2 keys for group productivity

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Editor’s note: Today we would like to welcome a new author to our blog. Jeroen Sangers (@JeroenSangers) is personal productivity consultant and author of the blog El Canasto. He specializes in modern techniques to manage time, actions and attention, and provides training, consulting and keynotes on a more intelligent way to work and live.

Any trainer of a sports team knows it: although the players may be stars, that does not guarantee that the team will win. You have surely seen how the biggest football teams that have spent millions of dollars to get the best players often finish the season with the worst results. In order for a team to work, more than just good individual results are needed.

Personal productivity

No one works alone. Although we try to do all our tasks as best as possible and with maximum efficiency, for many things we depend on our co-workers. The web developer needs the texts of the copywriter, the sales rep needs the brochures of the marketing department, the marketing director needs the production status of the new products, etc.

We may work efficiently, but if our co-workers are chaotic, we can’t be productive.

The truth is that personal productivity cannot be extrapolated to the efficiency of teams. What are the two keys for group productivity?

1. Roles and responsibilities

In my opinion, the most important thing for building a productive team is to know the other members of the group well. Each person is different and has their strong points, their weaknesses and their own manner. Like in the different positions in a football team, a team works better if there are various profiles of people. Each team needs a leader, a creative person, someone who looks after relations, someone who gets to work straight away, etc.

In the 1970s, Dr. Meredith Belbin developed a model with 9 essential roles for each team. We can use this model to identify the roles of each member and find the skills that we are missing in our team.

2. Internal communication

The second key point for a team to be efficient is internal communication.

The dilemma is that we want to know all our co-workers’ actions, projects, ideas and concerns, yet we don’t want to waste time with useless information.

To do this, we need to establish the best way of communicating in each case. In many offices, when we have to ask a co-worker something, we usually get up and go to their desk. Obviously we are causing a major interruption.

It is better to use a less intrusive communication medium, like for example, email, the intranet or an enterprise social network. Then we can agree on exceptions for specific situations: How do we communicate if we need an instant response? What communication medium do we have to talk about sensitive issues or emotions?

There is no one solution. The key is knowing which communication media are available, knowing the benefits and the problems of each way of communicating, and establishing an internal communication protocol with the other members of the team.

If you want to be part of a productive team and win the league, you need to know your team well and have a top-quality communication channel.