Very often managers, team leaders and supervisors are left frustrated and unsatisfied when their employees do not complete tasks they are responsible for. The key question to ask here is why. Why wasn’t that task completed and what can be changed in order for it to be completed in the future?
To answer this question, we explain four simple reasons why a task is not completed efficiently, and believe it or not, motivation is not on top of the list.
A manger may ask an employee to think over a project management software tool for the team. The employee spends three full working days researching vendors’ websites and solutions to bring back a comparison table of software tools. The employee thinks that this will be suitable for the department. However, the manager wanted a list of functional requirements for the software to manage the teamwork for further discussion. The instruction of task and completion of task do not match up. But, why?
It may just be as simple as the employees just do not know what the manager wants to receive as a result of a task. The employee will have their own understanding of the task and situation and, unfortunately for business, are not mind readers.
Who is to blame in this particular scenario, it may well be the manager who has not clearly explained what result they were expecting. However, the employee could be at fault for not asking for task clarification.
Delegating is always a two way process within employment. When a manager assigns a task, they should endeavour to clearly explain the goal of the task and the expected results. This is a key trait of a managerial skill-set; it saves time for both manager and employee. This ability also improves overall team productivity and efficiency; this will be discussed further in our next article.
Receiving an unclear task is often difficult to address and can be misleading. Nevertheless, it is within the employees’ best interest, and responsibility in some cases, to clarify the task and find out exactly what is required and expected. This would also be a sign of a skilled, confident and experienced professional, in any line of work.
The employee may accept and take on a task; although this does not mean they know how to complete it efficiently. Quite often, it can be the case that the employee feels uncomfortable with asking further questions, or even saying no, especially so the person delegating the task is a manager or an executive.
A lack of knowledge is a strong contributor to the incompletion of tasks. Employees do not have enough person knowledge to complete the task, or the employer has not provided enough information and knowledge in order for the task to be completed successfully. However, it can often be the case that many employees take on a task knowing how to complete it in theory, but in practice the results can be so different, take too much time and can be unsatisfactory.
There is only one case where a manager can be absolutely sure that the employee can complete the task, this is when they know an employee has successfully completed similar tasks in the past. But, this cannot always be relied on, therefore it is recommended to agree the correct approach to a task with correct information available, including reviews of the situation throughout to ensure successful completion. These reviews may well include short reports, 10-minute status meetings, sharing interim results, or even just asking the simple questions, how is everything going? Do you understand the task? And so forth.
An employer may set up a task to be completed; they may even tell the employees what is expected as a result. However, without sufficient resources the task just may not be completed as required.
Overstretching the resources can play a negative role in task completion.
These resources can be physical aids such as equipment, software, tools and so forth. The employee may even be experienced and have the correct knowledge; however, poor resources may prevent an accurate completion of the task, if it can be started at all.
Poor resources can also mean manpower, if an organisation does not have the employees to complete a take then this can impact on the quality, the amount of tasks being taken on and the time it takes to complete a task. An employee can be engaged in multiple projects and tasks at once, however overstretching the resources can play a negative role in task completion.
Finally, we arrive at employee motivation. An employee may very well refuse to complete a task, not want to engage in it from the start or even start the task and not complete it to the best of their ability. This could be for a number of reasons, the employee may genuinely not understand why the task is required, they also may not agree with the suggested idea of the task and how it should be done. This is quite often the case for very knowledgeable employees and imaginative workers like programmers and creatives.
As employers, intuitively, they often start on the fourth reason, that a task is not completed due to a lack of motivation. This has a consequence of trying to find a solution at this point often asking, how do I motivate my employees? A theme of which can be reflected as a very popular requirement within training and developing programmes. However, the first three reasons should be reviewed at the first instance, and only when the manager is sure that the problem is not down to resourcing, understanding or lack of knowledge, then one can start to focus on employee motivation levels.
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