Your Guide to Eliminating Employee Productivity Roadblocks

Maybe your deliverables get stuck in a feedback loop between different stakeholders, or maybe your team has too many unnecessary meetings that interrupt their workflow. Whatever your roadblocks are, identifying and busting through them is essential to staying on track.

What Is a Productivity Roadblock?

A roadblock is something that prevents work from happening. It can be anything from meetings getting in the way of production time to stakeholders who take too long to review deliverables. As a manager, one of your main functions is to eliminate roadblocks and ensure that your team can work without interruption. Roadblocks can happen with: 

  • Inefficient workflows
  • Communication gaps
  • Unclear performance expectations

Some roadblocks are easy to eliminate, such as multi-layered processes that can shed some layers. But some involve potentially bruising egos and calling people out on mistakes, both of which are things that employees may be reluctant to do. 

To get around roadblocks, employees will create their own workarounds to avoid escalating the issue, but those workarounds come with their own pitfalls.

Roadblock Workarounds Can Cost Time and Create Mistakes

Workarounds can often mean your staff are dealing with incomplete information or aren’t receiving buy-in from key stakeholders. The employee using a workaround means well but doesn’t always have the full picture. 

For example, if Derek has had a hard time getting information out of a particular team member and finds a way to get that information himself instead, he may not be getting the right or most up-to-date information. It may be that the team member he should be asking knows how to parse the data better, and it may take time to go through it because they need to eliminate incorrect information that Derek doesn’t know about. 

Asking your team to come to you with roadblocks rather than jury-rigging a workaround can mitigate costly mistakes and encourage collaboration. This also prevents employees from working in silos.

Identifying and Overcoming Systemic Productivity Roadblocks

A roadblock may be something as simple as not having access to the right tool, or it may be something more complex like an unresponsive fellow team member. 

The short-term solution is to find roadblocks and eliminate them from your department - then you can move on to company-wide solutions and long-term processes. Regular meetings with individual team members where you ask them what their biggest “pain points” are will help you identify roadblocks. Encouraging them to bring these to your attention before they become big challenges is critical during those one-on-ones, too.

Once you start identifying roadblocks, you’ll likely notice a pattern of employees running into the same things, which you can take note of to make long-term fixes. 

The next step is to ask employees to come to you if they are seeing potential issues with meeting deadlines based on roadblocks. Being proactive rather than reactive is always the best-case scenario. Following up with anonymous surveys will give staff a chance to identify issues without fear of reprisal.

Recommend Tech Solutions to Identify Roadblocks

Most project and task management tools, such as ClickUp or Asana, have “blocks” baked right into the workflow. This clearly identifies if a task is blocking another task and gives management insight into tasks that have been blocked too long. If you aren’t using task management tools, they are excellent for productivity and organization, and you should start. They go a long way to solving most of the problems that create roadblocks in the first place, as long as everyone in the organization is making full use of them. 

Ask your staff to start indicating “blocking” tasks in the tool you are using. If, for example, Sally has to provide spreadsheets from accounting so Mike can create the Q2 report, Sally’s task is a “Block” task for Mike’s report. 

This is also where the magic of data-driven employee insights starts. You can use combined analytics from your PM tools and Prodoscore, our employee productivity monitoring solution, to identify problems before they start. 

You may notice that one particular staff member is blocking a large number of tasks - just flip over to Prodoscore, and you’ll probably see that they are overwhelmed with projects. Management will then know to take some of the blocking tasks off of their plate and give them to other staff that are not critically overburdened.

Dealing With External and Short-Term Roadblocks

Once the core internal roadblocks have been identified and eliminated, the only remaining ones will be those coming from outside the organization and short-term items, such as an employee being out sick. 

When the right employee productivity software  is in place, you can see all of an employee’s assigned tasks, and you will have the ability to reassign them as a manager, so that sort of thing is easy to deal with. External roadblocks are another matter. In order to have visibility over these, make sure external factors are listed on tasks and assign them as a “blocking” task. For example, if a client needs to review something, you would assign it to your internal contact for that client and assign it as a “blocking” task. This reminds the responsible account manager to nudge the client for responses and gives visibility to management.

Transparency, Communication, and Tech: Your Productivity Roadblock Busters

Lots of companies talk about being open and transparent, but in practice, this is very difficult to do. It starts with reforming the culture to one where everyone feels like they have value and their feedback will be heard. Regular communication, with pathways for anonymous feedback, will help to start building trust between staff and management. 

Transparency can be reinforced with the right tech solutions, which allow everyone - not just management - a top-down view of what team members are working on at any given time. This helps employees feel like they are pulling together as a team. 

Once good communication and the right tech are in place, that culture of transparency will come to life, and roadblocks will be minimized. They’ll obviously still come up to some extent, but you’ll have visibility of them and a process for dealing with them. Eliminating roadblocks starts with communication and ends with happier and more productive employees - as well as a healthier bottom line for your company, which is the main goal.

Do you want to bust through roadblocks? Prodoscore is part of the solution. Contact us today for a full product demonstration and download our ebook to help your business unlock the potential in your employees.

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