Boost Productivity in Your Creative Team
Creative agencies are unique in that they handle large volumes of projects, clients, and tasks on a daily basis. This type of environment easily overwhelms employees and makes it difficult to stay focused, as they are constantly jumping around from project to project. Not to mention, stress is one of the biggest contributors to decreased productivity. If your employees are stressed and overwhelmed, you will find it very difficult to get things done.
That being said, there are several tips and tricks you can implement with your team to help boost productivity and make for a company culture and environment that breeds creativity and results. Browse through our list of tips and try some out with your team!
1. Break up projects.
This tip relies on the principle of “small wins”. A huge project with an unclear schedule of tasks is an ominous black cloud in employees’ minds and discourages productivity. People are more encouraged and feel more accomplished when they can cross small tasks off of their list. Instead of presenting the entire project as one big task, delegate smaller tasks within the project to multiple team members. Play up your employees’ strengths and be sure to give tasks to those who will complete them most effectively. But also, don’t be afraid to give tasks to those who are looking to improve their skills in a certain area. If you have the time and capacity to delegate the task to someone new, you’ll begin to grow your arsenal of team members that you can choose from in the future.
2. Create a system of accountability.
When you and the team are relying on someone to get something done, it encourages their willpower to work harder and better. People don’t want to let others down, and assigning responsibility to others will make them feel like they are important and part of the team.
3. Analyze your communication methods.
This is a big one and covers a lot of ground. How do you communicate with your team? Do you rely on meetings? Do you send multiple emails throughout the day? Are you constantly briefing employees on their tasks and next steps? Communication is vital to creative projects, but it can also be a huge time sucker if it’s done improperly. Ask your employees to track how long they spend on emails every day (a huge distraction and time waster). If it’s more than 1-2 hours per day, something is wrong. And if you’re spending more time in meetings and catching people up than actually doing your work, it’s time to reevaluate how you communicate to your team. There are a few things you can do to improve this:
a. Implement an in-office messaging system. There are several third-party messaging systems you can use these days, such as Slack, to communicate quickly and effectively with team members. There are also several project management software applications that include in-app messaging systems that help keep all of your collaboration and jobs in one place, like Jobsuite.
b. Set clear goals in meetings. Never show up to a meeting without clearly defined goals. Only include the team members who need to be there and table anything that gets off topic. Schedule another meeting to resolve other issues not associated with the goals of the meeting at hand. Try to create a meeting agenda to send to members before the meeting, so that the team can start thinking about the topics to be covered and be ready with questions when the time comes. Be sure to always end meetings with the next steps or action items or else no one will act upon what was discussed. Be ready with the right questions to avoid having to spend additional time after the meeting asking members if they have everything they need.
c. Set standards of communication. Determine the best way to communicate for your unique workflow and make sure that everyone uses the same procedures. Use technology to your advantage with this one. For example, JobSuite has the ability to create templates outlining tasks for different types of projects. Every time your team is assigned a “brochure”, you can import the brochure schedule template and easily assign tasks to team members with the click of a button. Communicate in-app and upload revisions and documents to the job within the software to keep everything associated with the job in one organized place.
d. Constantly update your team with priorities. When you’re at the mercy of your clients, priorities can change fast. Get in the habit of organizing a quick 5-minute meeting or sending a quick email every morning outlining the priorities and top level tasks for the day. This will help keep team members on schedule and get the most important jobs done first. Project management software can also help with this by organizing automatically-updated, custom dashboards which lets employees view their tasks, due dates, schedules, and any changes that have been made in timelines every day.
4. Automate time tracking.
The last thing your team wants to do is track their time. Make sure you are using an application that can easily track time for your employees. It’s vital to track the hours you spend on different tasks and projects to make sure you don’t overload your team, but if it’s a hassle to track time, your employees will never do it. Applications like Freshbooks have timers that you can start and stop when you switch projects that help employees easily keep track of their time accurately.
5. Evaluate your office environment.
It’s truly amazing how much of an effect our environments have on productivity, and that doesn’t just mean the physical environment (although that plays a big part too). There are several ideas to take into consideration when analyzing your office environment.
a. Say goodbye to the open floor plan. Employees feel less comfortable interacting with others when they fear the entire office is listening to their conversation. And on the flip side of that, constant noise and activity distracts employees and makes it difficult to focus. If you can’t completely rearrange your office space, try to incorporate some “quiet spaces” in your office where employees can go to work, free of distraction.
b. Make your office a place employees want to be. Hang motivational posters on the walls. Stock up on coffee, tea, and healthy snacks to keep your employees going throughout the day. Make use of natural light, which helps increase productivity and focus. Incorporate nature into your office with plants and natural landscapes. Just having access to nature in an office increases attention and productivity. Encourage team building and bonding. A team that knows each other will be more comfortable interacting with each other. Encourage friendships and laughter in the office. It’s been shown that a large percentage of people are motivated by a good mood, which can be accomplished through team culture. Try feng shui and add productive colors into your work environment. Blue is relaxing, yellow promotes creativity, and green encourages calm feelings. Bold colors are stimulating and neutral colors are relaxing.
c. Encourage movement! Getting up and walking around for 5-10 minutes every hour increases productivity and recharges your body. You can also offer yoga classes or put together yoga poses employees can do at their desks to help keep the blood flowing and productivity boosted throughout the day.
d. Host or offer productivity workshops with your team. Chances are, your team members are interested in increasing their productivity as much as you, and will appreciate course offerings. You can also send weekly or monthly productivity tips via email, especially when the office is in a lull and needs some encouragement.
6. Always recognize achievements and show your appreciation.
Studies have shown that employees would prefer constant recognition for their achievements to higher salaries. A little goes a long way here. Give praise for everything, and give constructive and meaningful feedback where needed. If employees feel appreciated, they will work harder and try to learn more to progress their career and your business.
7. Ask your team.
Your team knows best when it comes to what distracts them or helps them be more productive. Ask them if there are any improvements you can make as a manager to help increase productivity. Having an open conversation about management techniques will help employees feel heard and also gives you insight into how they perceive your management practices.
8. Analyze mistakes and learn from them.
It’s important to always review what went wrong (and what went right!) in a project to learn from you mistakes in order to avoid making them again in the future. You will never increase productivity by making the same mistakes over and over, so be sure to take time to evaluate how to avoid roadblocks and bottlenecks.
So like a good manager, we’re asking you to take action! Try out at least one of these new methods to boost productivity in your team today and let us know your results in the comments!
Have any other ideas to boost productivity? Comment below with tips or tricks that have helped your team!