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Let’s face it: you can’t always be on a roll. Sometimes the team’s momentum just slows to a stop and the project hangs there, unfinished while the clock ticks away. Productivity stalls happen and, like writer’s block, they can be agonizing when coming up against a deadline.

What causes this? Is it possible that all of the team’s confidence and ingenuity just vanished? Of course not. In fact, once you understand why this happens, you can fix it and get right back on track. Here are some common causes for productivity stalls and how fix them.

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Stressed out

Elevators have capacity limits, and when that limit is breached, they can fail to function at all. Fourteen people might be riding safely, but as soon as that extra person enters, well… uh oh. Our capacity for stress is no different. It’s that one additional straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Even the most productive workers can stall from too much stress. There might be something going on in their personal lives that’s adding to the stress at work. Be communicative and find out if your employees’ stress level is maxed out. If possible, let everyone take a break or go home early. A little extra rest and relaxation for the team may alleviate some of the stress that is halting productivity.

Communication hang-ups

A major productivity stall is poor communication. Often, simply asking the right question can save hours of time on a project. But if there is a barrier to communication–perhaps an employee is afraid to speak up or a manager is unavailable to help–then the employee may waste hours trying to solve what would normally be an easy fix.

Effective communication is at the heart of successful organizations. There are always going to be conflicts and difficult people and situations, but failing to overcome those challenges could cause tremendous productivity stalls with disastrous consequences.

Managers and team members should meet individually to address any concerns. One-on-one meetings are a great way to get answers to questions that are stalling productivity. Leave no stone unturned when looking for hang-ups. Remember the iceberg theory that our conscious behavior is the 10% that is seen, while true meanings are often buried under the surface. Nurture communication to get to the true issues, and find ways to relieve the build-up of stress. With these things in mind, you can overcome productivity stalls and get back to productivity.

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