Employee procrastination is one of the biggest issues facing the workforce. It slows down productivity, creates issues around workflow, and can lead to lower overall employee morale. According to a study by Marina Pearce from Michigan State University, 95% of adults admit to some form of procrastination. However, the majority of those adults wish to do so less often. The role management takes in limiting this poor work behavior is extremely important. There are several things a person in a managerial capacity can do to limit procrastination and make employees more productive members of the organization’s team.
1) Being Proactive
In general, good stewardship of a team starts with proactive management techniques. This means looking for feedback at appropriate times and developing plans for potential problems well before they arise. If a manager knows they are going to have an issue with employees procrastinating on company time, they must proactively find out what potential distractions might happen at the workplace. For instance, if employees have access to semi-private computers, they might find their way to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter quite often. By knowing this, a manager can put into a place a ban on those websites, and perhaps can have the I.T. department put filters in place, thereby preventing their use. Another issue could be personal cell phones. Putting in restrictions on when employees can use personal devices can proactively stop a lot of reasons for procrastinating.
2) Being Involved
Another thing that managers can do is be more involved and engaged with their employees. A big problem in companies is sometimes managers will take a too “macro” level approach to managing a team. While it is usually a good idea not to micro-manage, it is still a good idea to stay engaged with employees. Asking for updates periodically and asking questions about current projects is a good way to not only keep people on task, but it also gives people a stronger sense of ownership of their work. A lot of procrastination comes from a general detachment from work activities. Asking people how things are progressing gives them a stronger sense of their contribution within a project. It lets them know that their work is critical. Finally, this gives the manager the opportunity to assess where a project is, in terms of completion, and allows them to give timely feedback that they might not be able to give if they aren’t as involved.
3) Stay Positive
Positive reinforcement and feedback will go a long way in solving procrastination problems. A lot of employees procrastinate, because they are unsure of what to do and are too stressed to move forward. If a manager spots an employee not being productive, going to that employee and being negative will only cause the employee more stress than they are already feeling. A positive way to approach an employee would be a simple question, such as asking if they are having any concerns about the current project or if they feel like the level of their work is up to their usual standards. Also, giving positive reinforcement when an employee is incredible on tasks and is doing amazing work, makes them feel more valuable and will help them know that their work is appreciated. Understanding that criticism is not negative feedback is important as well. When approaching an employee with a criticism, make sure that they know that the criticism is only about the present performance and not an overall judgment of their character.
4) Keep work Task Oriented
Management should make sure projects are task oriented, with clearly defined goals and time-table. This puts pressure on an employee to perform without nagging about them. They should also make sure that tasks are easy to understand and be ready to answer any questions if there is anything that isn’t understood. This also means being knowledgeable about the entire process on the manager’s end as well. A manager doesn’t need to necessarily understand how to do a task, but they should be able to define it and explain the problem clearly.
No matter what field a manager is in, employee procrastination can be a killer of workplace productivity. However, with a little adjustment and following the above mentioned steps , a lot of issues can be proactively resolved and projects execution can be much more successful.