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Little frustrated - Managing Productivity

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Old 04-08-12
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Default Little frustrated - Managing Productivity

Ok, apart from my main web dev business I have been involved in another project with a group of others (7 in the group counting myself); it's a very much involved project as we are doing our best to do it the best that we can and we have been discussing and working on it since late January.

Of late I have started to get a little frustrated as it seems there is a few people in the group that are putting the majority of the work in and the others don't seem to be doing as much. I don't mind working hard, but it starts to get under your skin when you start feeling like you're one of the only ones that are working hard whilst the others are sitting back doing nothing.

To be fair though, I do work on the PC and hence I am on it most of the day, which is why I guess I get so much work done; in addition to that there are members in our group with new born babies, some people dealing with personal issues and also health issues, so I can understand to a degree why these members haven't been able to put as much time in as some.

Another factor is, shortly, there is going to be a MASSIVE job to do the web development part, and with me being the only current dev on board, the thought of doing all that by myself is starting to get overwhelming if things stay as they are. We are looking to add another dev, but figure they would be hard to find since they would be joining as a partner and not as a paid employee.

How can I handle this? I don't know what these peoples day to day lives are like so I don't want t call them out, but at the same time I feel if they want the business to succeed they need to make more of an effort.

Has anyone dealt with issues like this before? What have you done? How do I deal with it?

I have thought of perhaps utilising something like a productivity tool where people are supposed to mark down what they have done every week, then when they don't have much to mark down they will realise themselves, "Oh sh*t, I'm not doing much am I!?". But at the same time, am I just giving them another task to do which I may end up having to chase them for and give myself more headaches!?

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Old 04-08-12
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Default Re: Little frustrated - Managing Productivity

There are some significant issues here.
Has anyone been assigned the role as team leader, whose responsibility is it to manage the group?
Have you all clearly defined the roles and responsibilities for each member in the project?
Is the project broken down to individual tasks and each task assigned to an individual or sub group and given deadlines?
Do you have weekly meetings?
From your post I'm guessing no.

If the group has been assembled ad-hoc I think your going to face some challenges. I hope Im wrong.

Steve

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Default Re: Little frustrated - Managing Productivity

It sounds like you have a problem with communication amongst the team. The others may be slacking off, but they may also think that they are doing exactly what they signed up for - without open and clear communication and setting of expectations it's up to each individual to judge whether they are being productive and if they are pulling their own weight. This is never going to work, and if it does it's by chance rather than design.

I'd say you should organize a meeting to discuss this, and as Steve says assign a team leader / project manager and draw up a project plan that assigns tasks to people with deadlines. If you are being overwhelmed with work while the others aren't doing much, then it will be fairly evident on a gantt chart.

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Default Re: Little frustrated - Managing Productivity

Thanks for the responses guys.

We had assigned a team leader/project manager, but he is unable to continue the role until his health improves; we then assigned a interim project manager but he started to get annoyed with the role when he constantly had to chase people up for things/communication was lacking from a few of the others. So I have kind of found myself kinda doing this role myself with the lack of someone else to do it, this on top of everything else I am doing for the project.

We do have working subgroups where each member is included in one or two; however a few of these subgroups are pending start until one of the other groups finishes up with what they're doing; the current workgroup I am involved in we catchup at least 3 times a week for about 2 hours at a time and we have each worked very hard and put in a lot of time into this whilst the other 2 current active workgroups seem to be moving a lot slower; where I find myself having to check in with them rather than them managing themselves.

We tried implementing "review dates" for each subgroup to track progress, but that also required micro-managing to make sure people submitted their progress reports, and I personally didn't feel like being the one that had to chase people up for the reports.

Additionally, when the subgroup puts something forward for review, the feedback seems to be lacking at times.

The people that aren't currently in active subgroups, there are still other things they could be doing, which aren't getting done.

We do catch up for meetings, but they aren't weekly.

We ALL believe in what we are trying to achieve and aren't just a bunch of random people that have been put together; it just seems some of us are more dedicated to putting the work in than others.

