For teams focused on project-based work, deadlines are imperative. Ask yourself this question: Are you letting procrastination get in the way of delivering projects?
If you're being honest with yourself, you're probably nodding your head in agreement. Procrastination is something that gets the best of us at some point, especially when working primarily online.
Procrastination is a big issue with project teams, whether in-house or a remote project team. Quite a few businesses operate in a fashion where projects are often secondary to daily tasks. If things get busy within an organization, the secondary tasks can be pushed aside in favor of the more urgent daily activities.
The task for the project manager is to keep things moving along. This usually involves learning to work with a few procrastinators. We might even be one of those folks ourselves. Here are a few tips for dealing with procrastination when working on team projects...
Five Tips to Cure Procrastination
Procrastination can kill your projects. If you have a team assigned to investigate an opportunity for your business, you don't want them pushing back the due dates a few weeks or months or longer.
You need to find ways to encourage the team you manage to not only deliver on time, but to deliver their best work possible. It's a difficult thing to do because it requires some behavioral change to get people to consistently work on a project that is long-term in nature. While it's a struggle, there are ways you can improve the process at your company.
1. Mini Project Deliverables
This is the best tip for big projects. It's human nature to feel that when a project is large in scale that it's almost too big of a task to take on. When people feel they can't achieve something because the scope is too large they may struggle to begin.
Setup your projects with mini deliverables in your project tracker and focus on those while also paying some attention to the large goals. You want your team members to feel like the mini goals are achievable and near-term so they see the progress. This will keep them on task and on time when it comes to the project as a whole.
2. Personal Check-In Meetings
In a team setting, it's easy to feel like you're just one of many. A more personal approach can really make each individual on the team feel that their specific role is necessary to the overall success. Setup personal meetings with each team member throughout the process.
Even if your team members are in a different state or country, you can setup things like Google+ Hangouts for your remote teams and have a one-on-one conversation that way. Focus on what they're doing and check in to see how they are progressing. This will give them a chance to express any issues they are having also. They can tell you, the team leader, instead of having to tell the entire group.
3. Manage Tasks to Match Interests
You probably already realize this tip, but it really makes a difference to pair people with something they have shown an interest in already. If someone really has a knack for research, put them in charge of digging up the details for the project. If someone is better at presenting, manage the project so they're in charge of that aspect.
When people are interested in their tasks, they are more likely to meet deadlines and stay on schedule throughout the project. They are also more likely to push fellow teammates if they need something done to begin their part. Peer pressure works for getting projects done too.
4. Stay in Touch
It's a balance when it comes to being involved with people as they work on a project. You want to show interest in their progress, but you don't want to overwhelm them to the point of suffocation either. If you're working with someone that tends to leave things right up until the due date, it makes sense to be more involved in their process.
Let them know how important their work is to the team. Stay in touch throughout the process and encourage them to work ahead. Make sure you express the benefits for them like saving time in the long-run.
5. Share Achievements
I'm a big believer that people need to feel appreciated with their work. Everyone has different levels of requirement for this, but for the most part, people like knowing their work is appreciated. The crazy thing is that you don't have to do much to really make someone feel important and needed. It your teammates are important, be sure to let them know.
When the project is finished or even as the project is in progress, share achievements with your entire team. Keep every employee and stakeholder in the loop with updates. Be transparent. Be specific with employee names and their accomplishments. This is a great way to build a strong team that wants to work with you on future projects.
Is there something you would add? Please share your advice in the comments for other readers.
Posted by Sean Crafts
This article was orginally published in 2014 and has been updated for relevancy and accuracy.