How to Improve Team Productivity: 5 Strategies

June 13, 2024


Emily May

It’s the age-old question that every leader wants the answer to: how can I improve my team’s productivity?

While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to motivating productive habits within your team, learning about successful initiatives within other organizations can help you form tailored strategies that suit your team's unique needs. 

This article shares five tried-and-true strategies used within ICAgile to energize employees and promote team productivity.

How Does ICAgile Define Team Productivity?

The ICAgile team measures productivity by outcomes instead of outputs. Our day-to-day activities revolve around creating value for our stakeholders, measuring the results, and brainstorming new approaches to further our mission. 

By focusing on the quality of our work rather than the quantity, we have mental space in our calendars to innovate, collaborate, automate processes, and avoid burnout. An honorable mention goes to our flexible time off policy, allowing us to take time off when needed.

The productivity strategies at ICAgile aim to empower employees to work in ways that make the most progress toward objectives in the shortest amount of time. 

What is Toxic Productivity?

Our perspective on productivity as an organization is a departure from other mainstream approaches, one in particular often referred to as ‘toxic productivity.’ This mindset places a significant burden on employees to keep busy, with little breathing room between tasks, making it harder for workers to step away or generate creative solutions. 

The side effects of toxic productivity can harm our health, careers, and the organization at large–including burnout, job dissatisfaction, low retention rates, and lack of customer-centricity, to name a few. 

5 Tips on How to Improve Employee Productivity

graphic for 5 tips on employee productivity

If you want the secret sauce behind improving team productivity in a way that supports a healthy working environment, consider trying the five ICAgile strategies listed below. 

1. Create Self-Organizing Teams

Micromanagement requires managers to constantly monitor their employees, which leads to time waste and a lack of autonomy–but the opposite is true for self-organizing teams. With a collective goal in sight, colleagues work together to complete tasks without significant oversight. Common characteristics of self-organizing teams include collaboration, mutual accountability, trust, and autonomy. 

Working agreements and charters are commonplace at ICAgile to maximize the efficiency of our self-organizing teams. Working agreements establish expectations and behavioral norms for the group to ensure all members can work synergistically and solve roadblocks quickly. To drive the collective mission home, we take the planning phase one step further by hosting a charter session that documents key project details, such as the group's mission, role specifications, objectives, metrics, and applicable timeframes. 

Self-organizing teams offer organizations an element of democracy that supercharges productivity. Through shared leadership, collaboration, accountability, and decision-making, team members have a voice and can quickly turn their insights into action without the need for blockers and waiting periods.

2. Grant Autonomy

If you’ve tried giving your team more autonomy and the initiative failed, one common pitfall is a lack of alignment. Autonomy is a two-way street–leaders must always aim to be transparent with their team regarding departmental and organizational goals. When team members understand the highest-priority tasks and objectives, their work becomes more efficient and focused, enabling them to work more independently.

One way to grant autonomy is to allow people to work remotely. Many people prefer trading their daily commutes for the ability to create their own work environment that is suited to their comfort level, abilities, and preferences. Further, without a manager peering over their shoulders, some employees feel more empowered working from home, positively impacting their productivity. 

A fully remote working environment provides the ICAgile team independence and flexibility, but we understand that remote work isn’t always possible for other organizations. Whether your team works on a hybrid model, remote or in-person, emphasizing the importance of accountability, structured workflows, and alignment with organizational values in the hiring process will increase internal productivity by a considerable degree. 

3. Encourage Continuous Improvement

cartoon of a team working at a whiteboard on improvements

At ICAgile, we’re collectively committed to continuous improvement, and this takes shape in many different ways, from practicing a growth mindset and learning new skills to collecting feedback from our colleagues and customers to improve our products and strategies. 

Continuous improvement requires team members to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Instead of accepting the status quo, we actively seek change and take on new challenges. Striving for growth keeps things interesting in the workplace and breaks up the monotony of a workday, leading to higher engagement and stimulation. 

An example of this is our application of growth plans. In the monthly 1-on-1 meetings with our team leaders, we discuss the natural progression of our role and the next steps we need to take for a promotion, such as taking on new responsibilities or utilizing our continuing education fund to advance our skills. 

We are embracing change as a significant motivator for our team’s productivity. By adapting and investing in ourselves, work environments, and customer outcomes, we stumble upon the unexpected and use it as fuel for innovation.

4. Host Meetings with Intention

If you talk to almost anyone in the corporate world and ask how they spend their workday, meetings will almost always be part of their answer. Depending on the nature of the work, sometimes being in meetings is a significant part of a job title, such as working in sales. However, even so, there are many ways to cut down on meeting time for a more productive and focused team experience. 

At ICAgile, our meetings always have a set agenda or purpose. For example, each team member takes turns facilitating our sprint meetings, a role responsible for moving the team along the meeting agenda to ensure we don’t take more time than we need to–and sometimes, we finish our meetings earlier than expected. 

The purpose of agile meetings, such as daily standups or iteration planning, is to maintain focus on achieving the overall goal of the time block. When teams accomplish the meeting objectives in the allotted time, they can check it off their list and return to their work to continue providing value to their customers. 

Tips to host focused meetings include:

  • Establishing a purpose and agenda for every meeting
  • Sticking to the allotted meeting time
  • Inviting only relevant participants
  • Utilizing facilitation skills to keep the meeting on track

Pro tip: View the meeting end time as a deadline for fulfilling the meeting agenda or overall purpose of the session. If the objectives haven’t been accomplished, spend a few minutes at the end to identify clear next steps to maintain the meeting timebox. 

5. Reward Productivity

cartoon of productivity being rewarded

Organizational leaders can also recognize and reward productivity to reinforce exceptional effort. Some businesses may offer a productivity-linked bonus or other incentive to motivate their teams. 

Ensure that the metrics used to drive incentive programs align with departmental or business goals.

For example, at ICAgile, we track metrics that directly correlate to organizational goals. At the end of the calendar year, a company-wide bonus is evenly distributed to employees based on the group’s collective success in achieving the metric goals set at the beginning of the year.  

While many incentives are based on individual performance, a team-based incentive can foster more team collaboration and a sense of collective responsibility. 

Recognition of your team members' hard work can go a long way in maintaining competitive retention rates and ensuring employees feel valued and appreciated for their productive contributions. 


Determining what productivity strategies work best for your team will require trial and error. Still, you’ll see the most success when aligning productivity initiatives with organizational values and preferences. Additionally, promoting a positive work environment that values feedback, recognizes achievements, and encourages continuous learning contributes to more effective workflows and more value delivered to customers. 

Did you find the strategies in this article useful? Follow us on LinkedIn to stay updated on new resources, courses, and learner journeys. 

Elevate Your Learning

Join our community of agile learners and get the latest news and resources delivered straight to your inbox.

* indicates required
Leading Change, Agility in Leadership

About the author

Emily May | ICAgile, Marketing Specialist
Emily May is a Marketing Specialist at ICAgile, where she helps educate learners on their agile journey through content. With an eclectic background in communications supporting small business marketing efforts, she hopes to inspire readers to initiate more empathy, productivity, and creativity in the workplace for improved internal and external outcomes.