How to Boost Team Productivity: Tips on Managing Employees

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How To Increase Team Productivity?

Employees are the backbone of any company. They bring the vision of the company to life and help it to succeed. They are usually a company's greatest asset; with them, you can achieve great things. 

However, as is often the case with such things, employees can be your greatest liability or tool if not managed properly.

When you're working with a team, everyone has a role that they play. The people who work for your company are no different from those in any other group—they need direction, motivation, and encouragement so they can do their best work for you.

Today, we're going to talk about how to increase team productivity, the importance of dealing with employees, communication with employees, SOP, and hiring.

Read the Full Transcript

Atiba de Souza: My guest today is a master at helping us business owners become more productive. So today on the Build Your Team show, get ready to meet Cristina from Bee Productive. And as always, we are brought to you by Client Attraction Pros.

Welcome to build your team. Today I have Cristina from Bee Productive and if the name doesn't tell you enough already, we are going to learn today about how we can be more productive with our teams, because it's not just good enough to have a team and they're wasting time and money. They need to be productive. And that's what Cristina is awesome at helping us to do. So, Cristina, first and foremost, welcome to the show.

Cristina Samoila: Thank you very much for having me. It's an honor to be here.

Atiba de Souza: Awesome. Now, I told you before the show I was gonna pick on you. Okay. And so I hope you're ready. So everyone we call Cristina from Bee Productive because I can't say her last name. However, the way she says is that absolutely gorgeous. So I'm gonna pick on her Cristina please. How do you say your last name?

Cristina Samoila: You're literally the first and only person to say that I'm saying it in a gorgeous way, but my last name is Cristina Samoila 

Atiba de Souza: it is. y'all I don't know about ya'll. Leave it in the comments, if you do think she put it in a gorgeous way. So that I'm not the first and only one. 

Cristina Samoila: Just leave comments with recording yourself, saying my last name, just to make it into a comedy show.

Atiba de Souza: If ya'll can do that, that'll be even better. All right. So Cristina, Bee Productive. First, I love the new website. I know you got it redone recently and the new one is awesome but tell us a little bit about Bee Productive. 

Cristina Samoila: Bee Productive was born last year out of necessity rather than anything else. I just got tired of freelancing on my own, and I'm like, "Yo, I'm gonna start building a team. It is time to do this." Then, I was listening to a song and it had bees in it. So I'm like, " Bees. Bee Productive", and it was born. 

Atiba de Souza: How about that? So, I'm a business owner and we're gonna talk about business owners and teams and stuff and being productive. I've hired a small team. Maybe I've got three, four people working for me.

How do I know if they're being productive or not? Because I may feel like they're doing the work. I'm paying them.

Cristina Samoila: It starts a little bit with how you personally define productivity because depending on how you personally define it, there are ways to measure it. There are ways to attach some KPIs to what you feel is the most important criteria that your team should work towards. That is something that somebody else has asked me for the first time very recently is, "What is productivity?"

And I'm like, "Huh, that's such an interesting question", and I talk about productivity a lot but I somehow never really thought to give it a definition.

Atiba de Souza: Okay.

Cristina Samoila: Of course you'll find one in the dictionary, obviously. So you said, you feel like your people are working, are delivering on their timelines and everything.

If the most important thing to you is that things get done and get done in time, then you are probably gonna be defining your productivity by some very simple KPIs. If you manage your tasks in a project management system, then all you need to do is like, "Hey, this person, I have assigned five tasks to them this week. How many of them were delivered before the due date?" All of them. Check mark. This person is being productive. And of course, if you wanna take it one step further and know how well you are utilizing the resources of every member of your team, then it can be like, "Hey, if this person is working for me full time, then I expect them to work a certain number of hours per week."

Maybe it's not quite 40 so you don't overwork them too much, but maybe it is 30, 35 or something like that. So you can track that as well, be like, "Hey. This team member has delivered everything on time this week, but they've only worked like 10 hours." That means that they have a lot more capability, so I can assign more work to them.

They're delivering on time. They're not overworked. They have availability so I can assign more stuff to them, or they have delivered everything on time, but they work 35 hours. So I'm like, "Okay, this was like quite the limits. You're good." Or the KPIs are under the target and you need to have a conversation, be like, "Hey, has something happened in your life that got you a little bit distracted? Or did I assign you something I didn't provide the right support for you to be able to do it? Did you not have anybody you could ask for help? What happened?"

