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7 Steps You Can Take to Make Your Team More Productive

By Emilie Shoop (1138 words)
Posted in Management on September 19, 2013

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As a first time manager, you have a lot to learn about leading and managing your team.  A LOT.  Unfortunately, the one thing I see new managers overlooking time and time again is that you have a whole team to help you in that process.  The team knows the work that is being done, the work that needs to be done, what works and what doesn’t.  


When I became a manager for the first time, I wanted to do everything right.  I wanted to hold the right meetings, the right way.  Everyone walked away with their task lists, plans, and action items.  Then, we would come back and report on everything at the next meeting.  Unfortunately, one of the pieces I was missing was how best my team worked.  


Yes, my team needed to be a bit more organized than we were in the past.  However, my team did not function well in a meeting structure.  They liked to work out problems and solutions as a group, not divide and conquer.  Spontaneity and creativity led them to their best results.  Being interrupted to go to too many meetings did not allow them to function at their highest level.


Over time, I found ways to keep the group organized and on track for our goals, while also honoring what worked for them.  Instead of a bunch of meetings, we met once a week.  I would go and sit where my team was working to engage in and sometimes facilitate the discussions that were naturally occurring as problems were resolved.  This allowed me to stay on top of things without having everyone “report” to me.


What Works for Your Team?

Take a look at your team.  How do they prefer to get their jobs done?  How can you honor that and incorporate it into your leadership style?  Not sure?  Ask them!


As I developed my leadership skills, I started to follow a very similar flow over and over with each team that I was called to lead.  


7 Steps You Can Take To Make Your Team More Productive

Step 1

A new project or initiative is assigned to my team either by upper management or as an internal decision of what needs to be done next.


Step 2

First, as the leader, I need to get clear on my expectations and goals for delivery of the project or initiative.  This is a very important step that is skipped a lot!  It can change over time and as you get more feedback, but it is always best to approach your team with what you have in mind.  Not just questions.


Step 3

Meet with the team as a whole to share the new project or initiative and to gather ideas.  Find out if and how they have worked through a similar project or initiative in the past.  Ask what didn’t work or would cause the project to be delayed significantly.  Get input on how the team thinks it would be best to proceed.  And don’t forget to check how it impacts their current workload.


Step 4

Follow up the group discussion by meeting with individuals as needed for deeper understanding of tasks, risks, impacts, etc.  In the interest of everyone’s time in the team discussion, if someone has particular experiences or concerns that I want to dive in to, I find it best to have those in separate conversations.  


Step 5

Go back and work up a plan based on my expectations and goals, and the team’s feedback.  This is where instead of just telling the team “this is how it’s going to be done,” I take a look and see where I can incorporate everything I learned from the discussion(s) I’ve had with them.  Ultimately the completion of the project or the initiative weighs on my shoulders, so as the leader I have the final say in how we will get it done.


Step 6

Share the plan for the project or initiative with the team.  Make sure to share all the parts I was able to incorporate from their input to gain buy-in.  If there were things we just couldn’t do the way they wanted, I present to them why and how it will work without those pieces.  


Step 7

Set clear expectations for accountability, including my own.  To keep the team’s trust in me and my leadership ability, they also need to know what to expect of me on this project.  Then, I need to keep up my end of the bargain!



Although I mapped this out as seven steps in this article, depending on the size of the project, all of this can be done in an hour, a week, or a month.  I use it as a rough guideline each time I approach my team with new work.  The more they are familiar with this flow, the more comfortable they are with each new project.  



{#/pub/images/20120913174147_DSC_14831small.jpg}Written by Emilie Shoop, Creator and Leader of Shoop Training & Consulting A sought after Coach, Mompreneur, Strategist, Mentor, Speaker, Author, Trainer & Business Consultant, Emilie works with people who are ready for that next level of success, and realize how they work with people is KEY.  Her coaching will help you lead, delegate, sell, collaborate, perform, influence, and relate with people to launch your success to the next level. She provides clients, teams and organizations the skills and tools for leadership and professional excellence.



Do you have a management question for Emilie?  Post it in our First Time Manager/Supervisor Community and she will be happy to help: Ask an Expert


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