How to deal with unproductive staff without giving them the boot

Every company wants to maximise productivity and ensure that each employee is playing an active role in steering the organisation towards its goals.

It is frustrating being stuck with a team that fails to get its act together. Even a single member of the staff who performs poorly can affects the company’s profitability in the long run. However, it is only naïve to expect all the members of the team to be equally competent and responsible. Sometimes even your most productive employees might get demotivated and start slacking. That doesn’t mean you should keep laying your employees off. At the end of the day, it is your job as a leader to help them manage their work more efficiently.

After you have invested a substantial amount of time and energy in training your staff, there are several other ways to make sure they stay on track. So, the question is, is there a fool-proof method to tackle the problem of an unproductive team?

Here are some ways to help unproductive employees:

Effective Communication

Communicating effectively is critical for any organisation. It boosts morale, improves customer relations and reduces discrepancies. If employees are well informed and involved in the decisions of the organisation, other constituencies are likely to be strong as well. In circumstances where employees are falling short of your expectations, schedule time to discuss the issues they are facing and take a constructive approach rather than pinpointing shortcomings.

Communicate the nature and scope of the assigned tasks to your team members and explain how you have noticed a decline in their work. There are times when employees are going through a tough phase, so it’s important to be empathetic in the way you communicate:

  • Build comfort in talking to your staff about what’s not working and make them feel that their ideas are valued
  • Acknowledge issues, concerns and challenges faced by the employees to create a comfortable working environment
  • Regularly interact with the team and stay up to date to improve employee engagement
  • Set an example for you employees to follow and be the champion of knowledge sharing, transparency and worker engagement.
  • Give people the chance to reboot themselves as it will help them focus better

Integrate an Online Team Planner

The planning and coordination of resources within an organisation is time-consuming and challenging. When information piles up, the time required to look for the right data or file can take hours. An ideal situation would be to have everything available and manageable at the click of the button. This is where a team planner comes in. This a solution for resource management where a large number of employees can be managed easily. When rapid changes are needed to be made in various projects, basic worksheet software has limited functionality. This also increases the chance of making errors.

An efficient team planner can be exceptionally helpful because:

  • It supports the drag and drop functionality for scheduling
  • Warns you when resources are overbooked or if conflicts are created
  • Saves time and reduces the chances of making mistakes
  • Users can also avail resource planning and make necessary changes needed
  • Multi-user software centralises the information and is accessible through multiple devices

You can even schedule projects and resources easily using the calendar system or mobile app and keep everyone up to date with your effective administration. However, this may not be available on all platforms. An example of an online team planner I found that features all of the above can be viewed here if you’re interested.

Balance Work with Social Opportunities

Even though most people believe that a workplace should have a serious environment, there is nothing wrong about having a ‘work hard, play harder’ attitude. Considering the amount of time a person spends at work, a bit of fun is proven to cancel out the stress at work and increase productivity. For example, an extended lunch or a day trip out with colleagues helps improve the relationships and impacts on how they work together. A training session can also be organised to share enthusiasm for new skills, new connections and rekindle old ones.

Organising activities at the workplace can improve the working environment for the employees, irrespective of the kind of work they do.

Breakdown the Project into Smaller Deliverables

An effective project management system is essential for any organisation. With numerous complex projects and tasks aligned, it is essential to have a system that ensures that it is not only completed on time, but with perfection maximising efficiency and productivity

A breakdown of the work structure into smaller, manageable sections makes the work process run smoothly. Few ways to do so include:

  • Break the task into smaller logical parts and view it as a collaboration of smaller projects
  • Keep the tasks in order of priority
  • Assign tasks to the staff keeping their strengths and weakness in mind and make sure they meet the deadline
  • Keep everything clear and well defined, and maintain productive workflow with necessary details
  • Set an achievable time goal and use techniques such as batching, time-keeping and frequent short breaks to further increase productivity.

Be Tough When Needed

There is a long-standing debate on whether one should be soft or tough as nails to inspire respect and hard work among the employees. Most people would agree that the latter is a better option as being a little firm and distant with employees lets them know who is in charge.

People should be judged by the quality and quantity of work based on merit. It not only makes you a fair leader, but ensures that everyone knows the seriousness of the work and that no one can go ahead by taking special favours. Sometimes it is essential to be autocratic and a little tough on your subordinates. Think of it as a way to improve your company’s overall productivity as otherwise, it will reflect badly on you.

Studies have shown that when leaders are fair to the team members, they display a more appropriate behaviour and are also more productive as a team and individually. Such a culture can mitigate stress and with little skills, one can find ways of being agreeable without being too soft or too harsh.

Invest in Your Space

Everything that you keep in your workspace has a huge impact on how well one can focus and get things done. The arrangement of furniture, lighting and the workstation itself can impact the productivity at work.

According to research, multiple stimuli present in front of us impacts our ability to focus and get assignments completed in an efficient manner. The positioning of the desk such as keeping it next to a window and ensuring a quiet workplace helps employees get into a productive mode.

Google’s model is the perfect example of a creative workplace that has happy and motivated employees who are more loyal and productive. In order to become a successful organisation, develop an environment where everyone can generate ideas, have a voice, raise queries and challenge themselves to become better every day. It is all about owning the place, equipping your team with the right resources and helping them relate to the values and goals of the organisation.

Manage your employees in an effective way as it ensures the growth of the organisation and success that is not only limited to the upper echelon.