No matter the scale of the project or the importance of a client for your company, it can be difficult to motivate employees into productivity without imposing deadlines on them. Whether you are a project manager, a team leader or an employee assigned to one of the numerous company departments, it can be hard to achieve productivity at the best of times.

According to Harvard Business Review, at least 50% of overall employee engagement during daily work hours were spent on activities unrelated to the work itself, with annual US productivity growth estimated at 1-2% across the entire market. However, there are ways to motivate your team into being more productive even without pressing deadlines. Let’s take a look at several ways to do so to achieve better results and a higher quality of deliverables through different types of motivation.

Team-Wide Accountability

Typical project management workflow puts the lead member into the main position of accountability. However, if the entire team is held accountable for whether or not a project is delivered on time, the work ethic might take a turn for the better.

There is no point in putting the weight of an entire project on a single person without holding the entire team accountable. Sharing the results and deliverables of a project between team members will likely make everyone more mindful and aware of the quality of work they put out there.

This type of accountability can be addressed in an open meeting, by the project lead or by an upper management member depending on the scale of the company itself. It is bound to help team members place a higher emphasis on the work they do daily.

Break Tasks into Milestones

Depending on the type of work being done for a project, you may need to break it down into more manageable milestones. Presenting your team with individual milestones with their deadlines might be the best way to entice team members into being more productive.

To aid you in this task, online tools and platforms can be used to format your project goals and milestones into easy-to-understand writing. That way, they will be able to focus on smaller tasks that add up to the result without being overwhelmed with complex project goals prematurely. Present your team with project milestones and assign separate milestones which all lead up to a bigger outcome down the line.

Highlight Productive Team Members

Employees love receiving an acknowledgment from their team leaders and department heads no matter the industry. This can be used to your advantage as a project manager, allowing you to highlight exemplary team members. Aine Brookes, the content department manager for Top Writers Review spoke on the matter: “Simple employee-of-the-week or month programs can do wonders for productivity across the office floor. It’s also a good idea to let the top performer speak and share a few words to let others know that everyone is capable of high productivity and recognition.”

Make it a habit to periodically check up on your team’s productivity and publicly announce the most productive team members and their work results. This will allow others to see what it takes to become a top performer in the following period while also showing the current state of productivity of the entire team. You can go a step further and reward performers with small incentives such as shorter work hours, a coffee with a thank-you note or some other show of good faith on your part as a team leader.

Utilize Productivity Software

Depending on the scale of your business and the freedom you have as a project manager, you can introduce professional productivity software into your everyday team activities. Numerous platforms on the web allow team leaders to delegate, manage, track and evaluate tasks whether in-house or remotely through the cloud.

There is no need to do everything the old way with pen and paper. New technologies allow minimizing the routine tasks and thus, spending more time on the real problems an auditor should solve.

Weekly Check-In Meetings

Individual team members are bound to work on their delegated tasks regardless of others on their team. However, once the project comes to a point where it needs to be put into a whole, problems can arise quite quickly. Check-in meetings on a weekly (or more frequent) basis can help your team stay focused, productive and on the same page.

Make sure that your team members communicate, share ideas and are aware of what each of them is doing in terms of the currently active project. Regular check-in meetings will also allow productive members to stand out and share their work experience so far, while the detractors might start to feel the pressure of underperforming. Use the teamwork philosophy and organize meetings on a scheduled basis to keep your team members on track with deliverables.

Productivity-Based Rewards

Lastly, incentives such as specialized seminars, industry events, and other training opportunities work wonders for productivity. Individual team members want added employment value on top of the social security and monthly income which goes without saying.

Incentives that go beyond employee recognition and offer tangible, resume-improving rewards to individuals might be what your team needs. Rewards for which the ideas came from them personally will likely hold a greater value. Talk to your members about what they would like to see as rewards for productivity going forward and try to meet them halfway. Even smaller rewards such as concert tickets or paid-for restaurant dinner for the top performers will have a positive effect on making sure that your team is productive.

In Summary

While it is important for your team to remain productive and respect the deadlines set by upper management and clients, it’s also worth avoiding crunch time. Don’t push your team to the limits of productivity for the sake of appeasing individual clients.

People who are burnt out will under-perform no matter how great of a reward you offer for higher productivity. Strike a healthy balance by communicating with your team and assessing the current situation according to the work that lies ahead. Test different combinations of tools to find out what your team members are the most receptive to. Sometimes small additions can transform the way you handle office productivity, so talk to your coworkers and find a mutually beneficial solution to the issue. That way, you will know when to push for more results and when to let your team breathe and focus on managing their files, inboxes, and workspace as a whole.


Author: Daniela McVicker is a contributing editor for Rated by Students. She is also an experienced writer with a degree in social psychology from Durham University. Daniela is primarily focused on writing about self-improvement and productivity.