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10 Things Productive Teams Don’t Do

10 Things Productive Teams Don’t Do
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Productive teams are the proverbial golden goose for a work environment. Everyone wants to produce a team that is effective, healthy, and always working at a productive maximum. However, finding this place of productive ‘flow’ can be exceptionally hard to pin down, particularly when you’re dealing with a big team, with conflicting personalities, goals, and roles within the team. It’s no easy task finding that balance between happiness and efficiency.

So, if you want to know what those lucky productive teams do in order to be at their productive, happy best, then check out our guide to what productive teams avoid doing, and see if you can be the change you want to be in your own workplace.

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1. They Don’t Rush Blindly In

One of the best and most important assets of a productive and useful team is that each and every member takes time to think clearly about what they’re doing before rushing blindly into a new situation or task. A solid, productive team has a cool head and a calm manner in approaching new situations. They react, think, and then take proactive actions, all while planning ahead and considering what the best course of action might be. If you’re looking to make your team more productive, then encourage them to stop, think, and then act, rather than rushing in blind.

2. They Don’t Argue Over Responsibilities

One of the biggest productivity drains involved in teamwork is the delegation of responsibilities and the division of labour among an entire team. Yes, everyone has their duties, but a productive team has every single member picking up any slack and handling their own portion of duties without complaining, whining, or negotiating. A productive team works only when every member of that team knows their responsibilities and duties and does them. It’s as simple as that.

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3. They Don’t Inhibit Each Other’s Growth

Is there anything less productive and more destructive than colleagues who hold one another back? Not much. A team needs to be a cohesive unit, but more than that, it needs to be a supportive home for members, in order to help facilitate their own personal growth and development. Being a constrictive force within your own team is not only a patently cruel and selfish thing to do, it’s also a big hurdle to cross over for your whole team. Sitting down with every team member and ensuring that their own personal and professional goals and development are being met, is a great way to make sure everyone is on the same page and creating a supportive, buoying environment for everyone on the team.

4. They Don’t Gossip

Let’s face it, gossiping is one of the biggest problems happening daily in the global workplace, It’s destructive, it’s petty, and it’s very unproductive, leading to an unfocused and divided team. A focused, productive team has their bonds and their discussion points, but they never let it derail a day or a meeting, and keep things focused. In fact, they try and save a lot of their socialising for after work, when they get a chance to unwind and relax, away from the stresses of work.

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5. They Don’t Become Obsessed With Email

Email is one of those double-edged swords of the modern workplace. Yes, it’s useful and a wonderful tool and device, but it can also be extremely addictive and time-consuming, checking your email every five minutes rather than knuckling down and getting into that special sweet spot of ‘flow’ that often describes working to your productive peak. Productive teams try and make email something that they check on a semi-regular, and regimented, basis. No aimless flickering around deleting spam here. They clear and sort their emails quickly for later reading, and deal with urgent messages quickly when it’s needed. Cut down on unnecessary email time and your team will soon be humming with productivity.

6. They Don’t Have Too Many Meetings

Meetings can really slow down a team’s productivity, and while it can be nice to catch up and work every single minutiae of every aspect of your work together,having way too many meetings can really slow down on actually getting work done. It’s not that meetings themselves are full of useless chatter or such, it’s more that blocking out a good hour or so per meeting, can really make your day a stop-start affair. You get into the flow of some work, only to find yourself having to go to a string of meetings about unrelated projects or queries that make it that much harder to get back into the swing of things. Productive teams have their meetings, but only when necessary and no more than one or two a day.

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7. They Don’t Neglect Their Needs

The concept of working these days hasn’t moved on much since the 80s- we’re all in a struggle to work harder, faster, and more productively than ever before. However, for a team, working hard all the time can actually stop them from being at their productive peak. Truly productive teams are more aware of their flaws and foibles and take time out of their day in order to take a break and properly rejuvenate. A productive team uses all of their lunch break, takes walks around parks, and does stuff completely unrelated to work in their lunch hour. Taking a break isn’t a weakness for a productive team – it’s a strength.

8. They Don’t Hide Their Concerns

A productive team don’t hide things from one another, particularly when it comes to the important stuff such as when to address an issue, or raising concerns about a potential problem or concern at work. Hiding things helps no one, and if you work in an office that is all about working through specific chains of operations and processes, hiding problems or queries is incredibly detrimental towards the effective and productive working of the team. Keep things open and honest with your work colleagues and teams and you’ll be able to resolve issues quicker and be more productive and happier as a result.

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9. They Don’t Take Work Home With Them

One of the most productive things that a team can do is to leave their work behind them in the office and keep the realms of work and home as separate as possible. A productive team socializes after work but they make sure to focus on their other – and many would say vastly more important – aspects of their lives, such as home and love and family and leisure. If you’re fixated on work all the time, it means you are unable to gain perspective and enjoy a full and well-rounded life, which in turns negatively impacts upon your workplace and productivity. Don’t think you’re earning brownie points by working overtime instead of going home and sleeping – chances are you’ll be performing worse over time as a result.

10 They Don’t Fail To Work Hard and Be Kind

The most important thing a team can do in order to be truly successful and productive is to work hard and be kind. It sounds sort of simplistic, but it really does work wonders on even the most unproductive teams. Working hard is key to being part of a successful and productive team, but being kind is equally vital. Being kind helps a team function, allowing team members to rely on one another for reciprocity and for altogether strong team functioning. The old maxim of ‘work hard and be kind’ is more apt than you know, and if you want to transform your team into a productive powerhouse, this lesson is the most important ideal to implement.

More by this author

Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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