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Three Ways You’re Annoying Your Subordinates

Three Ways You’re Annoying Your Subordinates

As a project manager, I’m in a rather unique position when it comes to observing the dynamics of how people interact with each other on a team. I get to see what annoys the workers about the boss, and vice-versa. And the thing is, I notice the same incidents happening over and over again, across teams and industries, which leads me to believe that they’re common human problems, not specific to any one person. Of course, if you knew you were annoying people, you wouldn’t be doing it. So without further ado, here’s three ways you’re annoying your subordinates, and how to fix them. 

Unclear communication

What you’re doing:

This is easily the most common problem that comes up in teamwork, outsourcing, and delegating. Everyone is guilty of it from time to time–including myself! It’s incredibly easy to forget that not everyone else lives in your head and knows what you know. When you get frustrated because something isn’t done right, go back to the original communication (in your head, if you have to) and ask yourself how clear it was what they needed to do. Oftentimes, what happens is that we think we’re clear, and they think they’re clear, but our definition of clear and their definition of clear are two entirely different things.

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What you should do instead:

Obviously, you shouldn’t talk to anyone on your team like they’re an idiot. That said, when you write out instructions or give them verbally, you need to review the instructions and ask yourself: is this stated so simply that a random person off the street could understand what I mean? If not, you might want to think about redoing your instructions. It’s better for something to be stated too simply than be stated vaguely and risk things not being done correctly.

Devaluing their work

What you’re doing:

Nobody likes to feel like their work isn’t important. And most of the time, people don’t set out to intentionally devalue others’ work. But when you only see the end result of someone else’s work, it can be easy to assume that it didn’t take them that long or that it’s simple, and when you have that attitude, it’s going to come through in your communications and make your team members feel unimportant. Another way you might be unintentionally devaluing someone else’s work is by treating them like a lackey and giving them jobs that are far below their skill set–an extreme example of this would be sending someone to get coffee when their job is programming and coding.

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The last but potentially most annoying way you might be devaluing someone’s work is by devaluing their input. There’s not much that annoys a service provider more than someone asking for their opinion, the service provider taking the time and effort to put together an educated response, and then their educated response being ignored entirely.

What you should do instead:

These are all simple solutions:

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  • Go out of your way to express appreciation for the work of your teammates and subordinates, especially when a job is well done. (For bonus points, try and learn a little bit of what they actually did to get the work done–you’ll probably appreciate it even more after that.)
  • Make sure you don’t fall into the bad habit of treating people like lackeys or giving them work far beneath them.
  • Don’t ask for someone’s input if you aren’t interested in actually hearing it and making an informed decision based off of it and the other resources available to you.

Interrupting their work

What you’re doing:

One bad habit that teams get into all too often is dealing with things as they come up. This looks like:

  1. Something comes up that needs to be addressed quickly.
  2. An email gets sent out to team members telling them to drop everything and work on this problem ASAP.
  3. Team members drop what they’re doing and work on the emergency item.
  4. Since team members keep delaying the work they should be working on, the cycle continues – their delayed work sets up another emergency for next week.

This also shows up as calling them repeatedly during the workday without warning, or stopping by their office without warning (if you all work in the same office).

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What you should do instead:

The best way to deal with this problem is to set up workflow and communication systems so that there’s no reason anyone would need to have their workday interrupted with fires to put out. Once you set up those preventative measures, then it’s time to set and enforce new work boundaries–for example, no unexpected calls or office drop-ins between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM. People need uninterrupted work time to get into the flow state, which is where the best quality work is created (and created more quickly!), but they can’t do that if fires are consistently springing up or they’re being interrupted on a regular basis.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

But what does being productive actually entail?

Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

1. Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

2. Turn off Notifications

According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

3. Manage Interruptions

There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

4. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain once famously said that:

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“if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

5. Cut Down on Meetings

Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

6. Utilize Tools

Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

Some examples of tools that could be used:

Communication
  • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
  • Samepage for video conference software.
  • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
Task Management
  • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
  • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
  • Wekan for an open source option.
Database Management
Time Tracking
  • Clockify for a free tracker.
  • TMetric for workspace integrations.
  • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

7. Declutter and Organize

Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

8. Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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9. Drink Water

Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

The Bottom Line

The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

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