Diagnosing and Dealing with Problems of Productivity

So your software development team has had a bit more than a hiccup. Productivity has stalled and frustration is increasing by the day.

You know it’s time to do something about it, but what exactly would that be? After all, up until this point, every single one of your attempts has fallen flatter than a pancake.

If any of these ring true, you could have a morale health problem on your hands.

Causes

An individual’s morale is closely related to job satisfaction, and is highly contagious, both in its positive and negative forms.

Unfortunately, however, when team morale first begins to slip, it may be difficult to spot the root cause of the issue.

This is why it is vital to become aware of its many possible causes:

1. A Lack of Autonomy

As discussed in a previous article, when teams are not given the right balance of autonomy and alignment, they do not feel like they own a problem. Over time, this leads to the stripping of their motivation to accomplish anything meaningful, as they themselves eventually feel like their job is meaningless.

2. A Bout of Monotony

When businesses give employees little to no opportunities for career growth, teams slowly but surely begin to feel bogged down by the endless routine. This, of course, is exceedingly dangerous, as it often leads to higher turnover rates.

3. Inadequate Leadership

Unpleasant as the thought may be, poor morale may also be synonymous with poor leadership skills. This is why the first thing project managers should do, as soon as they notice a slump in productivity, is to turn inwards. This ensures that they are doing all they can to keep teams both alert and motivated.

4. Personal Problems

Although certainly less obvious, team members may also be dealing with significant challenges at home. This usually limits itself to specific individuals, but as briefly touched upon, morale has the power to spread like wildfire. This means the issue should be contained as quickly as possible, in the most sensitive and appropriate way.

Treatment

For any of the above causes, the main course of treatment is clear communication.

By making use of practices like retrospectives and continuous feedback, team leaders are able to detect sagging morale before any irreparable damage has been inflicted.

And on that note, when mistakes have finally been located, these must also be dealt with both positively and constructively.

Even when going through intense periods of adversity, morale can be boosted with nothing but a keen, conscious effort to use mistakes as a chance for growth.

The magnitude of an error should never be treated as the main issue. Instead, the end goal must always be to make people feel supported and happier in their roles.

Prevention

While communication tools are excellent to deal with morale problems, only a true change of mindset can prevent past issues from reoccurring.

Invest Time in People

Of course, there is no secret morale-boosting formula, but thinking of employees first and foremost as people goes a very long way. Just like in a family setting, a workplace should ideally consist of an environment in which people feel safe to express their thoughts. So take the time to ask your developers how they are doing.

Cultivate a Sense of Purpose

Telling people what to do is easy, but it does absolutely nothing to make them feel as though their work is appreciated. On the other hand, giving individuals as much control as possible empowers them to take action and make important decisions. Inevitably, this also leads to unbridled creativity and a heightened sense of purpose and belonging.

Give Praise & Recognition

Lastly, there is nothing more off-putting than being taken for granted.

By making a point of recognising a job well done and praising individuals for their hard-earned achievements, project managers are able to consistently highlight progress and keep teams focused on fulfilling their goals.

Prognosis

When these simple tips are followed to a tee, your company will be set to make a full recovery and return to its old vigorous and dynamic self. We wish you all the best going forward :).

David Blackwood

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