The success of a project is highly influenced by the quality of work input by the project team. Each team member or employee thus has to put their best foot forward in order to ensure projects are completed up to standard, on time, and within budget constraints.
While some employees will produce exceptional results, others may need your intervention as the team leader or manager to achieve their potential. It is therefore important to devise ways of improving your team members’ work performance if you want to reap the benefits of a highly productive team that meets project objectives. This article highlights project management interventions you can pursue to improve the work performance of your team.
Improving Work Performance Of Your Employees For A Project
As a team manager, your team’s success should always be a priority. Methods of improving work performance relate to different aspects of a project. You should thus evaluate the methods that improve work performance and select those that foster employee improvement and growth for the particular project. Below are different ways you can improve work performance in your projects.
Organize Well And Promote Accountability
You should be organized at all times when executing a project. Organization helps create an effective plan that promotes seamless execution of tasks and ensures team members have everything they require to complete their assigned responsibilities.
Planning can be in the form of a daily checklist or a complex business plan to guide your project. Planning also involves optimizing teamwork processes such as meetings. You can remove unnecessary meetings or improve scheduling to ensure employees don’t waste time in their routines. Proper planning greatly improves work performance and boosts your success rate.
You should also encourage accountability among your team members. Accountability ensures workers complete their tasks carefully and to the best of their ability, ultimately resulting in up-to-standard deliverables. You can foster accountability by setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) goals. To develop SMART goals, ensure that you understand the project requirements well, assign tasks with realistic timelines and utilize a WBS (work breakdown structure) to divide large tasks into small tasks.
The tasks can then be delegated through a work plan. A work plan is a document that outlines the tasks your employees will perform when executing a project. The work plan should be created as an action plan that defines specific tasks to be done, instructions/strategies on how to execute them, and the execution timeline.
A work plan is important in that it helps determine the project requirements, such as budget, resources, workforce, etc., and the deliverables in terms of tasks and deadlines. It is essentially a roadmap for the entire project team. The work plan reduces time and resource wastage, thus increasing the chances of success. It also helps in remaining organized and is used to manage stakeholders’ expectations. The document is further consulted for decision-making throughout the project cycle.
Assign Multiple Tasks
Multitasking is very effective in improving performance within the team. Multitasking involves assigning a single employee multiple tasks at the same time. To effectively assign tasks, you need to rank tasks based on priority. This way, the employee will know the order in which to complete the tasks – from highest priority to lowest. Multitasking helps with the timely completion of activities and swift continuation of work.
It also promotes adaptability as employees are able to take up tasks as they arise; for example, when an employee gets sick, you can reassign their tasks to other employees. This prevents delays and ensures that everything is completed in time for the deadline.
Despite the benefits, without proper management, multitasking can be detrimental to the work and performance of the employees. This is because if employees are overwhelmed by the workload, they may get frustrated, consequently reducing the quality of work.
Another disadvantage of multitasking is tasks may take too long to complete, thus resulting in time sinks (wastage of time) which wouldn’t be the case if a single task was assigned to multiple team members. You should therefore be cautious when multitasking. However, it plays a huge role in managing tasks and improving work performance if well handled.
Milestones help your team meet project objectives by measuring progress against desired results. Milestones also provide a structure to accurately track the stages of projects and motivate team members toward their respective tasks. To set milestones, combine small project tasks into manageable high-level phases that are manageable. Milestones should reflect critical goals within the project cycle. Each milestone ought to be assigned a realistic timeline.
This way, you can develop an execution schedule so that the quality of work is not compromised in favour of meeting deadlines. To effectively set and track milestones, you can use task management software. However, note that not every crucial goal should be defined as a milestone because too many milestones may not bring a sense of achievement to your team. Thus develop a few manageable milestones that simplify team management and encourage the team members to be responsible, focus, and plan on working towards a common goal every day.
Set Clear Goals And Expectations
Planning is a fundamental part of project management. Therefore, you must determine the team’s goals and expectations before executing the project. Goals and expectations help define the team’s direction. There will more than likely be different teams in your project. You should thus ensure each team has goals they are working towards.
The goals should be based on the team’s strengths, weaknesses, working capacity, and other constraints. To set achievable goals, define the main project goal and break it down into smaller goals for the different stages of the project. The goals should be aligned with the company goals, have timeframes, and be reviewed regularly.
