Why Your Team Isn't Getting Things Done (And How to Change It)

Ah, productivity. It can be the bane of our existence. Whether your team works remotely or in-house, when your team isn’t on the ball, productivity suffers, morale drops, and revenue goes down.

Worst of all, stuff piles up so that everyone becomes more frustrated and even less motivated. Working on your own productivity is one thing. But how the heck do you make a whole team more productive so that stuff gets done?

The good news is that there is a reason why things don’t get done. If you’ve noticed that your team is constantly missing deadlines and that output is down at the moment, it’s time to address the root of the problems before working on solutions.

Let’s take a look at exactly why your team isn’t getting anything done — and what you can do about it.

Lack of Prioritization

Picture it — a team member has just handed in a low-value task. Meanwhile, that high-value task that you really wanted completing first? It’s still not been done.

The excuse is always the same: “I didn’t know it was a priority.”

The responsibility for this type of thing lies squarely on the shoulders of the team leader. If that’s you, you need to get better at communicating what is and what is not a priority.

But let’s take it right back to the start. First, you need to work out what tasks need to be be completed first and then you need to make sure that your whole team has the same understanding.

Simply assigning tasks via your project management tool isn’t enough. If each worker has a few tasks on their plate, they need to know what the priority is. Otherwise, they’ll most likely focus on what’s easiest for them first, which might leave you frustrated.

It’s a good idea to use a tool like Nozbe to create categories that indicate what priority level each task has. That way, your team members can see what tasks they need to be focusing on next, and which ones can come later.

A Team Full of Strangers

Something needs to be done. But it hasn’t been done.

The reason this time?

“I didn’t know whom to ask.”

A team member needed help but wasn’t sure who to ask. They ended up asking no one, and as a consequence, the question — and the task — got forgotten about.

It’s important that communication is able to thrive in your team, and that everyone knows who each other is, and what their roles are. This way, whenever someone has a problem that another team member can easily resolve, they can just go up to the right person and get it resolved.

If you’re the team leader, make yourself known. If you’re not, make sure everyone knows who the team leader is. Defining your team leader gives you a foundation and you can go forward from there.

An easy way to introduce everyone is to create a Google doc that the whole team has access to. Include the names, roles and responsibilities of each member, as well as perhaps their contact details, and make sure to continually update it.

Too Much Drama and Conflict

Conflict is a part of life. Even the healthiest relationship has conflicts. In fact, a bit of conflict is healthy.

But you know what isn’t healthy? An inability to resolve drama and conflict within your team.

Look, a conflict will arise among your team members. People will fight and argue. It’s natural when a bunch of individuals are cooped up together in an office all day long.

But when you can’t weather the storm, a conflict will bring you down by preventing people from getting stuff done.

While we’re not going to suggest that you make sure everyone who works for you is friends with everyone else, what you need to be able to do is spot the tensions and conflicts and then find a way to resolve them.

This won’t be simple, but what you can do is take people to one side and speak to them. Don’t indulge in the blame game and don’t point fingers, but invite people to speak to one another about their problems. Promote transparency and communication and show that your workplace is a place where people can speak up. Remind everyone that accidents happen and that it’s no one’s fault. We’re all working to the same collective goal, so let’s all try to stay on track.

Lack of a Clear Vision

When you don’t share your overarching vision and long-term goal with your team — or, at least, when you don’t clarify it very well — you can’t then expect them to be as excited and motivated as you.

For team members to truly feel like they’re a part of a project, you need to share your vision with them. Show them where you’re all going with this; what’s the ultimate mission and destiny? Make people feel involved, paint pictures for them. This will fire their motivation, make them feel more responsible and it will make ensure they tackle tasks with more urgency and enthusiasm. This will boost productivity and more things will get done.

Example? Michael, CEO at Nozbe, records videos to demonstrate his vision and company’s progress and goals.

At Nightwatch, every couple of months we take some time to discuss our progress and plans, too, to make sure everyone is on the same page. Now here’s the catch: as a fully remote team, we have an audio call and back the speech up with screen-shared presentations and statistics.

Lack of Accountability

If it’s too easy for someone in your team to say ‘that’s not my problem/responsibility’ you’ve got issues.

You’ve got even bigger issues if it was their responsibility but they weren’t aware of this.

Research has been done on accountability in the office, and it’s been found that one of the reasons we shirk from responsibility is because the overall goal of a project hasn’t been shared with us. Thus, we just didn’t realize the importance of a task — or that it was ours to care about.

To make people more responsible, you can use a project management tool like Nozbe, and you can also improve your own communication. Make sure everyone knows what is expected of them, what their duties are and what task comes under their job role. Don’t fall into the trap of letting your team pick and choose what they do. Make sure they know what they’re responsible for.

Once again, you can use Nozbe to assign roles and responsibilities to people. Delegate tasks to team members so that everyone knows what is expected of them.

Final thoughts

As you can see, there are at least 5 reasons why your team isn’t getting things done. Consider which of these can be applied to your team and then use the tips to resolve the issue and move things forward. The more stuff that gets done, the better everyone will feel.

Make sure to prioritize each task that you set, introduce everyone to everyone via a neat Google doc, find a way to nip drama and conflict in the bud straight away, share your vision with the whole team and make sure each member knows their individual responsibilities.

Aljaz Fajmut
A digital marketer, internet entrepreneur, and the founder of RankTrackr and Nightwatch — search visibility tools of the next generation. Check out Nightwatch blog and follow him on Twitter: @aljazfajmut.