Increasing productivity in lean teams.

Some of our largest companies started out in garages, living rooms and coffee shops across the country.  If your dream is to take your company to a national or international business, before you start to scale up you need to master the art of making your current lean team agile and run as if you have already reached that target.

Maximising your workforce is the way forward.  However, as you read this you will probably be thinking that there is always more work than people to do it!  Moving away from this mindset and getting the most out of your small team is the way forward, but how?

We believe there are several small changes you can make to your working day which will make a huge difference to the efficiency of your business.  Here are our thoughts:

Go meeting-free!

Meetings are the bugbear of every business!  Try blocking out an entire day each week on everyone’s calendar as a meeting-free day.  Trial it for a month or so and see how you all get on.  It will give everyone on your team an entire day to work undisturbed and it will allow them to focus on how they work best.  Within our team, some people prefer a one-hour lunch and others prefer a couple of half-hour breaks. Understanding how they work best allows them to manage their time effectively and increases productivity as they do not feel obliged to keep at it when they feel they are fading. 

Automate or outsource

As a small business or a small team in a bigger business, resources and specific expertise are likely to be limited.  It makes sense to use the expert resources in your team to the best effect:  you can automate or outsource the tasks which are not within their expertise and would take more time for them to do than is wise.  Of course, this approach costs but it allows your employees to do more productive and meaningful work pushing your business towards your goals.


As part of a small team, it is highly likely that individuals will be doing more than one job.  If you ask any member of a small team what they do, they will invariably give you a whole list of responsibilities, some of which will be close to their job role and others will just have come their way.  As the team and business grow, it is also likely that some employees will jump at the chance of taking on more responsibility and will rise to any occasion which will allow them to learn more.

This informal type of training is invaluable for your business, but it is no substitute for formal training.  If you have an employee or employees who show an interested in expanding their skills, why not invest in them by seeking out and subsidising training opportunities.

Be flexible

For a small team, trust is about the most important asset it can have.  It only takes one person undermining the team goals, or not putting in the effort, to send everything out of kilter.  It could be that this person needs you to respect their individuality and individual needs.  They might need some flexibility to get the best out of them.  For instance, if you have a parent who is constantly struggling with school timings, why not offer them some opportunities to change their hours or work from home on occasion?  Another example springs to mind regarding community: sitting in a traffic queue for an hour each end of the day is a mind-blowing waste of time.  Why not allow employees to come up with a ‘make-your-own-hours’ policy so they can perhaps come in earlier and leave earlier, or if they prefer to come in late and work late?

Smaller businesses can often be much more flexible and agile than a larger corporation which will invariably have established layers of bureaucracy.  A small team leader can help employees feel empowered to take ownership of their work, which in turn encourages productivity, motivation and efficiency.

Be clear

Share your end vision with clear, smaller goals as you go along. If the goals posts move for any reason, explain to your teams why and how the business will change direction.  In a small and growing business there is always so much to do – getting everyone on board with a clear and shared focus is vital, so make sure you celebrate each time you hit those goals! 

If you are interested in taking your leadership skills to the next stage as you grow your business, invest in yourself with our ‘Develop your leadership brand’ or ‘Perform at my  best’ programmes.

Both are aimed at executives and leaders who want to learn more about how they work, understand how their actions impact their team and how to fuel high performance in their work and home life. Both programmes include 1:1 sessions with your programme coach and robust, but practical and achievable action plans.

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