While a good bedside manner and ability to motivate teams are certainly important soft skills for project managers, let’s not overlook a truly important one: removing productivity killers.
You might not know them by that name, but if you’ve ever managed any project or team, you know exactly what a productivity killer is. It’s the action, event, or issue that slows your team members to a grinding halt. It’s the thing that makes an entire day disappear like a puff of smoke. And project managers need to be the ones to identify and remove them before they impact the project.
Interruption Every 8 Minutes
As this post by Andrew Filev shares, the average person gets interrupted every 8 minutes. It’s almost inescapable, but that doesn’t mean that our reactions can’t help make distractions less…well…distracting. Generally what happens is people get wrapped up in trying to solve the problem brought before them, causing them to multi-task and become less effective. The post goes on to say:
One of the most important things in dealing with interruptions is being able to evaluate them “on the fly”. Compare these two situations: Someone found a critical mistake in the monthly report and asks his colleague to fix it, or, a designer can’t decide which shade works better for the brochure background and collects opinions across the entire marketing department. So, suggest that your team members instantly prioritize the incoming interruptions and filter those that can be deferred, delegated to someone else who is available now, or those that don’t even deserve attention and aren’t relevant to work.
Indicate Your Availability
Members of a team who need to dedicate all of their time to work (without typical interruption) might do well to create an “availability sheet” that allows colleagues to know when the most appropriate time is to interact. While this might seem like an egotistical thing to do, it might just be the action that saves you the most headaches.