How to Maximize Team Efficiency as a Manager

Post created by Jace Gersten (Applied IMC, Fall 2022)

Over the past 3 months, I experienced life as a product manager for the podcast: Marketing by the Minute. I was selected for this role in my Applied Integrated Marketing Communications class where we were tasked to build a product or service to improve our own marketing department. My team decided to rebuild and improve a podcast from the previous quarter. During this time, I oversaw a team of 5 content creators. I learned so much about how to manage a team and what tools/practices are used to help managers succeed.

Fogg Model

Almost every time a manager in our class was struggling to get an assignment finished from their group, it was due to team cohesion, rather than technical issues. So very early on a concept was introduced to us managers called the Fogg behavior model. The model is meant to help explain the psychology behind what influences a person to take action and the steps to take to resolve inaction. The model relies on the theory that only 3 factors influence someone to act, or in our case, to work! The model focuses on motivation, ability, and triggers. The basic theory is that some level of all 3 categories is required for action, and if any of the 3 are absent, then work would not be done, or at least not on time. So anytime we faced an issue regarding workflow, we had to diagnose whether it was a motivation issue, an ability issue, or a lack of a trigger. With each case, we would discuss possible solutions.

So, if someone had 100% motivation, and 100% ability, but lacked any trigger to complete a task, then our job was simple. We had to provide a trigger, like a reminder, or a workflow system to guarantee they knew what they had to do. If someone lacked ability, then we would have to uncover what the inability was and either teach them or ask for another team member to assist with the task. And last, the most challenging is if someone lacks motivation. To fix motivation, the two options are to either tackle extrinsic motivation or intrinsic motivation, with the ladder being preferred. An intrinsic motivating solution would attempt to have someone change their mind on their own. You could try to persuade them why the work their doing is important and maybe how it will benefit their future. But If concentrating on intrinsic motivation doesn’t work, then targeting extrinsic motivation is the unfortunate next step. This usually involves a less friendly approach by either removing rewards or adding punishment. In the real world, this would be reduced pay or being fired. In our case, it was worse grades. But in any situation, we now had a systematic strategy to understand what we could do as managers to keep our team on track.


Another management tactic used was lean meetings. The strategies we used stemmed from the concept of lean coffee, an informal meeting with no predetermined agenda. Small groups (ideally less than 10) brainstorm topics individually and then collectively vote on the topics that are most important. While every lean meeting is different, they all follow a simple process.

The first part of this process is to brainstorm topics. Each member uses sticky notes to brainstorm as many ideas as possible within the time limit (usually about 2-5 minutes). It is important that ideas are kept private to avoid groupthink. This makes sure that all ideas are uninfluenced and unique, ultimately resulting in an output of ideas that have much more variety. After the initial brainstorming is over, the next steps are straightforward. The team will decide what ideas are the most important to focus on and proceed to discuss the chosen topics until time runs out.

This process is extremely simple, and may even seem pointless, but its simplicity is what makes it so efficient. We used this process constantly in; discussing product ideas/iterations, creating Kanbans, sprint reviews, sprint retrospectives, etc. Obviously, the Lean methodology isn’t a one size fits all scenario, but in areas like product development and review, lean is extremely powerful.

* (If you want to learn more about Sprints, Kanbans, and other Scrum tools, check out my other blog post here)