Managing a project can be a daunting task. Project managers are expected to plan, control, and monitor all the project resources, starting with the budget, time, and the most common human resource element.
They’re expected to foresee all the possible risks and do their best to avoid them.
But sometimes, even a seemingly small setback can wreak havoc on your team’s productivity, and make a huge difference when it comes to whether your project will be completed successfully – delivered on time and within budget, and following high-quality standards.
Here are a few challenges to your team’s productivity that you might expect along the way.
1. Poorly Defined Goals and Objectives
Even though it’s quite apparent that each project should have goals and objectives that are precisely defined, according to executive leaders, a lack of clearly set goals is the most common reason (37%) why projects fail.
If a manager and team members don’t have a very clear idea about what should be achieved, how and within what time-frame – the project is heading towards disaster.
Your team members will never be sure if their actions are having the desired effect, which can cause confusion and a significant decrease in their productivity.
Project goals and objectives need to be achievable and realistic. They should also be easy to measure so that your team members know when you reach a milestone, bringing your project closer to completion.
To overcome this challenge, ensure that your goals and objectives are SMART and that each one of your team members is aware of their role in achieving them.
2. Inadequate Communication
Another challenge that many teams face, and one that can have devastating consequences to the outcome of your project, is inadequate communication.
It seems that leadership may have a lot to do with the quality of communication. Yet, only 13% of employees strongly believe that their leaders communicate effectively with the rest of the team.
The truth is that the project leader is the one responsible for effectively communicating project goals and objectives, as well as the project’s priorities. If there is anything unclear to team members, they should stop working on the tasks assigned to them, and wait for more precise instructions from the manager.
Things can get even more complicated when the channels of direct communication are closed so that employees can’t give their feedback, or ask for support when they need guidance.
It’s of vital importance to keep your team members regularly updated on the status of the project and any changes. Also, it’s essential to nurture open communication and establish a culture of trust in your team.
3. Lack of Skills
Your team members will be most productive, and most likely to achieve the predefined goals, if they’re skilled and experienced enough to perform their duties.
Unfortunately, not all project managers get to choose the staff they are going to collaborate with. Sometimes, team members are assigned to a project because of their availability, instead of their expertise and experience. At other times, teams can be formed out of entirely new hires, that managers have to onboard and manage.
However, unless the staff is trained well, they can put the entire project at risk. You can minimize the risk by determining a core set of skills your team members need to have to accomplish the workload.
Project managers can reach out to new technology solutions when they’re hiring, onboarding, and training their staff.
AI-powered employee chatbots can be used to perform many HR tasks quite successfully, throughout an entire employee lifecycle. Chatbots can be used not only to test candidates’ skills but to advance the capabilities of current team members as well. They can reach out more proactively and frequently to employees, providing feedback on their skills training, performance, and policies.
4. Unrealistic Deadlines
Setting unrealistic deadlines is a huge motivation and productivity killer. The story usually begins with non-viable expectations of clients and stakeholders when it comes to product delivery dates and a highly competitive market.
However, it’s up to project managers to communicate their concerns about meeting the deadlines with their clients or employers, as well as address all the issues that could affect the deadline.
When you set the dates, you should create a timeline of project activities, and monitor whether the milestones are being met.
It’s important to always communicate your progress in real-time with other team members. This way, you may spot all the potential issues and bottlenecks early, as soon as they appear, and do your best to resolve them before they become a problem.
5. Poor Workflow Management
Even the best-laid plans won’t mean much if there are issues with workflow management. Now and then, during the realization phase, the project will deviate from the initial plan. The workflow is there to enhance transparency and increase the accountability of each team member.
If there is an obstacle, it will be recognized right away, and dealing with it will be much easier.
Fortunately, many excellent project management tools, such as Trello or Asana, can be used to create a visual workflow of the project timeline, map out the stages, and organize tasks and activities.
Each of the team members will have information about the status of the task, who it is currently assigned to, and to whom the job will be next assigned to.
These tools can also be used to automate specific tasks, thus saving your team members significant time and energy.
6. Lack of Accountability
Lack of accountability is another team productivity killer that can put a project in danger.
It is most common in teams where managers tend to micromanage, or, to put it more precisely when managers don’t give their staff enough freedom and authority over the tasks they’re assigned to complete.
However, trained project managers are mostly aware that they don’t know and can’t be in control of everything. They empower their team members to actively participate and take ownership of what they do, thus boosting both their productivity and their sense of responsibility.
As long as you’re fully aware of these productivity challenges, you can do your best to address them appropriately and overcome them efficiently.
Editor’s Note: This post was submitted by Michael Deane. Michael’s has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with a huge range of clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has recently rediscovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a daily habit. You can read more of his work at Qeedle.