Atiba de Souza: Yeah. That's great and I think it's really easy to deal with the good case, right? I assigned you five things and told you do it this week and you got it done this week and you spent 35 hours and I expected you to spend 40. Wonderful. Or the five things you spend 10 hours "Oh, you can do more. Wonderful."

But that's the third case of "Hey, I assigned you stuff and yet what you produced was not what I expected and it took longer than I thought. I actually had this. I'm gonna tell you situation that happened just last night for me. I wanna talk to you about this, in terms of how you would handle it? And, what comes next?

I assigned a task, went through and described a task and walked through a task with someone. They knew that they had seven hours to complete this task and there was a certain output that was required after the seven hours. It was a bit of a research and data entry sort of task for fair explanation, if you will.

After two and a half hours, they had reached 10% of it done on a seven hour task. And so, I said, "Huh?" Now, from a productivity point of view, I'm gonna ask you the expert. How would you handle this situation? I can tell you what I did later but from the expert, how would you handle this situation?

Cristina Samoila: Usually when somebody under delivers, the first person I look towards is myself. So, I'm gonna start wondering, "Hey, did I give this person enough instructions? Did I give them enough time? Was it even realistic that they could have done this task to my expectations in seven hours? Or did I give them a timeline that was just not possible?"

If both of these are correct and be like, "Yes, I gave you the right amount of instructions. Yes, I did give you enough time to perform the task." Then, I will have to wonder like, "Hey, did this person have enough experience to complete the task in the same amount of time that I would've completed the task?"

Because if you told somebody that you had seven hours to complete a task. You probably got that number from somewhere. You didn't just pull it out of thin air. So, it's either you, yourself had done the task before and you know it took you seven hours or maybe you had hired somebody else before, you knew it took them seven hours.

So somebody at some point I'm assuming took seven hours to do this task. But the question is, were they a lot more experience? Did they have a lot more experience doing this task? Did we take that into consideration when we assigned it to this new person? Because every time you do something for the first time, it's gonna take you significantly longer than it would somebody who's like senior at doing it. That's just how it happens. So, once you are able to diagnose what happened there and it can even be like, maybe it's not your fault. Right? You diagnose everything that you might have done wrong and if it turns out, "Hey, you didn't do anything wrong", then you go to the other person and be like, "Hey, I needed seven hours of your time. Maybe you just had other commitments and you weren't able to give me seven hours of focused undivided attention, kind of time. So maybe there was some miscommunication out there. Maybe I didn't set the expectation properly that I would need you to really focus on this and nothing else for the next seven hours. If I did that, I apologize, but please tell me how should I make this clear next time so that you and I are on the same page, and then take it from there." 

I find it very hard to believe that there's anybody who would like maliciously not do the work they've been assigned. So, I typically don't go there and be like, "Why didn't you do it? Did you try to hurt me?" Come on, typically that doesn't happen. If something happened, then it's either my fault for not providing enough clarity or something happened on their end, that was either unpredictable or a bad management of expectations on their end. But both of these can be resolved via communication.

I think the right thing — you said after two and a half hours, you saw that they had completed only 10% of the task. Did they communicate and be like, "Hey, this is taking longer than expected. I need more time." Or did you have to do the digging and find that out yourself?

Atiba de Souza: So in this case, I actually had to do the digging. It was a third party that let me know because there was a third party who was waiting for the result of the task, and didn't have enough to do their task, which alerted me to the challenge.

Cristina Samoila: Okay. So that is another thing that you can tell this person, be like, "Hey, if you see a task is taking you a lot longer than either of us predicted," — because they may have gone into this with the best intention of getting you done in seven hours and with the best confidence that they were able to do it.

It's just that sometimes as you start doing, you'd realize something feels a little bit different. Something comes up that's not like the other 10,000 times you did it before and you realize at some point, it's gonna take you longer than expected. But then, it is your responsibility as the provider of the work to communicate that ahead of time so that the other person, the person was waiting on the work has a chance to do whatever stuff they need to do in the background to account for that. So, that is again, communication.

Atiba de Souza: Communication is key. The thing that I love and I hope that you guys are hearing this from Cristina here as well is, as leaders, when things don't go right, the place that we need to point the finger to first is ourselves. We need to say, "Okay, was there something that I did wrong here?", before we go pointing the finger at someone else, before we go assuming that — as Cristina said that they were just out to get me. 

