This post is contributed by Dean Mathews, CEO of OnTheClock.
With almost all day-to-day company functions being technology-dependent, it’s difficult to imagine an efficiently functioning workplace without an IT department.
So, it comes as no surprise that the advice market surrounding IT productivity is saturated. However, not all these tips are created equal. Some might actually be detrimental instead of beneficial to your IT team and business.
Why? According to a Zapier piece by Olivia Jardine:
“Putting too much pressure on yourself or your team to complete an ever-expanding list of daily to-dos could result in elongated working hours, stress, and eventually, burnout.”
Getting more things done is not the only end goal of productivity. It’s doing it in a way that is sustainable, smart, and cognisant to the wellbeing of tech professionals.
The good news: successful tech teams have been sharing productivity hacks that have worked for them.
Here are 7 ways you can increase your tech team’s productivity, from IT professionals themselves.
1. Make Work Meaningful
According to a survey by The Energy Project involving 12,000 respondents, team members who find purpose in their work reported 1.4 times higher workplace engagement, 1.7 times better job satisfaction, and are 3x more likely to stay with their current company.
You might be thinking, “Meaning? In IT? Are you kidding me?”
While it is true that working in IT isn’t readily associated with purpose or meaning, it doesn’t mean it can’t be. For example, make sure members of your IT department understand and appreciate how their work impacts the overall success of the company. If your tech team develops customer-facing products or services, give them facetime with your customers to show the positive impact due to their hard work.
2. Break Down Projects into Small, Manageable Tasks
One of the soundest and most sustainable productivity hacks, especially for IT teams, is to approach difficult tasks carefully and steadily.
IT projects are almost always big in scale. There are several moving parts and just reviewing all the things that need to be accomplished from Day 1 to project completion can be exhausting and daunting.
It’s important not to overwhelm your tech team by assigning too much work at once. As the project lead, break down the project into smaller, more manageable tasks. Do not move on to the next phase until everything is 100% completed. This doesn’t necessarily decrease the workload, but it puts your team in a more positive organised mindset which is crucial for sustained productivity.
3. Avoid Micromanagement and Reduce Reporting
Former Excella Consulting principal consultant and program management lead Jonathan Brusking articulated it perfectly:
"You hired smart, talented people because they could get the job done. Now let them do it."
Micromanagement paralyzes employees. Instead of getting things done, the thought that there’s a “Big Brother” watching their every move is counterproductive. Micromanagement kills creativity and deflates employee morale.
Likewise, there are a number of tech managers that overburden their team with reporting. If your team members are spending more than 10% of their workday to document what they’re doing, you’re wasting their time. As a win-win solution, you can invest in an automated time tracking software that allows your tech team to conveniently and accurately track their tasks.
4. Equip Your Team with Collaboration and Productivity Tools
You can’t expect a warrior to win a battle without the right weapons. The same goes for your IT department. If you don’t invest in the right tools that will encourage collaboration and increase their efficiency, don’t blame them if their productivity takes a slump.
Even the brightest tech professionals are only as good as the tools and resources they use daily. Investing in the right tools should be the cardinal productivity rule across all HR departments. It should be user-agnostic, intuitive, and easy to use. It should streamline communication and make collaboration among team members easy.
5. Simplify Processes and Eliminate Unnecessary Tasks
Once upon a time, there was a misplaced belief that more complex workflows are better, more sophisticated, and reflect how advanced a workplace is. The result? Tech teams were burdened with unnecessarily long procedures that made tech personnel unproductive.
Set aside time to revisit your workflows and check if there are processes that could be simplified, and if you can minimise several steps into fewer, more streamlined processes. If a specific task does not contribute to the goal at hand, figure out whether it can be simplified or removed. You can also ask your team for their recommendations on what tasks they believe are unnecessary to their jobs.
6. Don’t Underestimate Nourishment
Working in tech is draining — literally. After a half-day of coding or troubleshooting tech issues, the work could take a physical toll on your IT team.
It’s no wonder why a lot of companies like Google provide free food to their employees. It’s a simple gesture, but it goes a long way in keeping your team energized and maintaining your IT department’s productivity.
7. Provide Timely Feedback
Putting in hours at work just to find out that all the hard work did not contribute to the team’s goals is not only counterproductive, but it is also demoralizing. This is why timely feedback is important.
Giving timely feedback to tech professionals allows them to make the necessary adjustments so as not to waste time doing things that are not in line with the overall team objectives.
Likewise, recognize team members who are doing well. Positive reinforcement is a time-tested way to improve a team’s productivity.
Productive Tech Teams Lead to Successful Businesses
Improving productivity will continue to be an unending quest for tech teams. The responsibilities of tech departments will grow and become more complex over time. As such, productivity management strategies will also evolve, and the above tips will be relevant for years to come.
With vital business functions relying on a solid tech infrastructure, the productivity of your tech team is a key ingredient to the overall productivity and success of the entire workplace.
Dean Mathews is the founder and CEO of OnTheClock, an online employee time tracking app that helps over 8,000 companies all around the world track time.
Dean has over 20 years of experience designing and developing business apps.
He views software development as a form of art. If the artist creates a masterpiece, many peoples lives are touched and changed for the better.
When he is not perfecting time tracking, Dean enjoys expanding his faith, spending time with family, friends and finding ways to make the world just a little better. You can find Dean on LinkedIn.