experts in their roles, they will have good ideas about how work is going, how to improve, and what kind of goals are realistic.

3. Set time for focused work

You may be surprised to see your team transforms their workflow when you prioritize focused work time. A workforce can avoid distractions by setting time for concentrated, focused work.

Focus time means you pause phone calls and Slack notifications within a specified timeframe to allow for deep, focused work sessions.

This time should be consistent. Consider publicly scheduling this time in your calendar and encouraging your team to do the same.

Set focus time for when you’re most productive — if you’re a morning person, consider making 9 AM your deep focus hour.

Google Chrome productivity tools can help you set and follow focus times. For instance, StayFocusd is a Chrome extension that enables you to reduce your time on unproductive web pages.

Screenshot of StayFocusd Chrome extension page

How to get started

Send a message and ask your team to pick two focus time sessions (around 4 hours each) per week and mark them on their calendars. If possible, add these time slots to a public or shared calendar so others can see them.

4. Only schedule necessary meetings

Meetings are essential to working collaboratively as a team. But how many meetings are too many? It’s hard to nail down a specific number, but we all know it when we see it.

There is a reason why the “meeting that should have been an email” joke is so common. And as a business owner, you know that meeting costs add up.

Eliminating unnecessary meetings can ensure that your team doesn’t waste time holding lengthy meetings with large groups that could have been a short Slack exchange between just a few team members.

On average, employees spend 550 to 750 hours in meetings per year. Two out of three employees say that unnecessary meetings prevent them from completing their work.

Here at Hubstaff, we established a “no meeting day” policy that helps our team focus on work and devote their complete focus to projects for at least one day a week.

How to get started

Send a company-wide or department-wide message regarding meetings. Ask your team to inspect the meetings on their schedule, determine their necessity, and encourage them to consider reducing recurring meetings.

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5. Set goals and milestones

Helping your team set clear goals and milestones can encourage them to focus on professional development and learn new skills. This, in turn, increases their performance and encourages them to work harder.

Setting lofty goals is easy, but you should encourage your team to set manageable and realistic goals they can accomplish in a quarter or a week. Smaller goals should coordinate with larger goals and serve as stepping stones to achieve their larger goals.

Once your team sets a series of smart goals, it is vital to have regular meetings to check-in on milestones and continually set weekly, monthly, or quarterly self-improvement goals.

Ensure that these goals align with the overall team’s goals and align with documentation. Be sure to celebrate team members who accomplish their goals and expand their skill sets.

How to get started

In your next check-in meeting, create a series of written goals with your team members. Try to make short- and long-term goals that team members can accomplish in three months, six months, and one year.

6. Identify and fix inefficiencies

Wasted time is not an unavoidable cost of doing business. You can use productivity tools to track time spent on projects and automation tools to eliminate repetitive tasks.

Hubstaff’s employee productivity measurement software gives you access to a dashboard that shows your entire team’s productivity in one view. You can track the time spent on projects across your organization and see where time is being spent.

Screenshot of Hubstaff's time and activity dashboard can help identify and fix inefficiencies

Increase your team’s efficiency with Hubstaff’s time reporting features. This feature lets you view employee activity and track productive and unproductive apps and URLs.

Automation is a great way to tackle inefficiencies. Knowing how your team spends their time can help you automate processes and redistribute work across teams.

How to get started

Use a productivity measurement tool to find inefficiencies, track time spent on projects, and pinpoint projects that take more time than the output is worth. Automate these tasks or redistribute work amongst teams.

7. Implement a communication manifesto

At Hubstaff, we believe in the importance of implementing a communication manifesto and practicing good team communication. We’re a 100% remote team, so curating guidelines for communication is crucial.

Whether your team is remote or in-office, you need to allow teams the freedom to focus on work when necessary but establish expectations for when team members and managers can expect a reply to messages and questions.

Here are some things you should consider outlining in your communication manifesto:

  • Focus time expectations 
  • Guidelines for where communication should take place (email, Slack, texts, or phone calls)
  • How soon team members should expect a response
  • Establish boundaries for after-hours communication and response times
  • Outline timezones when team members should be online
  • Instructions to alert managers and team members of time off 

These expectations can help create a better work-life balance for your team while improving communication and ensuring team members respond to questions and messages.

Learn to communicate like a pro

How to get started

Talk with your HR department and work together to decide what is reasonable to expect from your team. Then, when you’re ready to create your own set of communication rules, use our manifesto for inspiration.

8. Foster time management skills

Whether it’s on an individual or company level, effective time management is critical to completing projects on time. Work performance and employee stress levels will noticeably improve when you enhance time management across your team.

Effective time management will improve work performance faster than perhaps any other method on this list. But improving time management isn’t one-size-fits-all for your team.

Establishing solid communication strategies is the first step to helping your team manage time. Some team members will thrive under pressure, and strict deadlines may increase their work performance. For others, strict deadlines may seem overwhelming.