In addition, team members should know what is expected of them from the onset of the project. Failure to convey the expectations and work quality may be lowered and, consequently, the team results. It is important to have concrete metrics that can be used to measure the team’s success as the project progresses.
Encourage Your Team To Acknowledge Their Weaknesses
In a work environment, you will have to manage multiple personalities with unique challenges and skillsets. Some team members/employees may have more experience in your project’s field of work, and others may be new. It is imperative to acknowledge this fact so that it does not compromise the overall project efficiency.
Teams that acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses can work in harmony as they are able to focus on supporting each other in accomplishing project objectives. You can request team members to undertake self-assessments to determine their strengths and weaknesses. With each team member’s strengths and weaknesses known, you can divide tasks to suit these factors and redistribute assignments whenever a situation requires handing over to the best candidate.
Encourage Breaks And Time Off When Needed
Workers will inevitably get tired physically and mentally at some point. This can be detrimental to their productivity and work performance. Also, it lowers job satisfaction which can result in a lack of motivation among employees. Exhaustion comes from working continuously. Therefore, you should encourage breaks and time off whenever necessary in your team. According to Glassdoor, in 2017, American employees only utilized 54% of their paid leave while 10% didn’t take leave.
This is because they had a fear of falling behind. Additionally, only 23% of employees were able to utilize their leave to themselves, and others were still handling small work duties while on holiday. This illustrates the need for time off in the workplace.
Time away from work helps the workers reenergize/recharge and break mental blocks, consequently boosting work performance. Breaks and time-offs, however, need to be controlled to prevent excessive absenteeism. Different ways to incorporate breaks and time-offs include organizing team lunch outings, introducing half-day Fridays, and team-building exercises such as “catchphrase” during off-p4eak hours. Also, ensure employees get personal time for friends and family, encourage walks in-between meetings, and promote healthy diets in and out of work.
Distractions are a nuisance in any workplace. They make it difficult for employees to focus and improve their work performance as well as deliver quality work results. These distractions can come from social media, emails, colleagues, phone calls, etc.
To reduce distractions in the workplace, you can create and encourage a quiet environment for people to work. Additionally, there are certain things you can encourage your team members to adopt. These include reducing phone use time by either turning it off, activating “do not disturb,” muting notifications, and setting intervals for phone use between work. You can also promote a culture of employees rewarding themselves every now and then for concentration on work without distractions.
Communication is crucial in project management as you must effectively convey information about tasks, project status, and important decisions among your team members. You should encourage team members to communicate directly with one another when any issues arise. This is possible by encouraging open, free, and timely sharing of information between departments, promoting collaboration and healthy work relations.
This way, you can easily identify the root cause of a problem so that the issue can quickly be resolved. Also, create an environment where you can interact with your workers freely, provide support when needed, and ask questions to formulate resolutions.
Asking questions is encouraged when you notice that an employee is struggling with their duties or their productivity has dwindled below normal. Having personal interactions with team members can go a long way in making them feel appreciated and increase their morale which boosts their work performance. You can utilize project management software to promote collaboration and timely sharing of information between different teams.
Use Project Management Tools
Project management has evolved over the years. Nowadays, there are multiple tools that can aid you in managing your tasks effectively. These tools come with various features to help project managers respond and handle multiple situations efficiently while saving you time and effort. You should, therefore, actively seek tools you can use within your project. To select the appropriate tools, you can adopt the following procedure.
Start by identifying workflows/actions that can be automated. Next, you need to understand how operations and workflows can be rationalized or streamlined. You will thus have to bring in an expert in this aspect of project management. Lastly, bring a colleague or superior with enough experience in automation of projects on board and collaboratively select a suitable tool for the project. Use the software to monitor your project tasks on the go with your smartphone.
Promote Mental And Physical Health
Mentally and physically, people deteriorate after prolonged periods of stress. To avoid this, you should encourage your team to get sufficient rest and exercise to keep the mind healthy and body active. People cannot be productive unless they are healthy. Therefore, promote healthy lifestyles such as walks or bike riding to work if feasible, exercise such as gym, running, yoga, etc., healthy foods, and drinking water within and outside the workplace.
Encourage Desk Cleanliness And Organization
Unclean and disorganized spaces are known to lower work performance. You should thus encourage team embers to have tidy desks. Messy spaces can result in time wastage; for example, if you have piles of unsorted documents, it would be difficult to find documents that you need instantly. Therefore, take the initiative to make sure your team maintains a clean and organized workspace that promotes healthy practices that promote high productivity.
