As a manager, it's your job to ensure that your workers are as productive as possible. After all, the better your team's output, the better you all look collectively. But if you're not happy with your employees' performance on the whole, it could be that you're the reason they're not as productive as they could be. Here are a few ways you might be unknowingly wasting your workers' time -- and causing them to fall short.

1. Giving unclear instructions

It's estimated that 66% of employees lose between 30 and 60 minutes of work time per day due to communication problems. If that holds true for your workers, then chances are, some of those issues are stemming from you. In fact, giving unclear directions (or no directions) is a good way to cause your employees to spin their wheels when they could instead be focusing on getting their jobs done. So going forward, pledge to spell things out more precisely for your team, especially when it comes to tasks that you want your employees to work on independently. The better you are at giving instructions, the less time your team will waste figuring out what they're supposed to be doing.

Woman at laptop looking to the side as if distracted

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

2. Not being available for questions

As a manager, you probably have a perpetually loaded plate. But if you don't make yourself available to your employees, there's a good chance they'll waste time on the job in some shape or form. Busy as you might be, make a point of responding to your workers' emails throughout the day, particularly those that contain questions about ongoing projects or tasks. Similarly, understand that not every issue can be resolved over email, and that sometimes, it takes a live conversation to get to the bottom of things. The more available you are when your employees run into problems, the sooner they'll resolve them and get back to work.

3. Scheduling too many meetings

In many work environments, meetings are par for the course. But if you don't take a more judicious approach to scheduling them, you may come to find that your workers fall behind on key tasks and don't use their time efficiently. So take a look at your upcoming meeting schedule and think about whether you can pare things down. If you take steps to map out agendas and get more organized, you might manage to eliminate, say, two meetings a week, on average, for your workers, thereby allowing them more time to do their actual jobs.

At the same time, think about whether your employees really need to attend every meeting you've put on their schedules. If some of that information can be summarized and shared after the fact, you'll save time by allowing your workers to focus on important tasks rather than sit in conference rooms twiddling their thumbs.

4. Not allowing them to work from home

There are certain job-related tasks that require quiet and concentration, like editing presentations or reconciling complex coding issues. If your office environment isn't conducive to letting your employees focus, your next best bet is to allow them to work from home on an as-needed basis. This way, they can tackle their key tasks without distraction.

Some managers, however, are resistant to such flexible arrangements because they fear that workers will respond to that leeway by slacking off. But if you're dealing with employees who have proven themselves to be reliable, responsible individuals, there's no reason not to give work-from-home arrangements a try, at least on a part-time basis. And once you do, you'll probably come to find that your employees waste less time getting sidetracked and instead deliver better results.

The more efficiently your team is able to work, the better things will be for all of you. Avoid these traps, and with any luck, your employees' productivity will improve.

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