Team leaders, managers, and higher-ups in all companies have the goal of reducing the number of mistakes their teams make at work. Sometimes, the solutions require a lot of effort on both sides. On the other hand, in some cases, there is quite a simple way to solve an underlying problem, but communication in the office isn’t encouraged enough. Finally, sometimes you will have to think outside of the box and resolve the problems in an unconventional way.
Before We Start
Firstly, you need to know that problems are unavoidable in any workspace. In other words, it is absolutely natural for employees to make some mistakes, and you will have to accept this risk if you want your business to function at all.
Secondly, expecting your team to work perfectly, or even just at a high level, while not being willing to take responsibility for the problems the management has caused is going to create resentment. Don’t deny you’ve made a lapse, and try to avoid repeating it in the future.
Once you accept mistakes as an inevitability of managing a business, and that they can happen to anyone, you can start preventing and solving them constructively.
Most Common Types of Mistakes
Even though each business is different (depending on the industry but also the company culture and the nature of the employees themselves), there are still some common work-related blunders.
Time and task management work mistakes
This type of mistake is the most influential on the overall state of business. Not meeting deadlines, having too few hands on deck on important projects, clashing schedules, etc. are all avoidable, yet still, happen all the time in professional service companies.
It isn’t only important to finish all tasks in due time. The quality of work is equally, or in some cases, even more important than meeting the deadline. There are many factors that impact the quality of work, including, but not limited to
- Lack of attention
- Being unprepared and needing help
Even though workspaces are primarily dedicated to the company’s goals, the relationships between coworkers are extremely important as well. Even though you can’t expect your entire team to get along perfectly, a level of professionalism is mandatory. That is why you should dedicate your time to creating a positive work atmosphere and avoiding hostility.
Even if the interpersonal relationships in your company are great, that doesn’t mean the business communication is up to standard. Transparency is a crucial part of success and good company culture.
Now, let’s see the best methods to prevent or minimize work mistakes.
1. Track Time, Tasks, and Clients
Understanding how your individual employees, teams, and clientele work is the first step to resolving time management issues. Of course, you shouldn’t use time tracking software to punish and micromanage your team. Instead, focus on developing positive time tracking habits within your team.
Once your employees start tracking their time, they will understand their work rhythm better and be able to utilize the periods of peak productivity to do the bulk of their most demanding tasks.
Also, the time blocking app is a good way to understand your work rhythm and match it to your daily schedule.
When you start tracking tasks and projects, you will be able to make more accurate time assessments for your future clients and reduce the stress on your team.
Finally, business problems can arise without it being your or your team’s fault. To put it simply – sometimes the clients themselves are the root of work mistakes. Tracking time will allow you to identify problematic contracts and re-negotiate or eliminate them.
2. Allow Breaks
You cannot expect your team members to work for eight hours straight. This is completely unrealistic and will create resentment and a bigger turnover of employees. You should accept the fact that most people can’t be at their top performance for such a long period.
Breaks are a great way to release the tension and reenergize. The breaks shouldn’t be only limited to half an hour for lunch but spread out through the workday, so they allow employees to socialize as well.
3. Make the Most out of Technology
Nowadays most offices can find a productivity tool that will help their employees manage their time, create task lists, avoid distractions, all while making work a little more fun.
Of course, you cannot expect every tool to work for each employee. Also, you should only suggest the tools that actually can help your team. Managing multiple productivity apps can reduce productivity since it can take quite some time.
4. Discourage Multitasking
A clear workflow is a great start to avoiding mistakes. That is to say, your employees should be focused only on one task at a time. This will allow them to dedicate their full attention to the work they’re doing.
This way your employees will be able to pay attention to the important details, which will save them and their supervisors time in the future. Additionally, focusing on a single task at a time is going to decrease the time needed for that task.
5. Avoid Overworking Your Team
It is only natural to have to work harder in certain periods. Some businesses experience a lull at certain times during the year, while others’ workload simply fluctuates with the number of clients they are taking on at the moment.
These temporary occasions are going to affect the workload of your team, and are expected. Yet, if they become a staple of working for your company, your employees’ productivity is sure to plummet, and the overwork can also cause a turnover at times when you need your team the most.
