Top 5 Threats to Team Productivity and How to Avoid Them (+ 1 You Didn’t Expect)


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Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to start each morning at 4 a.m. with a cold shower to increase productivity. We’re not here to lecture you about standing desks, either. While these methods can be individualistically beneficial, they don’t address the root cause of a failed project or why projects are mismanaged, which is what ultimately affects a team’s productivity.

Whether you’re managing a software project or a construction project, if you want to increase productivity as a project manager, it boils down to getting a grip on the basics: weak leadership, lack of organization, using the wrong productivity tools, out-of-sync project statuses, poor time management, and company culture. Without proper attention to each factor, you’re at high risk of driving yourself into failed project execution.

1. Weak Leadership

Nothing will make or break a team like the quality of leadership. You may be extremely talented from a technical standpoint, but if you can’t manage people and processes effectively, you’re a weak leader. And once your team loses trust in your ability to lead, your ship is already sinking. 

You are nothing without your team, so set your ego aside and make a concerted effort to understand how to become a better leader. Learn how to communicate with conviction and compassion because one without the other is a lost cause.

It’s also important to keep in mind that everything is a team effort, beyond just your leadership abilities. So if you’re struggling to get the support you need to fulfill your duties as a strong project manager, reach out to your project sponsor. Depending on your organization and project, there is likely a person or entity outside of just you who owns the project, and that’s your project sponsor. They have a responsibility to offer you support and provide you with all the necessary resources to help you and your team succeed. Additionally, if you work for a larger company or enterprise, chances are there’s a project management office that has developed specific guidelines for how to go about managing projects. Take advantage of all internal resources possible to strengthen your ability to manage projects effectively.

How to be a better leader

Don’t lose hope! Take a step back, try talking to other leaders outside of your organization, and follow thoughtful leaders from a variety of industries on social media (specifically LinkedIn and Twitter). What do they say? Read the comments—how do people respond in the comments and replies? At the end of the day, leadership is about how we manage interacting with others to leverage their talents for the greater good. 

Learn more about the critical roles managers play in encouraging productivity. | 4 Qualities Managers Must Have to Increase the Productivity of Their Employees.

2. Lack of Organization

Is it easy to get dressed when there are piles of clothes on your bed, on the floor, on a catch-all chair, some in the washing machine, some in the dryer, etc.? Or would you prefer they were folded and put away? I’m going to venture to guess you answered the latter. That’s because creating systems to manage laundry and returning clothes to their designated place in our homes is not only more pleasant to look at, and it makes getting dressed a breeze. 

The same philosophy applies for managing your work. Whether it’s a tidy project board or being able to locate a document, your productivity to actually make a dent in the day rides on knowing where things are and what their status is at any given moment. Step back and be honest with yourself. Does each goal you’ve set have a clear objective? If not, make time to break down what feels like a massive undertaking into defined, actionable plans. Then take another step back and define your project objective and try to see the bigger picture: Are all moving parts aligned with the greater vision for this project?

How to get organized

If you’ve been winging it for some time now, it’s not impossible to straighten up your workflow. Proper planning starts with getting organized. Keep reading to learn more about the tools you need to increase productivity.

Read More: The Importance of Project Security

3. Using the Wrong Productivity Tools

Would you drive a semi-trailer truck to meet a friend for coffee downtown? No because it uses too much gas and would be a headache to drive and park in the city! By the same token, a series of documents and spreadsheets in Google Drive or Sharepoint isn’t the most effective way to manage projects. Depending on your team, your project, and your industry, there are numerous project management solutions on the market (including some with freemium versions) to fit your needs. It may seem intimidating at first, but with a little bit of patience, you can learn how to Enhance Productivity Using Enterprise Project Management Software.

Keep in mind, the right software isn’t the only solution for increasing productivity in a project manager’s toolbox. Have you ever explored web-based productivity tools? If not (or if it’s been a while) check out the Top 10 Best Chrome Extensions For Productivity.

How to increase productivity with the right tools

If you’re struggling with where to begin with all this productivity talk and where to store what feels like compounding project tasks, check out the Best Productivity Software and Tools to Use for Work for guidance as you explore the possibilities.

