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Team Productivity

10 Best Practices To Keep Team Productivity High

Stephanie Gonzaga
January 5, 2015
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Are you struggling with boosting team productivity and encouraging your team to engage with you more? Then you may be neglecting their needs all along. Today’s leaders know that nurturing and caring for the team enables each member to thrive, grow, and become more engaged at work. In fact, successful companies like Carrot.is, Hubspot, and Automattic are where they are today because of the investments they’ve made in creating a company culture that focuses and emphasises on team happiness.

While you can’t afford a team meet-up at Hawaii just yet, there are ways to nurture your team so they’re always in tip-top shape mind, body, and soul. Here are nine great strategies to implement:

1. Rearrange your workspace.

“Sitting is now being dubbed as the new smoking,” shares Fraser Callaway, co-founder of Refold. Instead of letting your team members sit in static workspaces for eight hours on end, encourage engagement, interaction, and collaboration by reinventing the workspace. You can add standing desks to the workspace, coat the walls with new wallpaper, or add new furniture to the office.

2. Encourage healthy eating and frequent water intakes

It sounds simple enough, but office workers tend to forget about their health when deeply engaged in work. As a result, they become sluggish and ineffective. Combat lack of nutrition by encouraging healthy eating through nutritious snacks, energy-boosting meals, and frequent water intakes.

3. Take essential breaks.

Stuck with a problem? Are a ton of ideas inhibiting you from taking the next step in a project? Art Markman encourages “productive pauses” to allow the mind to reset and offer insights taken from a change in view and perspective. Taking essential breaks may also prevent burns out and creative stress that could stop the productivity flow dead on its tracks.

4. Pack up and head out on team retreats.

Leading a remote team has its economic benefits, but an in-person get-together fosters healthy interaction and better relationships among team members. When possible, set time aside for team retreats where you get to interact with all of the members on the same level.

5. Provide opportunities for learning.

The key to innovation is being open to learning opportunities. Provide your team with access or passes to online or virtual courses that could teach them new skills or hone their existing skill sets. You may not know it, but that simple, inspiring TEDx video you shared last week may have made all the difference.

6. Attend local and nationwide conferences.

99U Conference 2015, The Instigator Experience, and HOW Design Live 2015 are just some of the many conferences and events you can attend to grow your relationships and further your knowledge about your industry. These local and nationwide conferences are great opportunities to network, inspire, and motivate your team to learn and progress as a collective unit.

7. Set time for one-on-one sessions.

A true leader works hand-in-hand with the team, and that means knowing exactly what they need, what their ideas and opinions are, understanding their concerns, and taking action. One of the best ways to learn more about your team is to set one-on-one sessions with them. May it be over coffee or at the office, devote time and attention to hear from and understand your team members.

8. Be compassionate in times of need.

As much as you want to ensure that everything goes according to plan, that’s just not the way life works. Emergencies and problems happen and at any point, which can affect any of your team members’ ability to focus on work. In times of trouble, show compassion and understanding by allowing your team to make the necessary adjustments they need to cope and get back on track.

9. Open the floor for creative side projects.

Side projects open the floor for all kinds of creative possibilities. They also boost work performance, increased creativity, and foster engagement within the team.

Whether it’s a new Tumblr or a prototype that may just become the next Gmail, encourage your team members to explore, work on, and share their creative side projects. They may not have anything to do with the company as a whole, but the experience, insights, and findings may lead to opportunities you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.

10. Write and share a daily summary.

At TeamGantt, each member leaves a daily summary detailing what has been done for the day, what's on tomorrow's agenda, and what are the things blocking progress.

This simple yet daily practice keeps us informed of what everyone's working on, and allow us to comment and suggest solutions when possible. It's a great way to keep in touch and work as a team, even when we're scattered across two continents.

On to you: What do you do to increase your team’s focus and progress? Share your ideas in the comments below.

Project management milestone examples

Milestones make it easier to keep projects on track by calling out major events, dates, decisions, and deliverables. Here are a few examples of project milestones you might include in your plan:

  • Start and end dates for project phases
  • Key deliveries
  • Client and stakeholder approvals
  • Important meetings and presentations
  • Key dates or outages that may impact your timeline

Let’s dig a little deeper and explore 3 specific examples of how using project milestones can benefit your projects.

Monitor deadlines

No plan is ever complete without a list of deadlines! The best way to make them noticeable is to use the project management milestones and deliverables technique. What does this mean? Make the deliverables project milestones!

Why do this? Well, it’s no secret that not everyone wants to pore over your beautiful project plan to find key dates. Most people—your teammates included—want a top-level view of key dates and events. Milestones are great for this purpose because they’re called out in a special way—usually with a diamond—in project plans.

While you should list the tasks and effort leading up to a project milestone, be sure to present the milestone at the end of those tasks to signify a delivery, or even a presentation of, the deliverable.

Here's an example of how Washington Hyperloop uses milestones to track an important deadline in their project.

Spotlight important dates

Are there days from now until the end of your project that could impact your project in some way? Maybe your team will need to be out of the office for a mandatory training. Maybe there’s a board meeting you’re expected to attend.

It’s important to keep all of these important events in mind when you’re planning a project because they could possibly impact your project schedule. So why not include them as project milestones so you can track them all in one place?

In this example, the team’s off-site strat-op meeting has been added to the project plan as a milestone so work can be scheduled around it.

date milestone in gantt chart

Identify potential project bottlenecks

Many projects rely on the work produced by external teams or partners to make forward progress. If you’re not tracking those external factors somewhere, there’s a great chance you’ll forget to follow-up on it.

That’s why it’s important to list these deliverables as project milestones if you’re working on a project that depends on someone or something outside of your project. Here’s an example of what that might look like for a client approval.

deliverable milestone in gantt chart

Want to hit major milestones on time more often?

We’ve got a free class to help you get everyone on board with your plan! Register for Plan Up: How to Create and Sell a Winning Project Plan to see why planning sets the stage for project success, and get a free Guide to Project Planning when you sign up.

How to create a project milestone

Creating milestones for your project plan can be simple, especially with TeamGantt. Once you’ve mapped out your overall process and plan with your team, you can easily add tasks, identify gantt chart milestones, and determine task owners. Adding a milestone (or converting a task to a milestone) is very easy in TeamGantt.

Once you’ve signed up for a TeamGantt account, here’s a quick video on how to create milestones:

Project milestones are easy to create and even easier to track because you’ve called out the most important points in your project.

How to share project milestones with clients and stakeholders

Want to give clients and stakeholders a high-level view of the project? Simply follow these steps to share a PDF of key project milestones in your gantt chart.

1. Filter your project by milestones.

From your gantt chart view, click the All Dates menu at the top of your gantt chart, and select Only Milestones from the drop-down.

filter gantt chart by project milestones

2. Export your filtered project to a PDF file.

Navigate to your project's Menu, and select Print/Export PDF from the drop-down.

export gantt chart with project milestones to PDF

Customize your PDF settings, then click View PDF to complete the export. From there, you can download and/or print your PDF to share with clients and stakeholders.

share PDF of gantt chart filtered by project milestones

Who would have thought such a critical step could be so easy?

Hit every project milestone with ease

TeamGantt makes it easy to create, track, and collaborate on all your project milestones so nothing slips through the cracks.

You’ll have all the features you need to ensure projects finish on time and under budget—from drag and drop simplicity and team collaboration to customizable views and workload management.

Best of all, it’s all wrapped up in a simple and intuitive interface your whole team will love. 😍

Give TeamGantt a free try today!

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