How To Improve Team Productivity and How To Measure It
by Michael Hoffman and Yasser Santiago
This is where most companies succeed or fail.
We’ve all seen big companies start from the ground up.
Microsoft, Apple, Uber and many others have shown us that we can go from an idea to a successful business with the right bases.
These bases are as simple as: a good idea, a good piece of determination and maybe more importantly, a good productive team.
Usually, in the early stages of a company or startup, the team’s engagement and productivity are more than crucial. This is where most companies succeed or fail.
Their teams might not be as motivated or productive, or even the same managers cannot clearly see the potential team productivity improvements.
How to improve team productivity
Let’s take an example of a task that your teams perform each day. How would you measure your team’s email productivity?
- Do you count the number of emails employees receive?
- Do you count the number of emails employees send?
- Do you count the number of minutes spent on email each day?
- Do you check the content of their emails?
- Maybe you just ask them if they felt productive in the way they handle email?
- Do you count the number of minutes they spend responding to emails?
- Perhaps you would divide the time they spend working on email by the number of responses they send?
Try answering this question yourself. I promise that the great majority of you very smart people wouldn’t have a great answer. (The answer comes at the end of this article, but don’t peek yet.)
As preposterous as it sounds, 25 years after the email was invented, organizations still don’t know how to measure team’s productivity in this space. The reason they don’t is that their leaders are unaware of the new technology and training that can transform the wasteful, error-ridden way we work today into an efficient and effective business tool that it has the potential to be.
The way to measure the team’s email productivity is by creating a solution that shows your progress in real-time. Since email, by its very nature, is constantly changing, evolving, expanding and contracting as the day progresses, measuring trends makes very little sense; and to measure productivity in terms of emails sent or received per hour is meaningless. I could send 10 silly emails to friends and family, John can send one important mail to a customer, and I would come out ten times more productive.
Here are the top 10 measurements we should be taking:
- Are the most important things getting done?
- Are they getting done at the right time? (Urgency follows Priority as Form follows Function and Just In Time)
- Are timewasters dealt with in the best way possible?
- Are we touching emails as few times as possible?
- Is everything properly scheduled to leverage our time in the best way?
- Is there a way to know when I’m done for the day? (Hugely important for stress release)
- Is it foolproof? (Never miss or be late with mail)
- Can we find archived emails instantly?
- Are we working according to a repeatable method that ensures as few defects as possible?
- And the ultimate proof: Are our customers (internal as well as external) happy with our performance.
You can improve team productivity; you just have to work it.
It would be easy to walk away from this article and say that those 10 items are too difficult to measure, but the fact of the matter is that at least one company, LeanMail, has made it possible to not only measure this way, but to ensure employees are able to work as productively as possible, and who knows, maybe there are other companies out there too?
Continuing to bury your head in the sand may not kill your organization as long as your competitors do the same, but why not at least take a peek at what is actually going on? You’ll be very surprised, I’m sure — and not pleasantly. But at least then you’ll be able to appoint someone to investigate it; someone who will be able to confirm that the problem is company-wide and that the solution is embarrassingly simple.