Team leaders and managers are responsible for delegating tasks to team members, as well as trying their best to keep them focused, productive and motivated. Many leaders, however, are experiencing issues with managing a team’s workload efficiently.
Making sure that your team’s workload is divided fairly is not an easy task. You have to make sure high-performers are not overworked and employees who are struggling with a particular task don’t fall behind. Balancing your team’s workload is tough but I am here to tell you how to effectively manage it. After all, workload management is one of the most essential components of keeping your business processes running smoothly.
What is Workload Management?
Workload management means exactly what you think it means — the process of efficiently distributing and managing work, tasks and responsibilities across your team in order to maximize productivity.
You might think it sounds simple but it’s not. Unsuccessful workload management will lead to poor employee performance, employee burnout, workplace conflict, high turnover rates, overall team dissatisfaction and ultimately, a total chaos. Team members will feel overwhelmed or underappreciated which directly affects your business.
If you’re a team leader you must learn how to get high quality results at a faster pace from your team members. That’s why you need to learn how to manage your team’s workload.
Why is Workload Management Important?
When as high as 80% of workers report feeling overworked and close to quitting their jobs, there must be something wrong with the picture. Stressed and overworked people are not engaged, productive or motivated to produce high quality work. And if you want your business to succeed, you need high-performing teams, not overworked and overwhelmed employees.
When you handle workload management correctly, you will see the following things happening:
- Increased teamwork and collaboration within your organization.
- Team members will start delivering higher quality work.
- Deadlines will be met. You will even have tasks performed way before their due dates.
- Employees will be satisfied and motivated.
- Higher employee productivity levels.
- Low employee turnover rates.
- Low employee burnout levels.
- Improved communication and engagement levels.
It all sounds too good to be true, right? Well, if you concentrate on mastering workload management, you will witness all that and more at your company. Let’s take a look at five easy methods you can immediately use to manage your team’s workload efficiently.
1. Utilize a Software
Introduce your team to a workload management tool. The key here is to have the entire organization use a single software, instead of having different teams using different tools.
Utilizing a single software for workload management makes it easier to assign a specific task. Not just that but all data you need such as who is doing what and when the deadline is in one place, instead of scattered across multiple apps, emails or chats.
A single work operating system will provide transparency. You will have the chance to see how long it took a team member to complete a task and based on that observation, you can adjust your workload management accordingly. You will also be able to easily visualize the current workload and if someone is occupied with more than one task, adjust the assignment or transfer it to another team member who didn’t get any tasks today.
2. Understand Your Team’s Capacity
When you’re dealing with multiple projects, plans, tools and deadlines, it’s hard to truly understand how much is the total workload. You must, however, possess that knowledge as it is key to figuring out how much each team member is doing, what they can or can’t take on and how to adjust your workload accordingly. You can figure out what your team’s current workload is by:
- Putting together a list of all projects your team is responsible for. These can be either projects your team is driving or cross-functional work they are contributing to.
- Determine the scope of each project and how much of each project (or process) is your team responsible for. Is it a complex project with multiple deliverables or a smaller one-time project?
- Break down each project into smaller tasks and workstreams. Once you have the big picture, you can break it into smaller chunks so that you get a sense of what your team will be doing on a daily or weekly basis. If the tasks are still too big, go into more delta and break them down into mini-tasks.
- What is the number one priority for the current project? Are there any urgent tasks that need to be completed immediately? Mark all that down so that you know what your team should be doing first. This way, you can create a better schedule and division of labour.
3. Allocate Resources
Now that you know exactly what your team has to do (and for which project), you can figure out who will be working on what and when. That’s the complicated part as it’s not as straightforward as you think it might be.
As a team leader, you should make sure that everyone’s workloads are balanced and manageable. You can do that by:
- Assigning the highest priority task first. Create a to-do list for your team and start with the most urgent tasks.
- Balancing each individual’s workload by using a timeline or a calendar to visualize the tasks. Start and due dates should also be balanced.
- Matching the right people to each task or project. Take into consideration their availability, skills and experience (naturally.)
- Include the team in the conversation. Ask them if they can handle more or feel overwhelmed with the current assignments. When you involve your team members in the planning, they will feel more empowered and encouraged.
- Make sure everyone knows their individual tasks and responsibilities. Double-check during the daily huddle meeting too, if necessary.
4. Regular Check-Ins with Your Employees
You have to be prepared to make adjustments in real time. Don’t for a second think that what you planned will never hit any roadblocks. Regardless of the situation, deadlines should not be missed and clients should not be left disappointed. That’s why sometimes you might have to ask for a little extra effort from your employees.
It’s all about communication and regularly checking in with everyone to make sure they are managing their current workloads. If team members feel overloaded with tasks, make adjustments. If they feel like they can take on more responsibility, give them more assignments.
Don’t forget to communicate the changes with everyone in your team. Consider coaching opportunities to help them become more efficient and organized.
5. Improve Team Efficiency
Encourage your team to develop their own system of managing workload. While you’re managing the project and focusing on the bigger picture, you might not always have the time to delegate every little task that needs to be done. That’s why it’s your responsibility as their manager or team leader to teach them how to balance workload efficiently and be productive workers.
- Minimize the amount of team meetings or any types of meetings as a matter of fact. Efficient meetings take a lot of time and effort to prepare and run so if you don’t have it, don’t spend it on meetings. Have a stand-up meeting in the morning and set things straight as quickly and clearly as possible.
- Give team members examples of professional goals, depending on their individual characteristics. A good example of a professional goal might be to learn a new tool or be better at time management.
- Suggest prioritization methods that will fit each team member’s individual working style.
- Make sure everyone understands how important it is to be organized and to complete the project successfully.
If you want to improve your time and workload management skills, each one of the above-mentioned tips will bring you one step closer to your goal. Remember, workload management is about demonstrating efficiency in assigning work, managing the proper execution of tasks and updating project stakeholders on your projects. Master that skills and things like conflicting deadlines, urgent tasks, high burnout levels and heavy workload will no longer be part of your daily business life.