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Is Procrastination Costing Your Company Big?

December 9th, 2016

Procrastination and distraction can easily derail any one of us, and no matter how naturally organized we may be, we’ve all felt the pull of these productivity drainers at one point or another during the course of our careers. The temptation to procrastinate rises up when and where we least expect; intelligent people are more likely to succumb to it, and—for reasons that defy science—the projects that excite us and inspire our passion the most tend to be the ones that we’re most likely to put off…probably because these projects can seem overwhelming and the bar of expectation we set for ourselves can be unrealistically high.

But if you have serial procrastinators on your team, or employees who procrastinate for so long that their deadlines come and go before they begin to buckle down, then it may be time to take action. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Talk to your procrastinators; don’t scold them.

Don’t assume that your most incorrigible procrastinators are lazy or uncommitted—In fact, the opposite may be true. But this doesn’t excuse behavior that can undermine your company and alienate your clients. Sit down with your worst offenders and ask them to explain why they’re having trouble getting started. Ask what you can do to remove the obstacles from their path. Encourage them to be honest about their hang-ups, and make it clear that you’re here to help, not to punish.

Avoid swooping to the rescue repeatedly.

If you talk to your procrastinators, and coach them in good faith, and swoop to the rescue when they’re in a crunch, then you’re doing your job as a manager. But if you find yourself bailing out the same person over and over again, or constantly shifting the workload away from a distracted employee and burdening his coworkers at the last minute, it may be time to consider a transfer, or a formal evaluation and performance improvement plan.

Hire non-procrastinators and stop the problem before it starts.

The best way to solve any specific performance or behavior problem is to avoid it in the first place, and recognize red flags during your candidate selection process. Create a list of interview behaviors, resume giveaways, or questionable statements that may suggest your candidate has an issue with deadlines. If you see any of these red flags, ask follow up questions. Keep your questions open ended, for example: “If you have to choose between submitting quality work and keeping a deadline, and you can’t do both, which do you prioritize and why?” Or, “Tell me about a time when you faced a really tough deadline and had to make some hard decisions.” Listen carefully as the candidate answers.

For more on how to spot signs of trouble—or signs of brilliance—during the candidate selection process, turn to the Westchester County staffing team at Merritt.

Strategies for a More Productive Workday

July 8th, 2016

Are you looking for positive, sustainable ways to get your employees to show a little hustle? Would you like to wave a wand and see everyone on your team work a little harder to impress your clients and drive your company forward? If you’re like most managers, you’re wondering how access the hidden, untapped potential in your teams. Does this potential lie in the team, or in your own personal management style? Here are a tips and techniques you can use to bring out the best in your employees.

Ask them.

If you’re guessing and struggling to figure out what might motivate your employees, stop guessing and just ask them. Distribute surveys if you choose, or simply sit down with key members of your teams and engage in an open conversation. Would they respond to monetary motivation, increase competition, learning opportunities, or additional perks? You can experiment with each of these, or you can simply cut to the chase.

Teach and model, don’t dictate.

If you see an employee with an inefficient working style or a messy desk, don’t ignore this easy opportunity for improvement. But instead of scolding and lecturing, describe what works for you. Explain how using digital spreadsheets and scheduling apps can reduce the drifts of paper, and show your employee how dividing large tasks into smaller ones or tackling bigger challenges first can improve daily productivity. We often assume that basic principles of efficiency and productivity were taught in the earliest years of childhood, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes employees simply don’t know any better. It’s never too late to learn.

Praise publicly.

While your criticisms should always take place in private, feel free to publicly praise employees who work hard, stay focused, and get things done. Clearly communicate the kind of behavior and work ethic you’d like to see from everyone.

Move around the office.

Don’t hide in your office during the day. No matter how busy you may be, make time every hour to get up and circulate around the floor. Check in, say hello, join conversations in the break room, and find out what your employees are up to when they aren’t working. Sometimes the mere appearance of a manager on the scene can break up idle gab sessions and return focus to the job at hand. Be friendly, but present.

Make yourself available.

When employees need help, answers, guidance or direction, make sure they feel comfortable coming to you directly. Paralysis and stagnation often result when employees are at loose ends and not sure where to turn next with a project or issue. If you force them to exhaust every other option before coming to you, you only encourage them to waste time. Be generous, not stingy, with advice and support.

For more on how to keep your employees engaged and in motion all day, every day, turn to the expert Hartford staffing team at Merritt.

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