How to Nurture an Efficient and Productive Office Team
Why is it that some office teams manage to regularly achieve goals and reach targets with no apparent signs of struggle or tension while other groups of staff constantly suffer setbacks, frustrations and disappointments?
Problems often arise when an office team consists of people who have been randomly placed together and left to organise themselves, with the expectation that things will work out well. This approach rarely works and it is worth taking time to plan out ways of finding the right staff, setting solid targets and ensuring clear communications.
The right staff
Selecting good employees is relatively easy when using well-established recruitment processes to ensure that applicants have the right qualifications, experience and personality to play a positive role in a company. It can be trickier, however, to decide the best role that each person should play within a team.
One successful team building technique is to assign roles according to predefined ‘competencies.’
After first deciding on the main qualities and expertise that will be required in a team, each potential member is then assessed to see what their top six or seven strengths are. It will be no good having, for example, an eight-person team made up of eight people who all have very strong leadership skills; some team members will be needed who are better at cooperation and following orders.
Similarly, an office team full of staff who are great at analysing and looking at small details needs to be offset by at least one member who is better at seeing the ‘big picture.’
Some competencies, such as coping with pressure, may be required by everyone in the team but others, such as sales skills, may only be required by one person. It could be said that team members are differently shaped puzzle pieces that need to be fitted together to make a perfect whole.
Setting solid targets
Team members work best when they know exactly what is expected of them and what they are trying to achieve. Roles and responsibilities should be clearly defined so that staff do not ‘tread on each other’s toes’ or overlap and duplicate work.
When staff know exactly what they are expected to accomplish and are given a timeframe in which to complete it, they are far more productive than if they are just given vague goals. This does not mean ‘micro-managing’ but instead involves setting clear expectations and goals that will give staff a sense of accomplishment when they are achieved.
It is a good idea to get everyone involved in setting targets, which will help with fostering team spirit while making sure that everyone is on the same page. Don’t forget, too, that targets are not set in stone and if, for some reason, it looks as though a target will not be met as expected, do not panic or despair but spend time finding out why. Get the whole team together to reassess the situation and to set new, mutually agreed targets.
For an office to run well, the lines of communication between everyone who works there need to be clear and unbroken. It is important to have an organisational chart that clearly set out all reporting relationships.
Knowing the chain of command and who reports to whom takes away conflict and confusion in any situation and ensures that vital information is not kept to one person but shared with relevant people within the team.
Another very useful communications tool is a staff development plan, which details how human resources will be used throughout the course of a project. Regular, face-to-face formal and informal team meetings should also be scheduled to give staff the opportunity to raise issues and flag up any potential problems.
The open discussion of ideas should be encouraged, and there should be constant, pro-active feedback within the team that includes recognition and praise as well as concerns.
When all these factors come together, it is highly likely that you will have a successful, productive and efficient office team. Add training and learning to raise interest levels and develop skills. This will nurture a successful team that will achieve success while remaining focused, motivated and challenged.