Hence, you will have to manage the increase in business by scaling your teams up or hiring temporary help for the most critical periods. Also, you will need to be understanding about their needs at these times.
6. Identify and Reduce Unproductive Behaviors and Distractions
Many office jobs have their employees at the computer for a large part of the day. This opens the possibility for many distractions and unproductive behaviors, whether on a personal level or generally in the company.
You will need to talk to your team about the distractors – most often using social media instead of working – and find a way to prevent them from indulging in them. Sometimes simply raising awareness is enough.
7. Make Sure the Workload is Distributed Justly
It is more important for the workload to be distributed justly than equally. Simply put – a more experienced employee will be less prone to making mistakes. They will also be able to take on more work than their less experienced colleagues.
Sometimes, especially with freshly graduated newcomers, it is necessary to go through additional training, so you are sure they can complete certain tasks accurately and in due time. don’t expect them to do everything perfectly on the first try. If you need to criticize them, make sure to do so in a constructive way. This way you’ll be using a mistake as a learning opportunity.
8. Pay Attention to Interpersonal Relationships Within Your Company
We are aware that people are different, and most of them cannot be friends with most of their coworkers. This is especially true in large companies and teams. That is to say, you cannot expect all of your employees to get along perfectly. Tempers may rise and cause problems.
Once you notice the interpersonal problems (dislikes, gossip, not being cooperative) are affecting your business, you will have to step in and intervene. Different workshops and team-building exercises are a good way to make your team more united.
If a person repeatedly causes problems with their colleagues, you should allow HR to conduct conversations with all sides and decide what is the best course of action. If you don’t have an HR specialist, you may need to find external help to resolve these problems.
9. Make Sure Everyone Is Communicating
The lack of communication within a company is an obvious sign that some changes are due. Keep in mind, this problem may arise independently from interpersonal relationships. Business communication problems include
- Not letting coworkers and managers know about your actions
- Not giving enough detail
- Not communicating regularly
Encouraging detailed and constant business communication on all levels is the key. Set an example yourself, by clearly communicating the expected results, deadlines, and answering employee questions patiently and in detail.
Sometimes the lack of communication comes from the inability or fear of talking about mistakes. Emphasize that it is better to find out about negative occurrences in the company sooner rather than later. If there are some communication issues thereafter, you should identify the source of the problem and resolve the problem either personally or through HR.
Specific Steps to Take
If arguments or miscommunication become a regular event in your company, you may want to prevent them hands-on. In that case, the best course of action is talking to each employee involved, identifying each of their grievances, and then sitting with all of them to find a solution or compromise that will prevent the same lapses in the future.
Some Positive Practices to Improve Overall Business
Here is a list of business practices that can help avoid mistakes on different levels of work:
- Encourage reviewing all written communication and documents for mistakes, typos, inconsistencies, etc.
- Assign mentors to newly employed team members to make sure they are ready to take on all their duties. Mentors should review their younger colleagues’ work and reports
- Define each position’s role and duties clearly and differentiate them from one another
- Have a firm grasp on your goals and check whether you’re on track regularly
- Suggest productivity tools and resources depending on the problem, since there is no universal solution
What About the Management?
Insisting on your team members’ cooperation, accountability, and efforts to avoid mistakes is unjust if you aren’t ready to do the same yourself. That means that you should create a system where it is possible to communicate with the higher-ups without the fear of repercussions.
For example, make your employees understand that asking questions is a positive practice. Many people aren’t ready to do so, even though no one can learn unless they get answers to things they’re uncertain about. Hence, the higher-ups, managers, team leaders, etc. will have to make sure everyone understands their questions are expected and welcome. This means they will sometimes have to explain solutions to the most mundane and well-known problems. In other words, patience and good bedside manner (so to speak) should be cultivated on every level of the company.
Work mistakes can stem from an employee’s personality or the company’s (i.e. managers’, team leaders’, etc.) shortcomings. Whatever the source may be, you should be able to find a solution by either encouraging the employee to reach their full potential (and this, in turn, will benefit them as well) or opening your leadership up to criticism.
Either way, the side that made a mistake must be willing to acknowledge that they were in the wrong. Only then can you have a constructive dialogue that will result in changed behavior and personal and professional growth.
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