Imagine this: it’s the end of the quarter. Your dashboards are Yellow and Red, you’ve missed key deadlines on important projects, and your team is just deflated. They’ve put in long hours and superhuman effort only to finish the quarter with more failures than successes. Morale is low, customer relationships are suffering, other teams are let down because your team couldn’t deliver, and your company’s big strategic initiatives are delayed, again. The problem is simple. People are overloaded - your team has taken on too many initiatives without enough resources, and there’s no chance for success.
Fast forward to the beginning of the quarter - how could you avoid this disappointing outcome?
4 Ways to Prevent Overloading Your Team
- 1. Clarify the Day Job - Scope creep is a very real problem for growing companies. You hired your team members to do something specific, but as the company grows, they take on more and more responsibilities as part of their day job. If your team is overloaded, take the time to stop and clarify each person’s role. Slow down to go faster by reviewing and updating each team member's Job Scorecard. Look out for roles that need to be split due to too many key responsibilities falling on the same person. You may identify the need to hire someone new, or you may be able to redistribute some responsibilities across the team.
- 2. Commit to a Disciplined Plan Rhythm - Once you’ve nailed down the day job responsibilities for your team, get into a disciplined rhythm of quarterly planning where you carefully discuss, debate, and agree as a company on the top 3-5 priorities you will focus on for the quarter. Once you’ve got your company quarterly plan, cascade your plan rhythm to departments or teams, with each team determining their top 3-5 priorities for the quarter, most of which support the company’s plan. Finally, each person should identify his or her own top priorities for the quarter. Asking your teams to take on priorities to help the company move your growth initiatives forward is additional to their day job responsibilities, so you have to be careful in selecting the right priorities to say yes and no to so they don't get overloaded.
- 3. Test Your Plan - After your plan is in place, you should test it before you begin executing the plan for the quarter. In addition to ensuring that your plans are complete and sufficient to help you meet your financial goals and achieve your main focus for the quarter, testing your plan will help you prevent overloading your team. Rhythm software makes this simple by allowing you to filter your priorities by person and ensure each person on the team has no more than 5 priorities. Testing the plan also ensures that you have the right balance between growth priorities and day job priorities. If you have to have tough conversations about waiting until next quarter to start a priority, it is better to know that before the quarter starts than to get halfway through the quarter and realize that you’ve overloaded the team and that priority won’t get done anyway.
- 4. Monitor Your Team’s Energy - Throughout the quarter, keep an eye on how your team is doing on their KPIs and priorities. If someone is statusing Red or Yellow, offer to help that person early, before they get completely overwhelmed. Rhythm 4.0 makes it easy for managers to see how their team members are doing using the new Team Performance Dashboard pictured below. You can see a snapshot of how the team is performing this quarter and dig in to offer help when needed. Another great tool for managers is the new Actions by Person screen. You can check out your team members Actions list for the coming week to see who may have more on their plate than they can handle. You can step in early to see what might be able to wait until next week or who might have the bandwidth to take on tasks from overloaded team members.
Following these four suggestions will help your team find a balance between strategic initiatives and their day job and will bring greater focus on the most important projects for each quarter. Wouldn’t you rather get 3-5 things done successfully every quarter than try for 10 and only complete 2? Give your team the gift of clarity on what’s most important, and set them up for a successful quarter.
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