A lack of direction on a project or poor time management can quickly derail your team’s overall output. Following the old adage that time is money, startup founders must recognize the importance of increasing productivity in a fast-paced and oftentimes distracting work environment.
Ten entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) share the rules they’ve implemented in their companies to ensure that simple distractions don’t turn into major delays (or worse).
1. Don’t communicate via instant message.
Instant messages, like G-chat, can be a huge drain on productivity because they take team members off task. Instead of IMs, our team uses Slack for all internal communication. Slack groups conversations across different channels by project/topic. Because the desktop app runs all the time, employees can check the app at pre-set intervals without being interrupted by disparate messages.--Brittany Hodak, ZinePak
2. Utilize open documents with communal authorship.
All documents created in our domain are made both public and editable by default. It’s easy for people to find, disseminate and update information. There are also no hassles with sharing, partisanship or silos of information. Furthermore, documents do not have a stated author: we choose to emphasize collaboration and working toward the best solution rather than defending individual positions or reputations.--AJ Shankar, Everlaw
3. Always have a meeting objective.
We start every meeting with the same question: "What is the objective of this meeting?" The person who calls the meeting is responsible for clearly stating the objective as well as making sure that the target objective is reached before the meeting ends. Having this objective in mind helps everyone stay on track and focused while working together in the most efficient manner.--Andrew Kucheriavy, Intechnic
4. Call first.
While picking up the phone and calling someone seems dated nowadays, our team certainly does it. During standard business hours, if the question is timely, we ask folks to communicate over the phone. You avoid the delay of email and can usually get to the heart of the matter much more quickly. Plus, it’s less easy for sentiments to get lost in translation.--Sam Davidson, Batch
5. Share feedback on everything.
You’ll often hear employees refer to the resources that they need to do a better job. I always ask my team to share their feedback and encourage them to have a logical discussion of why they may need a tool or service to do a better job. This has led to some incredible new additions in technology, apps and even hiring.--Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now
6. Do it now (if it takes less than 2 minutes).
Avoid the dreaded “I’ll get back to you” statement and similarly the flagging of email messages that only require you re-reading the message to understand what needs to be done. If can you can write a response in less than two minutes, which is common for most emails, then take action immediately. Why have an unresolved issue swirling around in your memory? Do it now, knock it off your mental list and move on!--David Ciccarelli, Voices.com
7. Work in four-hour time blocks.
Our remote team can choose to work whenever and wherever they like, but we find that asking them to work in time blocks of four hours equals greater productivity. When you work remotely, it’s tempting to work for 20 minutes here and there, but that’s not really enough time to get into the flow. Working in longer chunks and only taking short breaks for basic necessities gets more done faster.--Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com
8. Hold morning Scrum meetings.
Every day, our teams have Scrum meetings. These meetings are a dynamic, holistic approach to product development where teams come together to reach a common goal. Regular Scrums keep employees accountable to tasks and help them to be more productive.--Mike Seiman, CPXi
9. Structure meetings strategically.
Many firms make the mistake of holding inefficient, hours-long meetings that accomplish very little. What they fail to realize is that this is an enormous waste of money (since you are paying each employee to essentially do nothing), and that meetings can actually be incredibly productive if done correctly. To avoid inefficiency at LexION Capital, I implement strict roles for meetings.--Elle Kaplan, LexION Capital
10. Have an open communication policy.
We encourage our entire team to voice their opinions, challenges, concerns and thoughts as freely as possible on a daily basis. If they need to chat with someone briefly, we want them to talk face-to-face and solve the problem at hand. They should not feel worried about speaking to our CEO openly to get work done, which has made project completion much faster and much more of a group effort.--Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com