That maybe it was something that I miscommunicated or that in my communication, they misunderstood. And, let's try to see how we can find that. I'm gonna tell you what happened, Cristina. I'm gonna call it a hysterical story. A very funny story in the end. So, this staff person was again doing research. They needed to produce a list of a certain thing. Now, the precursor task was to find people or find websites that aggregated that certain thing, and then go through those and create the list that we were looking for. Here's what she misunderstood. She thought she could only find one from each site.

So, I'm like, "No, this aggregate atleast has 9,000 and we only need 200. You could have just gone through this one alone and gotten the 200 that we needed, and she thought she had to go to each one. And so, that's what was taking her forever because she went through the list and was like, "I don't know where else to go."

So again, it was a miscommunication. She misunderstood.

Cristina Samoila: And we miscommunicated as well.

Atiba de Souza: Let's talk about that. I assume that one of the really big things — and this is I'm saying, I assume but I know this of you — that you help people with is SOPs.

Cristina Samoila: That's a fair assumption. I would say, yeah.

Atiba de Souza: I'm saying that because I know she's got a stack of SOPs, like this bit.

Cristina Samoila: Actually it's bigger.

Atiba de Souza: Oh, this big. Ya'll can't see my hands, so big. Where do SOPs play in into productivity?

Cristina Samoila: Pretty much everywhere. If you delegate a task without having an SOP, it's gonna take you two times longer to communicate everything to the person because instead of working off of a checklist, you're gonna be like, "W hat did this person need to do? My website? I think they need my logo. I don't know if they did anything else." You're gonna sign them the task and say, "Hey, I need this done in a week", and they're gonna take two days to look over the task and then they're gonna look, "I'm missing something, actually. Can you send me this other thing?", and then it's gonna take you a few hours to see the email. Then you're gonna be like, "Let me send you this", and then it's take them a lot longer to see the email you apply to. The timeline becomes a lot longer. Then, the final deliverable — think about a restaurant. If a restaurant wants to open another location, the people who love the first location naturally expect the same amount of quality and tasty food and dining experience as the first location when they go to the second one.

And, the only way — you won't be able to have the same cook, cooking into places at the same time. So you're gonna have to hire another cook. If the second cook doesn't know how the other one did the recipes, there's no way that the food will end up the same, because they won't know the ingredients. They won't know the preparation instructions. They won't know what pot to use and whatever. 

It is exactly the same concept, as if you are opening another restaurant. You have to document all of your recipes and give them to the second cook and watch him do the food until they cook the same food that you do.

You have them do the food by following the recipe. You taste it at the end and be like, "Yes, this tastes exactly like how mine does. You're good. We opened the location. It is not the same. Let's see where did it go wrong? Was there a step that I missed in the recipe? Did I tell you to add two teaspoons and you added two tablespoons of salt?" So, you check the recipe, you check that they follow the instructions and then you'd be like, "Okay. What did I do wrong?"

Atiba de Souza: Right. So, SOP is a key. You've got a huge stack of them. When you work with your clients, do you come in and do you help them develop their own SOPs? Or do you give them your SOPs? Are SOPs one size fit all for every organization because you're doing X task? 

Cristina Samoila: It depends a little bit. It's usually a mix of both. Usually because my clients tend to be in the coaching and consulting in agency space, there are a lot of SOPs that are transmittable. You are able to use some of them. You may have to tweak them a little bit to make them work for your workflow. But, there will be of course some SOPs that are specific to how you do your things.

It's usually a mix of both. If I find that I have SOPs that they can just stake out of the box and just tweak them a little bit, and then they hit the ground running, I provide them with those to give them like a quick win. Let's say 50% of the job is already done. I only have one more half of work to do so I'm like, "Yes, please. I have SOPs for SOPs."

Atiba de Souza: That's awesome. Everyone watching, business owners we have teams —and we've talked about this, a ton on this channel — the need for SOPs and the need for systems and the need for processes. For someone who is new in business, who probably or maybe has never done SOPs before, is it better for them to work with Cristina at Bee Productive? Or try it on their own first and then come to you? How do you prefer your clients come to you?

Cristina Samoila: It depends a little bit because I've experienced both. I've experienced people who have tried to do their own SOPs before, and they were a little bit of a hot mess because they haven't really done it before. They didn't have anybody to run them by before. So, I basically had to start it all over.

But there have been people who have been able to document their processes just fine without me and all they needed was like a pair of eyes, just look over it, make sure it hits all of the right points. It's usually just very useful to have somebody to look at an SOP. Somebody who's not involved in that process on a day to day basis.

