Deadlines are tight, and competition for time, talent, and market share is fierce. Running an efficient team can help you achieve more and improve your focus to garner a competitive advantage. With the right tools, you can empower your employees toward better performance.
Teams of any size and situation can benefit from implementing efficiency practices. Colleagues will appreciate the clarity and time-saving impacts that cleaning up schedules and adopting best practices can provide. To get started, review your current team structure, behaviors, and habits — good and bad. Be honest with yourself about what’s working and what isn’t. Once you’ve got a clear view of the challenge ahead, it’s time to get to work.
1. Use Productivity Tools to Streamline Work and Deliver on Deadlines
If you’re still creating Gantt charts in Excel, now is the time to make your work life simpler. While the Microsoft standby is a powerful tool, there are easier and more efficient ways of managing workflows. Software teams, content creators, operations teams, and more can benefit from today’s tech solutions.
Project management software designed for modern teams makes planning, managing, and collaborating at work a snap. Project leads can set up teams, share documents, centralize chats, and facilitate collaboration all in one place. And if your team is distributed across the globe or working autonomously, the software can make workflows sync up seamlessly.
Plus, your new project channel will help reduce the noise often found in today’s workplace troublemaker: email. Email has become a dumping ground for subscriptions, sales pitches, and endless threads. Centralizing your project communications can quiet the noise and help you deliver on deadlines.
Many teams find that centralizing document sharing makes remote work easier, too. With real-time editing options, a centralized set of meeting minutes is up-to-date after it’s been reviewed. You’ll maintain version control and have better transparency across team roles and responsibilities.
2. Set Clear Expectations for Roles and Projects
The question of “Who’s doing what?” perennially bubbles up, even on cyclical projects. Project management software can help, but you should still start by creating clear expectations for roles and projects. Benchmark your work toward your organization’s strategic plan or other guiding documents. This practice can help provide a North Star for your work.
The project management software you’re using can certainly reinforce this clarity. Assign tasks to individuals and specify deadlines; the software will send alerts to keep them on task. These reminders will reduce your touchpoints and encourage your team members to take responsibility for their own deliverables.
As you review each team member’s workload, you can better identify who has the capacity and who doesn’t. If an expert on your team is constantly being requested, you can better protect their time. You’ll know how much capacity they have to take on new work, thanks to better visibility and time estimates. This factor can improve project efficiency and reduce burnout due to overwork and stress.
Using technology to assign work and send reminders can help clarify roles and reduce the time required to manage projects. Project leads will have more opportunity to dig into issues or analyze data and performance. Problems will arise, but since you’ve offloaded a great deal of work by clarifying roles and responsibilities, chaos won’t follow.
3. Create Predictability and Consistency Wherever You Can
Hanging on to talented team members is one of today’s biggest challenges at work. High turnover and even welcome promotions are commonplace, so it’s important to document the way work gets done. Fortunately, there are straightforward ways to integrate predictability and consistency into your projects.
First, review the type of tasks your team handles. If there are cyclical tasks that happen weekly, monthly, semi-annually, or annually, your team could benefit from standard processes and procedures. Log the work types that qualify and which team members and stakeholders need to be engaged. Then, develop a framework for how your team’s processes and procedures might be codified.
Generally, well-performing procedures are so clear you could hand them to a stranger and they’d be able to make sense of them. Depersonalize your documentation by listing titles or role names instead of individual team members. This will further create clarity, as team members frequently change.
Review your draft document with your team and walk through the steps to identify errors or missed steps. During the initial process creation stage, you’ll spend a good deal of time fine-tuning your document. But your upfront work will pay off each time the process doc is referenced, so diligence early on is essential. Then, schedule it for review annually, to keep it fresh and accurate long-term. If you identify potential improvements, get approval on changes from the appropriate subject matter experts.
Celebrating Your Efficiency Wins
After the organizational change process your team has undergone with the aim of improved efficiency, a celebration is in order. Beyond just checking off the box of a to-do list, acknowledge the personal commitments of your team.
While you should definitely cap off your efficiency project with a celebration, plan for long-term and ongoing engagement. Empower managers to acknowledge team member leadership and those who champion your new efficiency practices. Consistently nurture your culture change, and your people will help ensure its longevity and the time-saving benefits it delivers.