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How to Handle a Sluggish and Inefficient Team

Does it ever seem as if things are moving in slow motion? Do you look around the office and feel like nothing is getting done? Or that your people are spending twice the amount of time and only getting half the results?

As frustrating as it can be to grapple with these issues, you aren’t alone. Thousands of business owners, executives, and managers experience these problems on a daily basis. It’s the ones who proactively address the underlying problems with effective solutions that find success.

Signs of Inefficiency and Dysfunction

Every team has its rough spots and issues, but there’s a difference between surface level troubles and deep-seated problems. Here are some signs that your team is struggling with serious inefficiencies and dysfunction at its core:

  • Lack of trust. Trust is the foundation of organizational success. It isn’t enough to build a successful business on its own, but you can’t build one without it. If you notice an undercurrent of distrust in your team, this is a surefire sign of inefficiency.
  • Communication breakdowns. Do processes seem to be characterized by frequent breakdowns in communication? Is there a lack of cohesion when it comes to pushing an initiative through the business and getting from the starting to finish line? Poor communication makes it difficult to maximize efficiency.
  • Lack of goals. Quick: What are your team’s three biggest goals of the week, quarter, and year? If you have trouble formulating a list, then this is a sign that your team lacks focus.
  • Poor decision-making. Your team won’t always make the right decision, but what’s their track record? Is overall decision-making characterized by positive outcomes, or do the results reflect a history of bad choices? Consistently bad decision-making is a telltale sign of inefficiency and dysfunction.

This list could easily be expanded to a list of 10 or 15 related signs and symptoms. However, these four are the most basic. If your team is struggling in these four areas, then you’re almost certainly experiencing a dozen other byproducts. Rather than continue to explore your team’s dysfunction, your time is best spent diving in and remediating the underlying problems.

Practical Ways to Amplify Productivity

From a leadership perspective, you need to be focused on how you can amp up productivity and restore your team from the inside out. Here are some effective, yet practical suggestions:

1. Keep People Accountable

You never want to be seen as the leader who is constantly leaning over his employee’s shoulders, but there’s something to be said for having a culture of accountability. One suggestion is to implement a time and attendance solution into your tech stack to track your team and improve workforce performance. The SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Time Management application is one option.

2. Schedule Productive Meetings

Secondly, you don’t need to schedule more meetings, but you do need to schedule more productive meetings. By making more efficient use of meetings, you can empower your team to spend more time working on tasks that actually produce results. Learn to schedule more productive meetings and you’ll see a direct increase in productivity across the board. Try the Calendar application to streamline this process for you.

3. Clarify Expectations

Each member of your team should have a very clear idea of what’s expected of them every single day that they walk into the office. There should be no internal debate over which task is most important or how to prioritize responsibilities. Tell your people what you want them to focus on and then get out of their hair.

“Also be explicit about how much time you expect people to devote to tasks that crop up from time to time,” Rebecca Knight writes for Harvard Business Review. “Does an unexpected client pitch meeting require a day, half-day or a few hours of prep? To prepare for an upcoming brainstorming meeting, should someone spend an hour or just a few minutes jotting down ideas?”

Adding it All Up

There are dozens of steps that must be taken in order to maximize productivity, promote efficiency, and restore functionality to your team. However, if you practice holding people accountable, scheduling productive meetings, and clarifying expectations, you’ll discover that other pieces have a way of falling into place. Give it a try and see what you think.

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