That is a definition of battle-testing in SOP. If you are able to give me an SOP for a test that I have never done before in my life, and I'm able to do it off of your instructions, then that is a winning SOP.

Atiba de Souza: That's a two thumbs up SOP. We've hit the nail on the head.

Cristina Samoila: But, if somebody wants to try and do their own— I've actually recently discovered a couple of very useful tools to create SOPs very easily. Because, a lot of people, as they're going through a task, they have it all, subconsciously ingrained how to do it. That when they have to actually sit down and write how to do it, it's like, "I almost can't. I almost don't know how I'm doing it."

It's usually easier for them to just do it and record themselves as they do it, and then document it afterwards off of the video. So, I discovered a tool called Tango recently who paired with Loom. I feel like a lot of people will know Loom, the video recording, screen recording software.

It has sped up my SOP creation significantly because I just turned both on. Loom will give me the video instructions basically because I'm recording myself as I do it and Tango actually watches what you do on screen and writes the instructions and takes screenshots for you. So at the end, you might have to tweak some words a little bit or delete some extra steps.

Maybe you've gone back and forth through a menu a couple of times before you found the option or whatever. You can clean it up a little bit, but it does like the bulk of the work for you.

Atiba de Souza: That's awesome. So guys, we talk here a lot about the fact that if you're going to hire a team, you've got to have the processes and the SOPs ready for them before they show up, not after. Cristina just gave us a major shortcut of pairing Loom and Tango together to get that process started.

Cristina Samoila: My SOP pack that you mentioned before, I think that would be most useful for people who are hiring somebody to do a task that they don't know how to do themselves. That is something that's very common, like "Hey, I don't know how to do something. So I'm gonna hire somebody else who knows how to do it."

You could feasibly think like, "Hey, if I'm hiring somebody who already knows how to do it, they might not need an SOP", right? They might not need an SOP, but how will you know, if the work got done properly, if you don't know what the end result is supposed to look like. So, I feel like that's where my SOP pack might come in handy.

It gives you SOPs for stuff that you personally might not know how to do, so that you are able to give them to your people and you don't have to research how that thing is done before you offload the task. 

Atiba de Souza: That's huge because I think as business owners, a lot of us face that. It's a major hang-up in hiring. How do you hire someone to do a task that you don't know how to do?

Cristina Samoila: There's a lot of research involved in a lot of time.

Atiba de Souza: Yeah. And so, your SOP's definitely can help people get there. We're having this conversation about productivity guys, right? Cause that's what it's all about. Is productivity one size fits all? So everybody should be — and I know we touched this earlier — and you said that, it depends on your KPIs, but even still, even within the definition, is it only the KPIs that makes us different? Or, are there actual different productivity types that work in different businesses for different reasons?

Cristina Samoila: I feel like we're all productive in our own way. There isn't like a one size fits all, but I did notice some trends. I did notice how like — some people, they start the day off with a plan and be like, "Oh yeah! Look, I have a beautiful checklist of all the things that I'm gonna get done this week or the day or whatever", and they start doing that thing and they just get massively railed. As soon as they get the first email or soon as they log in, they get the first slack message from their team and be like, "Ding, I need your help", and the checklist has gone.

There's people who tends to be so productive. They move so fast. They're able to jump on things so quickly and implement so quickly that their team doesn't have time to catch up with them. They pivot so much that they forget to take a little bit of a moment to breathe and think before they jump in and implement something, and think if this is the best thing to do right now. Is this the best decision of my time right now? Does this thing that I wanna do right now align with the greater scope of what I'm trying to do this quarter or this month or this year?

There's definitely different types of people. They each have to quote Christina Hooper, they each have their superpower, but they each have their drawbacks as well, like their little pitfalls that they tend to fall into.

Atiba de Souza: Wow. That's great, and ya'll heard. She quoted a Christina Hooper, who you know, has been on this channel too. So, go check out that video. We're gonna link it up above. It's actually our mutual friend. It's how I met Cristina is through Christina Hooper. So, shout out to Christina right there.

Getting back to the point that you just made, it makes me wonder — there are the Myers-Briggs and all these other types of like personality tests. It would be super cool if there was like a productivity type test.

Cristina Samoila: Really?

Atiba de Souza: Do you know if that exist?

Cristina Samoila: There may or may not be one on the homepage of my website, if you scroll down enough.

Atiba de Souza: Did you actually create one?

Cristina Samoila: I did. I did.

