Being productive as an individual contributor is very different from driving productivity in a team. As a leader, there are crucial organizational skills you need to cultivate.
Jon Hill, CEO and chairman of The Energists, an executive search and recruiting firm focused on the energy industry, defines those skills as ones that “allow individuals to create and properly follow structures and systems in an organization.”
“These are the skills that help individuals make sense of the tasks and projects of their job, then sort them into logical categories based on their relative priority and the skills required in order to complete them most effectively and efficiently,” he says.
In other words, organizational skills are the glue that holds your team’s performance and productivity together. Poor organization means increased waste and inefficiency, says Hill. You don’t want your team members using their precious energy to track down resources and information or clarify misunderstandings.
“Organizational skills are crucial in laying a foundation for growth and repeatability. With a clear organizational structure, your team will be able to more readily take ownership for their pieces of the business and push that forward with less oversight,” according to Whitney Hill, co-founder and CEO of SnapADU, an accessory dwelling unit construction company, and former management consultant specialized in performance improvement.
“Clear role definitions and responsibilities also make recruiting and development more seamless, as managers and employees are operating from a single set of standards.”
Here are six high-level organizational skills that will boost your team’s productivity regardless of your industry or function.
“The top skills in my mind are time management, strategic planning/goal-setting, and task management/delegation. Organizational leaders who are strong in all of these skills are best equipped to maintain a well-organized and highly-productive organization,” says Hill (Jon).
You’ll want to brush up on your goal-setting skills because the abilities above all depend on having the right goals. “The process of setting smart goals helps employees see organizational skills in action and develop the task-prioritization and strategic planning skills that result in a strong organization. This process also helps managers set better goals for themselves through the process of helping employees do so.”
Being able to draw clear distinctions between roles and departments is also critical to setting up a team for productivity, says Hill (Whitney). This also means mapping out things cross-functionally.
The best example of that skill in action is a good-old org chart. If you can create a solid one and revisit it to further adjust it as your company evolves, you’ve mastered an important organizational skill. “In the beginning, you may have several boxes on the chart that are handled by a single person. Going forward, you will start to fill boxes as you build out the team. By having a working document for the organizational structure, you can enable executives and managers to have a shared understanding of how the departments are – or will be – laid out in the company,” she says.
This skill also translates into regularly assessing departmental boundaries and workloads. She recommends keeping a living document of high-level responsibilities, including areas where role clarity is less obvious. Use it to adjust roles, expectations and workload based on real-time demands.
“Being able to facilitate the organizational structure with the right technology is crucial to promoting productivity and efficiency,” adds Hill (Whitney).
The misunderstanding of which tools will lead to the growth you are looking for is a common pitfall when it comes to organizational skills, so map out your priorities, talk to your team to figure out what the challenges and needs are, and take your time before committing to a tool. Deploying the tools properly also matters, and you’ll need to regularly check-in and see whether your tech stack is still helpful and relevant to your processes.
“I find lack of proper organization is often closely tied to an ‘in-the-moment’ viewpoint among employees and managers,” says Hill (Jon). “They only see their immediate tasks without considering how they fit into the broader goals and needs of the organization as a whole.”
According to him, when your team members are able to put their individual work into this context, they’ll be better able to prioritize tasks, see how their efforts connect to tasks being done by others and identify workflow improvements at the same time. This is a recipe for increased productivity.
Finally, having the foresight and anticipating changes is a skill that can make the difference between a productive team and a supercharged one. “Having the organizational foresight to plan for shifts in departments and roles will help the company evolve seamlessly,” says Hill (Whitney).
This can look like recognizing that your hybrid work model is going to need readjustment as you expand your team or notice an opportunity to seize. It’s about being proactive instead of reactive – and this quality will help your team focus on what matters the most when it matters the most on a day-to-day basis.
Time management is crucial not only to stay on top of project deadlines, but also to safeguard your mental health. Creating blocks of time that are dedicated to specific tasks allows you to concentrate with no distractions. Having solid goals for your day helps you to prioritize your tasks and set yourself up for success as opposed to burnout. If you’re not sure how much time to block for certain types of tasks, you can use Hive’s time-tracking. This feature will inform you how long it takes to complete that specific task, so next time you can be even more precise in your scheduling goals.
This article originally appeared in Hive — the world's first democratically built productivity platform. Learn more at Hive.com.