I have the topic of procrastination on my mind today, because many of my coworkers have March Madness on the brain and no one seems to be firing on all cylinders. Also, this is a topic I’ve wanted to address for sometime as I have been known to create a to-do list where the only thing I cross off at the end of the day is the “Monday” that I change to “Tuesday”.
So how does one encourage their team to overcome procrastination in the workplace?
- Allow Staff to work on items they believe in/enjoy doing. Working on tasks that you’re passionate about will make the time fly (and not in a “I just watched five hours of college basketball online and got nothing done” kind of time flying way). But working on something you’re passionate about means you’re excited about it and are less likely to put it off.
- Cultivate an environment where workers are comfortable asking questions. When employees are tasked with working on a project that they’re unsure of and are nervous that the output might be wrong—don’t let the fear of failure hold back your team. Encourage them to ask questions if necessary—that is my biggest pet peeve when workers put off doing something because they don’t want to do it wrong—from my experience, my managers have always appreciated when I’ve asked questions, it shows that you’re taking initiative and you want to do a good job. So don’t allow your employees to put it off because they’re unsure.
- Let them know that delegating what they don’t want to do is okay (in some cases). If you’re lucky enough to have an assistant, an intern, or someone on your team that’s willing to help out, let your team know that it’s okay to hand over some of their to-do items to them. The whole idea of having a strong team is that everyone brings different skills to the table. For instance, there might be someone who loves to analyze data, someone who likes to write, and someone who likes to do research on your team. If someone is assigned a project that involves analyzing data and that’s not their thing, that member of your team that is craving to crunch numbers might be begging to take that on—so it all works out in the end.
- Give employees the confidence to say “Yes”. A big reason why employees may procrastinate is because they don’t think they have the authority to say yes, the confidence to ask for something, present an idea, etc… This falls to management to instill confidence in their staff. By giving employees the confidence to take responsibility for a project and the autonomy to get it done in a timely manner, you’ll find that employees will be more productive. If workers feel held back by a manager that is involved in EVERYTHING, the employee will be less likely to take ownership and thus that’s when slacking off and procrastination can take center stage.
- Stay tough, because sometimes they just have to plow through it. When the above options don’t present themselves, sometimes your employees will have to suck it up and get it done (after all they call it work for a reason). The great thing about this is when they’re done—they’ll feel great! That feeling of accomplishment at work is like runner’s high. It’s also a great way to end a busy week!