You don’t have a time management problem……

You may have a fear problem.

There is one persistent issue I see when I look at productivity issues facing issues and teams. It is lack of follow up. All kinds of follow up. It is not just the sales person looking to see if the client is still interested. Lack of follow up plagues people across organisations who may be waiting for a response from a colleague or need to ask a question. The scenarios are virtually limitless. 

Tasks are not getting done and if they are they are often late. When they are late they drag out project timelines, delay innovations, frustrate co-workers and clients and cost the business sales. I have had too many people tell me they are too busy to be constantly following up with other people. Huh? I have had a few tell me they are unclear on what they are supposed to be doing and asking questions could expose them as incompetent. 

sunset-401541_1280So what does a manager do when the pace of task execution is slow? Send the team off to some more time management training? Send them to a course on Outlook? In most cases these solutions will not solve the underlying problem. I believe there is an underlying cause that most people would prefer to avoid…..if they knew it was the root cause. 

I believe in many cases the underlying cause is fear. People are operating from a position of fear across organisations and not many people are paying attention to this. The fear may not be centred in the workplace but fear in any part of a person’s life permeates all parts. I doubt many people would accept their lives have fear impacting their behaviour. Maybe anxiety, stress, doubt and trepidation would be words more acceptable to most. 

It does not take much analysis to identify why fear is so pervasive. Most people are so plugged into the world via non-stop sources of information that they are almost being programmed whether they realise it or not. Although the news is almost always slanted to the negative, we are not aware of what all this input is doing to our state of mind even if it is unconscious. Social media may not always be a source of positivity from friends, family and acquaintances. It could be the incessant urge to check in on social media is adding to anxiety. With all of this going on in peoples’ lives on top of the normal day to day pressures, how could we expect this not to impact work environments.

The work environment may be the place where fear issues can be lessened if not fully resolved. These are just some ideas about how an environment and culture in the workplace may help people to work more effectively and engage.

Train your people, and particularly your managers, in how to identify people at risk or affected by mental illness. There are some excellent resources for this and in Australia check out

Look at engaging a provider of employee assistance schemes or plans, [EAP]. My experience of using such providers for my employees has always been extremely positive. In a couple of cases these services were instrumental in helping people deal with bereavement when they had little or no personal support network.

Ensure your managers are meeting with their people regularly for both formal and informal meeting to discuss work projects and whatever else. It is helpful to foster closer relationships based on some mutual understanding of each person, their personalities, outside interests and issues in the workplace. 

The agenda for formal meetings should always include the chance for employees to identify any issues that are impacting their work. These could be waiting for decisions, lack of resources, lack of clarity among so many others. Get these out in the open and get them addressed.          

ache-19005_1280The senior leadership must constantly communicate the strategy roadmap for the organisation. When done correctly it will seem repetitive. People must have line of sight between what they do on a daily basis and the organisation’s overall objectives. This is essential at all levels of an organisation.

Speak openly and candidly about mental health, stress, anxiety and other issues in the workplace. This will help to remove any stigmas attached to these issues and contribute to people feeling they are in a nurturing culture.

These are just some ideas and I am sure there are many more excellent ones that people have implemented in their teams and organisations. I hope this at least encourages some consideration on the part of leaders and managers of organisations of what causes lay beneath the surface of outward behaviours like lack of productivity.

If you would like to discuss this topic or a situation you are dealing with, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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