If you find that some team members consistently miss deadlines, use it as an opportunity to reach out to them and ask how you can help them manage their time.

How to get started

Talk to your team about their stress levels and observe how they respond to deadlines. Then, implement task assignment strategies that work for your team.

9. Work-life balance

Per LinkedIn, 63% of job seekers want work-life balance

A healthy work-life balance can do wonders for your team’s productivity. It can be a tricky balance to strike, but when you do, you will notice your team will perform better and relax outside of work hours.

How can you do this? By enabling your team to work hard during their scheduled hours and take time off when they’re not working. When team members reset and decompress fully, they are more likely to show up to work giving 100%.

But work-life balance isn’t just for the weekend. Short breaks during the working day and hours adjusted to fit your team’s lifestyle can help them be more productive when they’re working and prevent burnout.

Helping your team create a healthy and productive workspace, whether they’re working remote or in-office, can also help their overall health and energy levels.

How to get started

Consider giving your team the freedom to work remotely and research how to manage a remote team effectively. If your team needs to be in the office, ensure they get adequate breaks and take PTO.

10. Avoid multitasking

Many of us associate multitasking with productivity. Doing more things at once means you’re getting more done, right? Not quite.

If you’re a multitasker, you likely assume that splitting your time between tasks makes you more productive. But rather than increasing your productivity, multitasking can waste time.

According to Forbes, “multitasking hamstrings [productivity] by as much as 40%. Multitasking increases stress while reducing achievement and meaningfulness.”

So, to increase work performance, encourage your team to focus on one task at a time. Rather than splitting time between two projects, learn to delegate tasks and encourage your team members to do the same.

How to get started

Send your team information about multitasking and start a conversation about how it impacts work. They are likely unaware of the impact multitasking can have on their work.

11. Give constructive feedback

Feedback and communication are crucial to helping your team perform better and grow professionally.

Talking with your team about their performance candidly and giving helpful feedback can help your team reach their full potential. Initially, it may feel awkward and painful, but your team will appreciate the honesty when done correctly.

When time permits, give feedback on your team members’ overall performance and projects.

Ensure that the feedback is constructive and doesn’t just criticize but leaves room for improvement and change. Constructive feedback should always aim to achieve a positive new outcome.

When your team receives input and works to implement it, their performance will improve over time. By speaking up about areas of growth and opportunities for improvement, team members will be better able to complete projects in the future.

Illustration of a feedback loop: ask, segment, act, follow up

How to get started

Before you can give feedback to your team comfortably, you need to create a company culture that is comfortable giving and receiving feedback. Hold check-ins regularly and give feedback but also ask for feedback from your team and receive it well. Giving helpful feedback starts with being able to receive feedback yourself.

12. Task batch

Task batching is a project management and productivity method that organizes tasks by similarity or context. Your team can use this method to complete more projects at a time and avoid wasting time by switching focus from one task to another.

Remember when we said that multitasking is bad? Task batching is the perfect solution to that. Rather than working on five unrelated projects at once, group your tasks and work on them one after the other.

Batching tasks helps you stay in the flow of things without being disrupted to work on something new. When you spend all your efforts on one project or concept, you will be better able to work on those projects than if you constantly switch gears.

You can batch any tasks you regularly work on, including client emails, phone calls, creative projects, creating reports, and writing.

How to get started

Start by sorting your ongoing tasks into groups based on similarities. Then, schedule your to-do list so that you can tackle similar projects in the same time frame.

13. Play to your team’s strengths and weaknesses

If you notice a team member is not performing well or if their performance is slipping, that is the perfect time to talk to them about how they feel they fit in their role.

Sit down with that team member and ask them about their strengths and weaknesses in their role. Is there anything you can do to help them use their strengths better to complete tasks on time?

Talking this out with them may unearth problems with your internal processes or the team member’s utilization that you didn’t consider before.

For example, you may find that this team member is bogged down by administrative tasks that you could automate. Talking with them about the part of their workflow that they are struggling with is the first step.

Is anyone noticing a common thread here? Communication. Without proper communication, your team’s performance will suffer.

56% of budgets allocated to projects are at risk due to poor communication.

How to get started

Send your team a self-assessment to determine skills they have that are underutilized. Then, set up meetings to discuss how you can help them use their skills better in their current position or another role.

Begin improving your team’s performance today

Join other high-performing teams who have automated their productivity measurement and improved their team performance and overall productivity.

With these tricks under your belt, you can spend less time micro-managing and more time helping your team grow in a healthy and productive work environment.

These methods may be daunting to take on at once, but we encourage you to start with just one. Find the item on this list that seems the easiest to tackle first (remember, we included tips on how to get started) and add it to your to-do list.

If you begin this week, you will see performance improvement within the next few months, and you can start to implement more strategies that work for your team. Even a tiny change could significantly impact your team’s performance.

Remember, teamwork makes the dream work.

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Category: Employee Productivity