3 Simple Ways To Improve Your Team’s Productivity

As a manager, continually find ways to improve your team’s productivity.  Let’s start with three quick and inexpensive options:

Let the Music Play

Your employees likely spend much of their time in front of a computer in the course of an 8+ hour day.  Tasks which are redundant, especially in front of a screen, cause boredom and a loss of focus.  Studies have shown that music makes repetitive tasks, which require little concentration, more tolerable.  This helps the day go faster and work seems less like a four-letter word.  Implement music in your work place and you will see a happier, more productive team.  Projects will be completed in a more timely fashion, resulting in reduced overtime and overall savings.  This works in a variety of scenarios so be brave and turn the music up!

What Should You Play?

Music allows an escape from the mundane, while masking a noisy work place – as in a factory.  In an office environment, music can serve as ambient noise.  Keep in mind that lyrics can add distraction at the office, so consider instrumental or classical music.  This will allow your team to stay focused, while being more productive.

Let the Sun Shine In

Lighting plays a major role in your team’s physical and mental well-being, and it has been proven people feel better under specific lighting.  Therefore, there is a connection between light and productivity, and cooler light will make your team more productive.  Natural light is the best and will improve one’s overall mood and energy.

If you are lucky enough to scout out your office space, always opt for more windows, especially where a majority of work will be done.  The more windows the better.  Even if there is a higher cost, you will make it up in the increase in productivity.  If you are in an existing location, consider blue enriched light bulbs.  They increase performance while reducing fatigue, both contributing to a healthy bottom line.

Make it Pleasant to Breathe In

All senses affect memory; however, the sense of smell is the strongest.  It is even stronger than sight.  We associate smell with locations and even people and can instantly be taken back in time.  Ever smell a freshly baked apple pie and you are transported to Grandma’s kitchen on Thanksgiving?  Your mood is also affected by your sense of smell.   Ever wonder why realtors bring cookies to a showing?  Yep, to get you in the mood to make a deal.  The aroma of coffee has the ability to reduce your perception of time, causing you to browse a little longer.  Even baby powder can prolong your perception.

Some scents can make you more alert, and therefore, more productive.  Studies have shown that diffusing lemon oil into an office can increase productivity by over 50%.  Before you start filling your office with eucalyptus and ginger, check with your team for any allergies or aversions.  Then find something that works and implement it.

In Closing…

Keep your team happy and productive with an office that is filled with good music, great lighting, and pleasant scents, and watch their productivity rise.  You will also notice a decrease in turnover due to the rise in their happiness.  And it may not be a bad idea to bake some cookies, too!

Making Good Decisions

Making decisions is the cognitive process of selecting one option over another, or over many others. Look at it like a puzzle, or even a chess game.  You have to look ahead and decide how one move will affect the remaining ones.  Think of decision making as a problem-solving exercise.  Make logical choices that will lead to a desired outcome.

Not Everyone Will Agree

Making decisions is not always a team sport.  Everyone has their own opinion, and the way they would like to see things go.  Yes, it is important for you to know what those opinions are, but the actual decision should be made by you.  Hearing all sides will give you a better overall picture; however, as manager, your purpose is to make decisions that are in the best interest of the company. Others may only be making decisions which better them personally.

Decide and Move Forward

As a manager you make decisions every day, and those decisions affect your team and your company.  This responsibility can cause an extreme amount of stress.  You need to manage your decisions just like you would manage anything else – create and execute a plan of action.

When executing your plan, it is important to stay focused.  Lack of focus results in poor decisions.  Only consider moves that lead to your end goal.  Set time limits and then move on to the next decision.  Time limits help you stay on track and keep you from second guessing yourself.

Worry is a Useless Reaction

“Worry is like a rocking chair – it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere”, so said Van Wilder.  A fictional character, perhaps, but a true statement nonetheless.  Worry is just another distraction.  Focus on things you can control and what will benefit from your time.  Free up your time by leveraging your team and delegating your busy work.

Learn from Your Past Mistakes

We’ve all made them.  From the newbie out of college to the executive of a corporation.  Bad decisions are inevitable.  You have made both good and bad decisions in your past, so take the time to reflect on those decisions and learn from them.  Identify what worked and what did not.  Then, make any necessary adjustments and call on similarities that may assist you with your current choices.  This is how you develop your intuition, which will improve your ability to make “gut” decisions.


Say it with me – “Keep It Simple Silly” (sorry, I just can’t call people striving to be great ‘stupid’, even in this context).  Use common sense and do not over complicate.  Ask yourself if there is value in this decision and, if so, move forward.

When making the more important decisions, gather all of the facts.  Even if you are facing a deadline, a good decision is simply not possible without the facts.  Just be careful to balance out the time you take fact finding with your deadline.

In Closing

If there are no major repercussions from your decisions, make them and move on.  Do not get hung up on the little things.  Does it really matter what type of paper you order for the copy machine or what coffee you buy for the office?  Hmm…  maybe coffee does matter, but that is another decision for another day.  Right now, you have more important things to think about.  Go get ’em!

Selecting The Right Team Member for Advancement

Now that you are a manager, it is your job to scout out potential candidates for advancement within your company.  This is a great responsibility and must be treated as such.  You have to be fair to your team while keeping the company’s interests in mind.

Not Everyone is Management Material

We all have that rock star employee: in early, out late, meets or beats all deadlines…  just owns the position from day one.  All that still does not make them a fit for a management position.  You must know your team members – their ambitions, skills, and personalities – in order to determine the direction, they are destined for within the company.  When you are considering an employee for advancement, find evidence to support your decision then move forward.

Narrowing the Field

You have established your final candidates for a management position.  They are all “qualified” to take on the role, but do they understand it?  Have you been clear about the commitment which will be required?  Do they have the passion, drive, and desire that it takes?  More importantly, are they a good leader?  They need to have the knowledge, skills, and attitude to perform the job, but they also need to have superior people skills and the ability to lead.  The right person will have their own management style but will put the needs of the company first.

Management Takes More Than Book Smarts

Education and experience are important, but lack of either should not be grounds for dismissing someone as a possible manager.  Leadership development can happen in a number of ways.  Perhaps they held a leadership position in a club or coached a team. The most important thing is their ability to guide the team to success and that requires skills that go beyond education.

(They’ve Got) Personality

Personality is one of the most important things to look for in a candidate.  The way they get along with co-workers in their current position will speak volumes about their potential to lead.  If they are taking initiative and assisting others, chances are they will exercise that same team mentality as a manager.  Note their reaction when given constructive criticism.  If they take it in stride and implement the advice, they might be ready to make the move into management.  If not, it is not necessarily a deal breaker, they just might need more time to grow.

Don’t Rush It

You are not looking for a perfect person, you are looking for a person perfect for the job. You can’t rush this process.  Take your time and get to know the candidates beyond their resume.  Remember, someone once gave you a chance.  Now it is your turn.