8 Secrets of Pulling Your Team to Greater Productivity

How do you get your team to get more done?

How do you get them to go beyond their limits?

Do you drive them? Do you push them hard?

And then push them harder even once they are resenting the efforts?

You may get the work done, but you probably won’t have much of a team afterwards.

If you want your team to be successful, you can’t push them… you have to pull them.

Pushing Your Team

True story.

When I was an officer in the Navy, one of my first Captains coached me during my annual review by saying…

“You don’t yell enough.”

What? Excuse me? What do you mean?

“You don’t yell at your team enough. I’ve never heard you raise your voice at them, I think you need to be harder on them.” 

After sitting in stunned silence for a moment, I decided to answer with a question or two…

I asked,

“Do we get our work done?”

and then

“Do we finish projects ahead of schedule?”

and finally

“Didn’t we get an overall grade of “Excellent” on our most recent operational evaluation?”

It was obvious that we had differing styles of motivation and leadership.

Getting your team to work hard is not about pushing them.

Rather, it is about pulling them.

Pulling Your Team to Productivity

There is an old leadership maxim that dates back to the early 1900s.

It says…

“You can’t push a string.”

Think of a physical string on the table. If you push it, it simply bunches up and goes nowhere.

If you pull it, it lines up and goes wherever you gently direct it.

It means that to make progress, you can’t push a string. You have to pull it forward.

The same is true for high-performance teams.

You can’t push them incessantly. You will only cause friction and discord.

You may get them to the finish line, but they will be a jumbled mess.

Instead, try pulling your team to success.

Motivate them by pulling them forward to accomplish new things and reach levels they did not know they could reach.

This is was good leaders do.

Here are 8 Secrets to Pull Your Team to Greater Productivity:

  1. Tell Them What You Want Done, Not How to Do It – Motivate your team by letting them determine how to get the work done. Tell them the objectives and goals, and let them impress you with their creativity and initiative.
  2. Praise Your Team – Surveys show that most employees are lucky if they receive any praise during the course of their job. Recognize hard work and success and make sure that you call it out. Publicly praise your team members. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be sincere.
  3. Make Them a Team – Make sure your team is a team. Pull them together. Do activities and events to allow them to bond as more than just co-workers. Trust and understanding are things that have to develop, you can’t force them. On a side note, if someone is not part of the team, you may need to remove them in order to let the core team thrive.
  4. Give the Team the Authority to Make Decisions – Some managers don’t let their team make any decisions without their approval. This does not lead to a productive environment. You should trust your team to make day-to-day decisions on their own. Good leaders don’t lead by giving permission on each simple task. They lead by knowing when to gently course correct their team along the way.
  5. Keep Them in the Know – Let your team know the big picture. Don’t withhold information unnecessarily. Your team can’t perform at their best if they are wearing blinders.
  6. Let Them Have Skin in the Game – In many companies, teams feel like they are simply working to make the boss more successful. Great companies know that teams produce better results if they are vested in the outcome. Make sure the team has incentive in the overall outcome… win or lose.
  7. Hold Them Accountable – Pulling your team does not mean not holding them accountable. In fact, they want to be held to high standards. Teams suffer if a leader does not hold all team members accountable for their role.
  8. Positive Attitude – As a leader, you set the tone for your entire team’s operation. The team takes their cue from the top. If the boss is having a bad day, so is the entire team. Bringing a positive attitude can be crucial to your team’s success.

Pull Instead of Push

Pushing your team only goes so far. In the end, it causes discontent and strife.

You might get the work done, but it will take double the effort and produces half the results.

If you want your team to get more work done and be more productive…. pull them.

Pull them to greater limits. Pull them to greater achievements.

And of course, pull them to success.

Question: Do you push or pull your team to get work done?

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7 thoughts on “8 Secrets of Pulling Your Team to Greater Productivity

  1. This is great information! But what do you do if your supervisor doesn’t let you lead your team your way, but instead micromanages your every move on how you are leading your team. There are obvious differing styles of motivation and leadership so how do balance between this way of managing your team and the way your supervisor wants you to manage your team, by “more yelling”?

  2. GREAT article, Craig! It is SO true that pushing your team will only get you so far and that pulling them is the right way to lead.

    I have a question – how, as part of that team, would you “teach” this to your own supervisor/manager? It’s not easy or seen with good eyes sometimes to let your boss know what you wish he/she did differently, no matter how much of an “open door” policy there is…

    thanks for your advice!

  3. I read some research once – it might have been an HBR article by Daniel Goleman. Essentially it said that if you’re very directive – do this, do that – then unless it’s a crisis, like a fire – the team morale will go down. People want to be encouraged and treated with respect. Often teams will know more than the leader so recognizing and valuing your teams knowledge and skills is important.