Staff is Overwhelmed: What Do You Do?

Sections of this topic

    My workers are complaining they have too much to do and too little time to do it. I know we are short two staff people but we are under a hiring freeze. Also I feel, that with economy the way it is, they should be putting in 110%. What can I do?

    Some people can be very productive when they’re under pressure and are juggling multiple tasks with tight deadlines. But project loads, that are consistently unmanageable, can lead to burnout and the associated problems of reduced employee morale, high turnover, and increased inefficiencies and mistakes. You, as a manager, need to do more than acknowledge they are stretched too thin; you need to come up with viable solutions.

    1. First, talk to staff.
    Get a realistic handle on the situation. How do employees view their responsibilities? Are unrealistic deadlines impacting the quality of their work or level of job satisfaction? Perceptions may vary from person to person.
    2. Ask for activity reports.
    Review each employee’s tasks to determine which projects are taking the most time. Make sure the most critical initiatives are getting the majority of resources.
    3. Reward smart work habits.
    Someone who is putting in long hours may be working hard, but is he or she also managing time wisely? Clarify your expectations with employees, and take steps to recognize teamwork, innovative ideas and problem-solving skills.
    4. Get help.
    Bringing in temporary staff to assist during periods of peak activity or for special projects can alleviate some of the burden on full-time workers.
    5. Keep your door open.
    Maintain an environment in which employees are not afraid to ask for help when workloads become too heavy. Be willing to reallocate resources as needed.
    6. Finally, feed the lighter side.
    Bring in food, cartoons, motivational sayings and fun activities often go a long way in letting your staff know you care.

    Management Success Tip:

    Lead by example. Sometimes you need to show employees that everyone has to pull their weight including you. Stay late with your team; make the coffee when the pot is empty; participate in the fun events. And most important celebrate successes, large and small. Those who have a good time together work better together.

    Do you want to develop your Management Smarts?