4. Out-of-Sync Project Statuses

There’s nothing like rushing to meet a deadline for handoff, only to find out the next set of hands is nowhere near ready for implementation. This means that somewhere along the way, there was a break in communication between multiple projects. This could be due to a loosely managed project board, misalignment of project schedules, lack of transparency with stakeholders, or even language/cultural barriers. And more often than not, the underlying reason for misalignment is that leaders (and therefore, their teams) don’t have a clear understanding of where exactly their contributions align with other projects outside of their organizations.

There are many more reasons why projects fall out of sync and it’s up to you, as a project manager, to prioritize Effectively Communicating Project Status to Your Team and Stakeholders.

How to stay synced with up-to-date project statuses

In addition to improving direct communication, be sure project tasks and project statuses are up to date. Check out how to Create Useful Project Status Reports: A Comprehensive Guide for a breakdown of best practices for reporting.

5. Poor Time Management

Have you ever wondered how you were busy all day but can’t pinpoint what’s actually been accomplished? More often than not, this is due to poor time management. Whether you’re managing technology projects or hardware development, time can’t be replaced so it’s important to manage it mindfully if you’re serious about increasing productivity.

Most importantly, set realistic expectations. This goes beyond the obvious implementation of a project schedule. Consider putting an end to multitasking and plan to cut yourself off after an allotted amount of time for one specific task. 

The Pomodoro Technique is an excellent way to see immediate progress after short intervals of time. You’d be surprised how much you can complete after trying it out just once! We’re also huge fans of timeboxing, and so is Harvard Business . It’s another proven technique for maintaining focus and compartmentalizing tasks when you’re feeling overwhelmed from every direction.

Avoid daydreaming about unrealistic expectations. You can’t do it all within eight hours. Progress is a process and once you accept that by setting realistic expectations, you will see tangible results every day. Explore more time-saving options with these Top 8 Time Management Tips To Increase Your Productivity.

How to manage time efficiently

The good thing about learning how to manage time is that it’s not a huge undertaking. You don’t need any special software or tools to get started. You’d be surprised how implementing just one new time management strategy can significantly increase your productivity within just one day! Check out these 5 Productivity Hacks to Complete the Project on Time to help you get started.

6. Company Culture

Turns out, maintaining peak productivity in managing projects isn’t just about using the right tools and methods. You may have the best tools and talent on your team, but without a positive company culture, you’ll never make the most of these gifts. In fact, if you don’t foster a mentally and socially healthy environment, you’re bound to experience decreased productivity. No matter who you are or what your position is, you must equally respect every employee in your organization. At the end of the day, you work with people. Lead by example to set the tone for what’s expected on your team. Keep an open mind every day and check out these 15 Workplace Productivity Killers and How to Fix Them.

How to create a positive company culture

Remember, as a project manager, while it’s your responsibility to keep track of tasks, track progress, and facilitate the team, it’s not your job to perform each individual task yourself (even if you know how). Each member of your team brings a specialized set of skills to the table and they were hired to exercise their strengths to help achieve shared goals. Here’s 5 Ways That Can Actually Increase Employee Productivity.

Stay on Top

If you’ve ever been responsible for a failed project, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure. A life with meaning is a series of trials, errors, and getting back up again. No matter what, keep trying because that’s a part of learning how to become more productive. A good project manager never gives up.

It’s ultimately up to you to decide how productive of a project manager you want to be. Your work hours shouldn’t solely be consumed by task management. A significant part of your job is staying in the know about how to increase productivity. Remember, professional development is multifaceted. This means talking to other project managers, attending relevant meetups, asking for feedback from your team, reading articles and books, listening to podcasts, and more.

Another great way to stay on top as a project manager is to routinely visit the Project Management Institute and even consider signing up for a membership. This organization is “the leading professional association for project management, and the authority for a growing global community of millions of project professionals and individuals who use project management skills.” Just like any other specialized collective of professionals, Project Management Institute is the go-to organization for project managers worldwide.

Speaking of professional development, certifications will not only sharpen your skills set but can be the deciding factor when it comes to getting a promotion or landing your next role. Axelos
(sometimes referred to as Axelos Limited) is an excellent UK-based resource that’s available in over 200 countries. They’re experts in “world-renowned best practice methods (and) frameworks” and offer accredited certifications.

There’s no singular approach to becoming a well-rounded, productive project manager. Check out these related articles from our team to supplement your skillset:


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