Overhauling Overload: Part Deux

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We received some great feedback from readers last week about addressing personal workload management and in a meeting with one of my clients this week, he told me that while the personal strategies were working, he was more excited about his success in addressing this issue of work overload as a team. He reminded me that just a year ago his team members were working 6 days a week on several of their projects and just recently several of his direct reports told him that they had capacity to take on new projects. His strategies included:

  • Shining a light on the workload issue. Everyone is afraid to bring up the topic except in a few dark corners of the office. This client laid the workload issue out on the table and insisted his team address it in both a personal and organizational manner. Some of their success was related to project’s finishing but other aspects included redistribution of workload among the team.
  • Asking the critical workload questions. What has to be done fast? What has to be done with the best quality? What has to be done regardless of cost? You can have all three if you are doing brain surgery but short of that you may want to look at what projects can be done at 80% and still have success. Even within some of his projects he was able to carve out some that could be done with less intensity.
  • Building team effectiveness: Most teams are not teams but committees. Everyone is protecting their turf rather than committing to the greater good. This approach creates enormous inefficiencies as energies are wasted making sure that “we don’t do more than we have to.” This leader understood the 5 key aspects of team effectiveness and used them to make sure everyone was on the same page.

Openly discussing workload issues will help to defuse a major concern and complaint among many people in our organizations. While it is undeniable that people are doing more with less and that it creates a great deal of pressure in today’s workplace, the situation can be improved.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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