I'll have to look into a Gantt Chart, I recall someone in the group mentioned these previously.

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Default Re: Little frustrated - Managing Productivity

My background includes construction management, one of the best tools I've found is a minuted meeting, it's standard practise on all construction projects and forms part of the contract.

Doesn't need to be verbose or complicated but when an action is initiated or agreed in a meeting the person responsible gets to have their name or initials in the right hand column along with a date to deliver, if that item keeps coming up at subsequent meetings it tends to focus attention on the need to set a realistic milestone or re delegate to someone who can deliver.

Not sure about the context your working in and maybe you're already doing this sort of stuff but it sounds as if at some point someone needs to get a bit serious about objectives or give it a miss.

I use Gantt charts a lot, love em, perfect for testing the logic, resource allocation and timing of your process but not much use if people don't read them and respond to task deadlines.

People tend to pay attention to them in construction projects because they are contractually linked to prolongation charges and liquidated damages, nothing like a big financial stick to focus priorities, doesn't sound like your team is playing quite that hard.

Managing groups of people is never easy, reminds me of the old saying ... what's the definition of a camel ... a horse designed by a committee.

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Default Re: Little frustrated - Managing Productivity

Quote:
Originally Posted by CondorCreative View Post
Ok, apart from my main web dev business I have been involved in another project with a group of others (7 in the group counting myself);
Stop right there - 7 is to many!

1-3 would be the max until the project gets going.
You can keep the others in as advisors - but there is no way you will keep 7 people on the same page in the startup phase.

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Default Re: Little frustrated - Managing Productivity

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Originally Posted by ray_223 View Post
Stop right there - 7 is to many!

1-3 would be the max until the project gets going.
You can keep the others in as advisors - but there is no way you will keep 7 people on the same page in the startup phase.
I see what you're saying and is something we have dealt with in the past and is a big reason why we have working sub-groups. Having 7 people is actually a strength in our case and we had a few more in the initial stages until 7 become the official number.

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Old 05-08-12
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It sounds like there are to many chiefs and not enough Indians.

As you seem to be a critical element in project I suggest you stand up and claim leadership of the project and start holding people accountable for their commitment.

You are essentially leading the project as it is however you are doing so with out the authority of some one who owns the position therefor your leadership is unlikely to have the required impact.

Start by drafting a memorandum of understanding detailing what is required by the project and each individual.

Have strict conditions of involvement. You have to be able to rely on your team, if you cannot you must have the courage to take action or your project will suffer.

In terms of the partners with new borns or health issues, as cold
As it sounds you the must force a commitment or exit. Life will always be an excuse, it just gets in the way. There will always be something. This is an attitude that needs to go. It serves no purpose other than to excuse not hitting the target or goal of the project.

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Default Re: Little frustrated - Managing Productivity

Quote:
Originally Posted by CondorCreative View Post
I'll have to look into a Gantt Chart, I recall someone in the group mentioned these previously.
Forgot to mention before, if you do go down the Gantt chart path have a look at

Gantter, it's web based, free and can handle multiple users, just invite them onboard with an email, you can control who can read only and who can edit.

Pretty simple to use if you've done any critical path programming, also will import and export MS Project files (as xml), maybe not the functionality of MS Project ( nowhere near the price either) but we've been using it on construction jobs up to about 2 mill without any issues.

Works out of the box with Google Apps but a Google account is not essential.

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Default Re: Little frustrated - Managing Productivity

Hi

I agree, 7 is alot to have maintain on the same path and focus, especially without extremely defined and assertive leadership. Those that are contributing will be used, probably not in a malicious way but it will happen.

I think the situation needs;
- leadership
- realistic plans and strict step by step achievement deadlines,
- patience and ability to flex BUT with deadlines only changed with absolute justifications,
- accountability! It is ok to do things right but if taking so much time for one role is effecting the group so much, something has got to be done.

Sounds like a tricky task but stay on the path, the fact you are looking for the answers is a good leadership step but sometimes leadership takes hard decisions.

Good luck

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