Merge's Blog

Help your people get better at managing their workloads

Balance and productivity strategist Patricia Katz helps leaders reduce the impact of overload in their lives and workplaces.  As my professional colleague and friend, she agreed to guest-author today, and by doing so, she allowed me to reduce MY overload.  Thanks Pat!

As a conscious, committed, caring leader, the chances are pretty good that you’ve noticed how overwhelmed people become by life’s ongoing demands. You see how exhaustion affects them and recognize the problems it causes in your organization.  The worst thing you can do in a situation like this is to focus just on speed and efficiency. Simply pushing harder is never a long-term solution. In fact, it makes things worse

Here are three positive strategies you can use to help those you lead get a better handle on their loads.

  1. Get real about timelines and expectations. Too much planning goes on in a fact-free environment. Deadlines for new projects and initiatives are announced without input from those who actually know what it’s going to take to deliver. Consult those on the frontlines who will be charged with actually executing these plans before you set expectations and deadlines that drive them to the brink.
  2. Partner with your colleagues and employees in setting priorities. This is something that’s often left up to individuals, yet so much of what we do in the workplace involves other people and our assumptions about their expectations. Hold collective conversations about the relative importance of different tasks. This gives people sound information on which to make their decisions, and leaves them feeling well supported.
  3. Open up the conversation about load. Make it safe to speak up. How to start? Ask two questions each time you delegate something of significance. Question 1: How does this affect what you already have on your plate? Question two: What kind of help do you need resetting priorities?

When you actively raise these questions you convey two beliefs: that people do not have unlimited capacities, and that we’re all in this together. You also make it clear that you expect those with whom you work to be actively resorting priorities as things change on the work-front.

This probably goes without saying, however let me say it anyway. You will be far more effective in helping people deal with role overload if they see you positively modeling these behaviors yourself. You are a pacesetter, a trendsetter, a mentor and a living example to those around you. Govern your actions accordingly.

In many situations burnout may be imminent, but it is rarely inevitable. Give your folks a hand in creating reasonable loads and you’ll generate stronger corporate results while building a more satisfying life and work experience for all.

What are you doing to help your people (and yourself) get better at managing their workloads?  Share your strategies with us!

Subscribe to Pat’s free e-zine Pause, and learn more about easing the load at her websites: http://www.pauseworks.com/ and http://www.patkatz.com/

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