10 Productivity and Morale Killers That Are Crippling Your Teams

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With all the talk about resource capacity planning, it's easy to forget that productivity and morale play a huge role in your organization's capacity to get work done.

As Napoleon said, "The moral is to the physical as two is to one." 

Here are 10 common productivity and morale killers to watch out for:

  1. Departmental silos / competing objectives - People aren't sure who the internal customer is, which internal customer needs have highest priority, or how to satisfy conflicting needs among multiple internal customers. Also, other needed resources are unavailable or focused on other things in their own area.
     
  2. Inadequate knowledge sharing - Cross-talk is discouraged and facilities for sharing knowledge in real-time is lacking. Thus, people are working without a full set of up-to-date information.
     
  3. Lack of collaboration technology - People don't have an easy way to collaborate on work on a daily basis. This is especially critical for distributed teams.
     
  4. Culture and policy issues that inhibit teamwork - Archaic organizational policies, HR incentives that send the wrong messages, and accepted values and norms are all factors that influence a company's culture, and thus its productivity.
     
  5. Overly complex approval/checkpoint processes where checklists might be sufficient - Nothing slows a project down more that waiting for multiple approvals. If hospitals and airlines can reduce bureaucratic approvals with simple checklists, so can you. Keep approvals to a bare minimum.
     
  6. Redundant process steps - If multiple departments are involved in the chain of processes required for implementation, make sure there are no redundant steps. After all, each group only sees things through their own lens. A good solution is to have a process walk-through with all parties to ensure all steps are indeed necessary, and clarify each steps purpose to the team. Including the customer is even better.
     
  7. Poor leadership/management - Most people who leave a company do so because of their relationship with their direct supervisor (the reverse is also true). Be sure middle management is executing company values and priorities, and that they understand people, can communicate well, and are adept at situational leadership. Otherwise, they'll cripple your productivity as people flounder through their roles with unclear objectives and unsupportive managers.
     
  8. High levels of multitasking/Interruptions - As multiple studies have shown, multitasking decreases productivity. This is especially true for project managers, who, suffer a significant degradation in performance for each additional project they're asked to manage. Limit multitasking and encourage people to block off "downtime" hours during the day to focus.
     
  9. Inadequate tools, software, or training - Broadly speaking, if people don't have the tools, software, or training they need to do their jobs effectively, productivity will suffer. Investing in tools and training is always wise.
     
  10. Little or no intake filters to vet incoming demand vs. capacity - When the flood gates are open to any and all requested projects, your people will be quickly overloaded. Then everything takes longer, mistakes happen, and management wonders why projects slip. The root cause is usually a lack of prioritization or demand intake filters, along with a lack of a capacity assessment to see when the incoming work can be feasibly taken on. 

These ten items were just a sample of the most common factors that inhibit productivity. What factors limit productivity in your organization?


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Jerry Manas is the bestselling author of The Resource Management and Capacity Planning Handbook, Napoleon on Project Management, and more. At PDWare, Jerry helps clients improve strategy execution through tools and processes that align people and work with organizational priorities. Connect with Jerry on Twitter and LinkedIn.