When deadlines are missed and goals aren’t met, it is a manager’s instinct to identify a quick solution. What tool can we use to streamline our process, or enable better communication?
It is tempting to think that lagging productivity is something that can just be solved through technology. And it’s just as tempting to assume that these problems never stem from deeply rooted issues with employee morale, how teams coordinate, and managerial standards.
Addressing the causes of low productivity
One of the most common causes of low morale is a poor or lacking relationship with management. While new tools can help facilitate communication between management and team members, they are not capable of creating a meaningful relationship if management doesn’t establish it.
And this is a serious problem, because one study in 2014 confirmed that managers account for 70 percent of employees’ issues with engagement. Passive management, characterized by concepts like the ‘open door policy,’ isn’t enough to create a productive dialogue between management and a team.
If a manager wants to promote better relationships with their employees, streamlining their collaboration with employees through a technological solution can be a very passive way to go about it – especially when that technology is being used to minimize valuable face-to-face time.
Without active engagement with managers, employees often feel disconnected from the results with their work (or in other words, not accountable.) Without addressing these underlying issues, investing in new tools or software isn’t likely to result in anything but wasted resources.
In fact, they can create even bigger problems.
New tools can interrupt your process
One of the most common tools for the productivity-minded manager is project management software to track employees’ benchmarks and progress. Tracking employees’ work is an essential part of measuring and increasing productivity. However, such systems can interrupt employees’ workflow depending on how it is implemented, disallowing them from a work style which they’re comfortable and familiar with.
Even the most surefire tools can exacerbate a team’s problems if they aren’t introduced carefully. Employees may need to be trained in the use of new tools, which can result in a bigger investment of resources than a manager might anticipate.
For evidence of how new tools can create more problems in a work environment, just look to the healthcare industry. Electronic health records, or EHRs, were intended to revolutionize an industry by allowing greater collaboration between medical staff and patients. Instead, doctors have almost unanimously reported frustration with the usability and cost of these systems.
To bring the point closer to home, software can negatively impact how employees plan and carry out their workday in an office environment. Using software for employee evaluation often results in employees carrying out their tasks to ‘game’ metrics for which they’re held accountable, such as when time-tracking software encourages employees to focus on quantity over quality.
While tools can be beneficial in theory, they cannot address problems relating to management style and communication. As great as an all-in-one productivity tool would be, there simply isn’t a way to automate the human touch out of management.
Tim Hand is a writer from Boise, ID who writes about small businesses, marketing, and web development. After earning his Bachelor’s Degree in English at the University of South Carolina, Tim moved to the Treasure Valley to work with internet marketing firms as a content marketer and SEO. Connect with Tim on Twitter @TimWHand.