5 Warning Signs Of Poor Productivity And Tips To Turn Them Around

Tatiana Czuchnowsky

Got a poor productivity problem? Use these tips to make some positive changes  Productivity – the rate at which goods are produced or work is …

Got a poor productivity problem? Use these tips to make some positive changes 

Avalanche sign and mountains at the backgroundProductivity – the rate at which goods are produced or work is completed.

Productivity is a critical measure of employee success and a fundamental business objective in today’s workforce and industry. Because it plays such a key role in our day to day business lives, increased productivity is a goal at the forefront for most employees and employers alike. Although a productive workplace is the desired aim, the reality remains that quite often targets aren’t being met and output doesn’t match management’s expectations. With this said, what are some of the warning signs of poor productivity?

  1. Lack of Clear Performance Expectations – Many people go about their workday having no idea of what is expected of them. Discussions between management and staff about performance expectations are rare and many employees are unaware of how their performance is measured.
  2. Stress –plays a huge role in workplace productivity. An overtaxed workload often leads to stress and procrastination. Stress can also trigger a fight-or-flight state, with employees ready to fight or run. This type of mindset does not enable employees to put forth their best efforts.
  3. Quality of Work – Productivity is a good indicator of employee satisfaction. If an employee’s quality of work falls off, it’s quite often an indication of dissatisfaction, stress or even boredom.
  4. Missed Deadlines – Deadlines are missed when unclear about project and performance expectations, or under stress. As human beings, we often tend to tackle the items we have a clear understanding of, pushing the things we are unsure of or don’t want to do, to the backburner.
  5. Boredom – leads to disengagement. Disengagement leads to a loss of productivity. According to 2011 research by management-consulting firm Gallup, 71% of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their work, meaning they are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and are less likely to be productive.

What can be done as a manager and as an employee to counteract these warning signs and create an uptick in productivity?

  1. Lack of Clear Performance Expectations – As a manager, be clear about performance expectations. Outline them at the beginning of a new hire or at the start of a new project.  Set realistic goals, stick to them and communicate them often. Keep employees engaged, match work with skills, provide challenging and thought provoking projects, and be a guide and mentor to your employees.
    If you, an employee, are unsure of expectations and your role, speak up. Ask your manager to clearly define and outline your performance expectations and use them as guidelines for future evaluations.  If there is something you would like to try or learn, ask.
  2. Stress – Since the economic collapse in 2008, the trend has been to saddle employees with additional work instead of bringing in new hires. An increased workload and the lack of a sense of job security leads to home and workplace stress, affecting productivity. Managers, evaluate the workloads of your employees, re-distribute tasks evenly. Be appreciative, supportive, offer recognition or hire another employee if possible to share the load.
    Employees should be honest with management about their workloads, and not be afraid to ask for assistance when it’s needed. Approach your manager with concerns and possible solutions for your workplace stresses. An honest, collaborative and solution driven approach can work wonders to deflate workplace stress.
  3. Quality of Work – Managers must be clear with expectations! Be honest with feedback, review and discuss work quality with employees often. Feedback goes both ways, so find out what makes your employees tick, and play to their strengths and interests.
    Employees shouldn’t be afraid to ask for feedback. If you are unsure of your work, need some help, be open and communicative, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance and be transparent with your manager about areas of interest, confusion or struggle.
  4. Missed Deadlines – Deadlines should be communicated and their importance should be parlayed to employees at the start of a project. Regularly scheduled status updates for the duration of the project are a great way to ensure everything is on track.
    Employees – it’s all about organization. First of all, de-clutter your workspace and keep items pertinent to the project close at hand. The more organized your area is, the less there is opportunity for distraction. Create deadline reminders in your calendar and break up your workday into chunks, setting daily blocks dedicated to your project and the other work you have to do. Finally, do simple things to minimize distraction such as turning off your email notification sound, and only checking your email at your predetermined blocks, 2 – 3 times per day.
  5. Boredom – Managers that talk with, listen to and keep their employees engaged do not encounter this issue. Ways to combat employee boredom include knowing your employees likes and strengths and offering them challenges to keep them stimulated. Keep employees motivated by offering recognition and feedback on a regular basis. Employees that are bored need to speak up. Talk with management about being challenged more, offer to take on greater pieces of or additional projects and discuss potential advancement paths.

Recognizing and combatting these warning signs of poor productivity will not only improve workplace relations between manager and employee, but also send productivity upward. For additional tips to increase productivity and efficiency, check out this blog by Karina Keith from CornerStone Dynamics (CSD) and this one by Adriana Girdler, CET, PMP and CEO of CSD.

Do you have productivity tips to share? Feel free to leave a comment below or shout out to us on Facebook or Twitter. Of course, you could always write your own blog post on the subject and share it with us… We’d love to read it!

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Tatiana Czuchnowsky was an associate at CornerStone Dynamics Inc. In all her blogs efficiency was the name of the game.

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