Give Feedback Periodically
You can encourage team members to continuously improve and produce high-quality results by consistently providing feedback on work performed. You can introduce work performance assessments as part of managing the project and as the basis for offering feedback. Periodic assessments promote consistent productivity and delivery from employees as bad poor results negatively represent the employee’s capabilities, something most employees will want to avoid.
Therefore, you can be reassured that the team members will become more committed to avoiding mistakes. Note that regardless of the performance assessment results, you should always give constructive feedback. This shows your willingness to help the employees improve. This, in turn, increases employee loyalty and success rate due to increased productivity.
You can schedule to give feedback maybe once a week. Positive feedback is meant to encourage the team to optimize their strengths, while negative feedback is used to help employees improve on their shortcomings.
Let Employees Learn From Mistakes
Rather than having a strict, no-nonsense approach to handling errors, you should allow your team members to learn from their mistakes before resorting to drastic corrective measures. Mistakes are inevitable. Therefore, as a project manager, you should show a great understanding of that fact. Instead of penalizing or chastising every mistake, consider offering guidance on how to avoid repeating the mistake and how to handle the resulting consequences.
This instils confidence and optimism in employees, which are qualities needed to improve work performance. Also, avoid criticizing every case in the same way. Each case will be different from the other, and different factors, which you have to consider, will thus come into play. However, makes sure to relay what is strictly expected from the employees to prevent employees from making costly mistakes. Employees should know the extent of their freedom to make mistakes
Provide An Enjoyable Working Environment
Invest in a working environment that is enjoyable to work in. Employee loyalty increases when workers are satisfied with their working conditions. Therefore, make sure you provide an open-minded culture, safe and secure environment, positive leadership, and flexible working hours to facilitate healthy productivity. Different ways to create enjoyable workplaces include providing modern and aesthetic working stations.
You can use the services of a designer to style the workspaces to suit current trends while remaining functional. Ensure there is plenty of sunlight and plants within the office space. You can also install recreation tools such as a pool table or table tennis table to keep employees entertained and engaged during breaks. However, ensure these activities do not disrupt normal business workflow. Enjoyable working environments ensure that employees are excited to report every morning, which in turn improves work performance.
Promote New Skills
You can increase team members’ productivity by encouraging them to learn new skills. Continuously learning new skills increases the team’s capabilities and betters its execution. This is because new technology is being developed every day to help people with task optimization, and learning how to better utilize this technology in an organization can help the team at large carry out their responsibilities. This, consequently, increases the success rate of projects within the organization.
Conduct Regular Training Sessions
You can offer training seminars for those interested to keep them up-to-date on technological advances, market trends, and soft skills such as communication and leadership. Providing training and workshops boosts employee interest, leading to a greater chance of positive outcomes and improved work performance.
Schedule Team Meetings
Team meetings are an effective technique for assessing progress. However, the meetings should be scheduled and conducted in an organized manner. Failure to do so leads to negative outcomes such as disruption of workflow, lowering productivity, and creating time sinks. Therefore, the meeting schedule should be intentional and planned in advance. Ensure that every team member knows when meetings are expected to take place.
You should avoid calling for meetings without prior notice. This is because this may find employees unprepared and in the middle of work, thus affecting their workflow negatively. You should also plan the meeting agenda and communicate it to the rest of the team in advance. However, if an emergency meeting is needed, perform a quick analysis of the project progress to be aware of the latest developments within the project. While in-person meetings are preferred, teleconferencing can be effective for holding team meetings for a remote-first company,
Other than the schedule, you should conduct the meeting in an organized manner. Each meeting ought to have a start and end time. This ensures time is effectively managed during each meeting and no meeting is prolonged longer than necessary. While you should designate enough time to the key topics of discussion, discuss all the minor topics at once. This saves the team time and reduces the number of meetings held per project.
As the attendees discuss the agenda of the meeting, you should note the questions raised and brainstorm appropriate solutions. This is a good way of ending meetings where everyone feels their needs have been addressed. After the meeting, you should share the minutes of the meeting (MoM) with team members via email.
Any organization can adopt the different ways discussed to boost productivity levels within their teams. One of the easiest ways of boosting productivity is the development of positive relationships with team members through positive communication among team members. A happy employee is more productive. So it is best to collaborate with employees to improve work performance to complete projects. However, many things can be done to improve work performance within a company, and you should not limit yourself to those provided above.
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