Atiba de Souza: That is awesome. I didn't know you had this, so tell me about this here. What is it? And, what does it do? Let's start there.

Cristina Samoila: I have been working with coaches and course creators and everybody for the past seven years. And I have noticed these trends. I have noticed these types of productivity that affect how we go about growing our business, affect how we go about living our daily life and the things that we let impact us, the things that we let derail us.

So, what I've done is, basically, I've come up with a set of questions that help me bucket you into your own productivity type. They have me diagnose that. And then at the end, you get a little list of tailored advice, be like, "Hey, look. These are your superpowers. These are your pitfalls, and this is how you manage your pitfalls."

Here's how to make sure that we keep you doing your superpower, we enforce that what you're doing right. But make sure you don't fall into the other extreme of letting some of your more extreme characteristic, just gonna paralyze you. So here's what you need to do to mitigate that. Little bit of an action plan.

So, if you wanna check out the quiz, it's on the homepage of beeproductive.eu. It takes five minutes. All it takes is five minutes and you get tailored advice at the end.

Atiba de Souza: Five minutes and I get tailored advice.

Cristina Samoila: Hype! 

Atiba de Souza: Okay. So, you see, that's productivity ya'll because if ya'll go take a personality test, you gotta block a couple hours and then you gotta take another hour just to read the results and try to understand them. Five minutes. You get advice on understanding your type of productivity.

Cristina Samoila: Yeah.

Atiba de Souza: I'm all in. Cristina that's awesome.

Cristina Samoila: I'll let you guys in on another little secret. It's not a secret, it's a shameless blog actually. At the end of the quiz, you are gonna see a little bit of an offer for a membership that I'm building. Here's the thing that I wanted to tell you guys. The membership right now is in its launch stage and it only costs €1 for the first two weeks to sign up, and you get a one on one strategy call with me during that two weeks trial. So basically, at the end of the quiz, if you take the quiz, you have the opportunity to book one hour with me, where we dive deep and talk about your business, your personal challenges, and will build your personal 30 day plan for how to overcome these challenges on a one-on-one call dedicated for just €1.

That's not something that you want, then I don't know what you're doing.

Atiba de Souza: I don't know about y'all. I don't have to go, but I think I'm gonna go. She said €1, I got €10. I'm gonna sign up 10 times.

Cristina Samoila: You're breaking it. No, it's okay.

Atiba de Souza: Don't ya'll do that.

Cristina Samoila: It's okay. You can sign up 10 times, then you get paid for the subscription 10 times. It's okay. You can do that.

 I'm teasing, but seriously though, guys, that's a great offer. Where else can you get an hour with a productivity coach and let's face it. Productivity is one of the most important things in our business, because if our people aren't being productive, we are not moving forward.

And, Cristina here is offering you an opportunity. You get a free opportunity to figure out what your productivity type is by taking her free quiz and it only takes five minutes.

And then for €1, you get an entire hour with her. Listen, have ya'll been listening for the last 30 minutes? She's just been doling out great stuff for the last 30 minutes for absolutely free here that's completely not customized to you. Imagine, twice as long customized to you would be like.

I'll be honest, people come on the show and they make offers. I think that's the best one I've heard.

I'll take that.

Atiba de Souza: Okay.

Cristina Samoila: And there's — Christina that I can thank for that because she helped me come up with it.

Atiba de Souza: Yeah. Good. And, Christina Hooper, she is a genius all by herself.

Cristina Samoila: She has this amazing way of discovering your superpowers, because it's so hard to see the good in ourselves. We always so easily recognizing in others, especially when they have skill sets that are opposite of ours and be like, "My God, this person is a genius", in their little bubble there, but we never see it in ourselves.

We're like, "Hi, sit here and do stuff for people. I don't know what I do best. I don't know." Christina was able to just like within five minutes of meeting me, she's like, "Yeah, this is your superpower."

Atiba de Souza: That is awesome. Do me a favor, Cristina. One, it's been so great to have you on the show, but tell everyone once again, how can they get in touch with you and take that productivity type quiz? 

Cristina Samoila: Yep. If you wanna go and take the quiz, you just go to my website, which is beeproductive with two E's from the bees thingies dot eu. If you scroll to the bottom of the page, you'll see a call to action to take the quiz.

Atiba de Souza: Awesome. Cristina, again, thank you for being here. I look forward to having you on the show again and we can talk more productivity and everybody go take the quiz. All right, everybody. I see you later. Bye. Bye. 

Cristina Samoila: Thank you! Bye.

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