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10 Things Productive Teams Don’t Do

10 Things Productive Teams Don’t Do

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.

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.

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Chris Haigh

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

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Published on January 7, 2021

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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  1. Respect deadlines
  2. Understand the work-flow plan
  3. Build in time to mess up

1. Respect Deadlines

Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

3. Build in Time to Mess Up

You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

1. Learn to Listen Well

You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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3. Follow Rules

Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

4. Take Notes

Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

9. Minimize Distractions

It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

10. Take Breaks

It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

11. Make Time for Reflection

At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

Final Thoughts

Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

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