• Dmitry Davydov 21 July 2014
    Neen James is a high energy, Aussie leadership expert focused on productivity who delivers engaging programs that have educated, and entertained audiences with real-world strategies that apply in all roles at work and home. The author of Folding Time™ and Secrets of Super Productivity, Neen also provides one-on-one mentoring to leaders. We talked to Neen about team productivity strategies that work.

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    We see that simple things like replacing emails with group chat or private social network can significantly increase team productivity. What other simple, cheap and quick to implement things can companies do to receive immediate and noticeable productivity boost?


    Use the phone no one does that anymore!  A phone call can save multiple emails and meetings.  Leverage social media tools and text messaging. It keeps conversations short and targeted.

    Group meetings – how often should one hold them, how long should they be and do you even need them?

    This is a tough question because unfortunately it ‘depends’. I advocate for 15 minute standing meetings. Asking people to stand keeps everyone on track and avoids people talking too long. 15 minutes is the key to productivity and the key to productive meetings.  Ask your team how often they want/need to meet and be guided by them. Don’t hold meetings for the sake of holding a meeting. During the holidays and busy seasons cancel all unnecessary meetings.

    Companies are relying more on remote employees and teleworkers. Some claim that it reduces productivity, like Yahoo. First, do you agree and second, can you share some tips about managing distributed teams effectively?

    I don’t agree that remote or teleworking reduces productivity. For the individual it often accelerates their personal productivity. ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is often the case for those working remotely.

    When managing remote team members leverage technology, especially video. Video calls keep people focused (as they are less likely or able to multitask and clear emails while they are speaking with you) and video is an engagement tool. Schedule regular touch points, one on ones so that you can help everyone stay connected to the business and the culture of the team.  Vary your communication to include email, phone calls, video, and face-to-face meetings. Where possible schedule a face to face meeting for the entire team to connect.

    A great number of social productivity tools appeared on the market within the past few years – social intranets, enterprise social networks, and social collaboration platforms. What do you make of this trend and how do you see it developing further?
    It will increase. Building apps and platforms is now easier than ever before and customization will increase.  Everyone wants to be able to get more done. In our book Folding Time™: How to Achieve Twice As Much in Half the Time, we share strategies on how to manage time, focus attention and leverage energy. It’s vital we filter our decisions and choices on a daily basis and review our workflow to ensure we are investing time, attention and energy in the right activities. Collaboration tools will assist us to do this.  There is also a movement back towards low-tech productivity solutions – some companies are instituting no email days, email free hours, no technology allowed in meetings, using note paper/flip charts instead of PowerPoint. People feel overworked, overwhelmed and overstressed because of some technology/email/meetings… moving back to high-touch instead of high-tech is resulting in increased productivity for some.

    Standards, protocols, routines – a lot of expert advise to create standard procedures that employees should follow and claim that this increases worker productivity. But workers say that it kills their productivity, increases turnover and so on. How do you find balance between the two?

    Systems create freedom. Systemize and templatizing processes can create efficiencies for many companies - that can be very productive. When a more creative solution is required it is beneficial to get outside of routine and process to encourage free thought and collaboration. Balance occurs when you determine if it is an everyday process or procedure versus a new creative brainstorming opportunity.  

    Thank you, Neen!

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    See also:

    - 5 Simple Things You Can Do to Generate More Incoming Leads
    - Typical cold calling mistakes and how to avoid them
    - 5 Simple Things You Can Do to Improve Workplace Productivity
    - Intranet review checklist – seven must-have features for ANY intranet
    Tags: productivity, expert
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