Here are 10 sure-fire ways to boost team productivity.  Note that I’m not saying “teamwork” or “teambuilding”.   Where the rubber meets the road is productivity–deliverables–work getting done.  All the rest is fluff.



1) Decide which tasks would benefit from a team approach and which tasks could better be done individually, and ONLY do those tasks!   There’s nothing that frustrates team members more than being told “You must do EVERYTHING together!”    Teamwork is situational. Every task does not call for collaboration!


2) Be super clear about how the team will be recognized, awarded and appreciated.    When you do something alone, you generally know how the compensation will play out.  With teams, it can be muddier.    It’s up to team leaders to communicate how team compensation will be at least commensurate with what people are used to when working alone.


3) Decide early on how team members will be held accountable.  Who hasn’t been on a team where certain participants kind of slide along, riding the coat tails of the people actually doing the work?   Frustrating!  This can be avoided by co-creating a list of behaviors that all team members agree to be held accountable to.    Then, when you check in periodically, you review the behaviors and assess whether people are towing the line!


4) Remember to celebrate micro successes. Too often teams wait until the end of the project to have a big celebration party.  How about celebrating whenever you reach a milestone!  This will keep the energy going and remind people that this is a ongoing process.


5) Promote healthy lifestyle.   This one sounds a little woo-woo, but people are less productive when they’re in pain and discomfort.    On the other hand, when people are taking care of their bodies through sleep, diet and movement, inflammation goes down, energy goes up and people will work longer and more enthusiastically.     This means bringing healthy food options to all meetings — especially fruits and vegetables!  It means getting people moving, whatever that looks like.   It means promoting 8 hours of sleep, rather than tacitly rewarding folks who are burning the midnight oil. Sleep deprivation is not macho!


6) Promote mindfulness.  This one is similar to #5, but pretty essential as well.   Teams lose productivity when they get tripped up by their own faulty narratives.  “Oh, it’s alll his fault.  Oh, it’s all MY fault!”    Teams do much better when people are following practices that keep them IN THE PRESENT, rather than spinning out of control, worrying about the past or the future.   Whether it ‘s meditation, yoga. tai chi or whatever, mindfulness is key.


7) Get out of the office together…and not just drinking.    Alcohol has its place, but not everyone reacts to the effects of an adult drink in the same way.  (For some, alcohol can be a major depressant!)    Stick to silly, social activities that make people smile and help them blow off steam:   Dinner out, mini golf, bowling, go karts, scavenger hunts, whatever.   We’re more productive when we know, like and trust the people we’re working with, and that happens outside of the office.


8) Catch people doing something right.    Our analytical minds tend to look for errors, mistakes and consistencies, which is great.  We need quality control.   But people also need praise, acknowledgement and recognition.  So rather than just calling people out when they’ve made a mistake, catch someone when they’ve done something right!


9) Play to team members’ values.  When it comes to motivation, we all know that some people are internally motivated while others see rewards from the external world.  Everyone is different and it’s up to the team leader to know what exactly motivates each team member, and then try and give that to them.  There are 4 key mindsets to keep in mind:

  • Get to:    Yay, I get to do this project!
  • Want to:    I want to do this project, but there’s this obstacle.
  • Should do:  I should do this project…that’s what people tell me…
  • Have to:   I have to do this project.  Argh


Understanding values helps you to play to people’s “Get to” mindset


10) Build trust.  There are five keys here:   Authenticity, Transparency, Consistency, Sincerity and Caring.        If people trust each other, productivity rises.  If not, it plummets.     Encourage people to share their emotions.   Stress the need for consistent, reliable behavior.   Don’t tell lies!  And demonstrate that you care about your teammates and their struggles. You’ve got their back no matter what.


Click on the video below for a few more thoughts on the subject from Dr. Clue founder and president, Dave Blum