Team productivity is one of the most important ingredients in business, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep themselves on track. Without productivity, projects can fall behind deadlines, leaving teams scrambling to deal with the consequences.
A distracting workplace can cost you far more than team productivity—it can cost businesses billions in revenue loss. According to a survey by Salary.com and America Online, employees spend an average of 1.86 hours per eight-hour workday on something other than their jobs, costing U.S. employers an estimated $544 billion in lost productivity each year.
If productivity is a problem on your team, consider the many potential blockers and how you can fix them.
1. Technology Issues
Technology should help employees be more efficient and effective in their jobs, not make it more difficult. A new study, however, found that technology is actually doing the latter. According to Udemy’s, 2018 Workplace Distraction Report, 33 percent of employees surveyed said that technology and connectivity issues were the most common distractions and productivity-suckers in the workplace.
Ensure that your team members have effective tools for project management and collaboration that can actually help them do their jobs well, along with the resources to learn and leverage those tools. An easy way to determine whether technology is a productivity blocker for your team is to ask.
Send out a survey checking in on what’s helping and what’s hurting, and then make adjustments based on the information you get back. It can be easy to get distracted by high-level issues and forget about these everyday time-suckers that could be costing you productivity.
2. Poor Collaboration
When team productivity suffers, you may have to take on the majority of the work or pick up the slack for others. While this may just feel like a part of your job, it doesn’t have to be.
When working as a team, it’s important that workload is balanced across the team members, so projects can progress smoothly. Bogdan Carstoiu, CEO of Hubgets, says, “Project management takes a lot of effort for the team leaders involved. Handling everything by yourself can quickly become overwhelming, especially when the project hits a rough spot. When you make it collaborative by involving others in the process, responsibilities can be shared, and the amount of work can be divided.”
Collaboration alleviates your productivity struggles, allowing you to be a better leader. By instilling this into the culture of your team, you can ensure that projects remain on track, avoiding budget overages and angry upper-level leadership.
Carstoiu continues, “Team leaders engaged in team collaboration are more likely to deliver on time and with better results. By joining their forces together, project managers can face challenges a lot easier, while also making sure that they have the best workforce working on the project.”
3. Unnecessary Meetings
Meetings are beneficial for communication, but they have also become major productivity blockers for businesses everywhere. In a survey of 182 senior managers in a range of industries:
- 65 percent said meetings stop them from completing work
- 71 percent believe meetings are both unproductive and inefficient
- 64 percent say meetings interrupt their deep thinking
- 62 percent believe meetings don’t actually bring the team closer together
Finding a balance between unproductive meetings and ensuring the team collaborates and connects can be challenging. Use these simple tips to get the best of both:
- Invest in collaboration software that allows team members to report on their progress towards deadlines and goals without having to meet at a certain time and place.
- Encourage team members to schedule “off-limits” focus times on their calendars so they can dedicate distracted-free times throughout the day to get important tasks done. Time blocking can help maintain these schedules.
- Set a time-limit for each meeting. If the meeting goes over, attendees are allowed to leave. This keeps everyone on track.
4. Lack of Organization
There’s nothing more frustrating and time consuming than searching through old emails or computer drives for important documents. Your team should be able to quickly and easily access folders and commonly-used documents.
Cloud-based filing systems, like Box or Google Drive, are critical for keeping documents organized. Take this one step further by making sure your naming convention for documents and folders is simple and straightforward. Being able to find a folder is great, but if you can’t tell what it is, you lose the value in being able to find it.
Empower your team to develop a process that works for them, and then implement it together. This encourages them to take ownership of the organization, since they’re likely the ones adding to folders and accessing documents the most. As a leader, this takes one extra thing off your plate, so you can also focus on being as productive as possible.
5. Not Enough Training
Training has proven to be an effective way to increase workplace productivity. According to the previously mentioned study from Udemy, 70 percent of respondents agree that training can help people get better at blocking out distractions and achieving focus.
Not only does the proper training give your employees the tools they need to fulfill their jobs, but it also helps build confidence which in turn makes them more productive. When investing in training for your team, consider the blended learning style, which includes a mix of online and offline learning. Lisa Burke, talent acquisition expert, explains in an article for Develop Intelligence:
“The methodology was first used in classroom environments to provide differential learning delivery but has been gaining much ground within the business sector over the past several years since the principles are widely applicable to corporate training needs. It is set to become the training method of choice across all industries.”
This type of training allows employees to learn in the format that’s best for them, whether that be in-person or individually, with online courses. With the online component, employees can also be most productive, doing their learning modules as time allows, rather than taking up too much time with in-person learning.
Related: 15 Leadership Training Options
To be the most effective, find out where employees could use the most training in regards to productivity, then develop the course for those needs. You can do this yourself or hire a consultant to do it for you. In the end, if you can tie the ROI of completed projects to the amount spent on upskilling your team, the value will be obvious.
Overcome Your Productivity Blockers
In project management, productivity is critical. Use these ideas to figure out what’s slowing your team down and how you can improve to stay on budget and meet deadlines. You may be dealing with of mix of issues—but once identified, you can work to fix them and become a more productive team.
Remember, it’s critical to lead by example. Don’t just have a meeting and outline all the ways your team is missing the mark. Implement these practices in your day-to-day routine. Let everyone else see how productive you are, and seek to emulate you. Practicing what you preach is the first step to becoming a transformational leader, which is perhaps the most effective style of leadership for team productivity.
Is there one tool that can implement most of these productivity tips? Yes. ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software that fosters collaboration through online task lists, kanban boards and Gantt charts. Team members can dialogue through chat and other channels, and store project files in the cloud in one accessible location. See how our software can help your team productivity by taking this free 30-day trial.