5 Steps To Effectively Managing Your Team’s Workload

managing workload

Managing workload for a team is one of the trickier aspects of a supervisor’s job. You have to keep your team members focused and productive while dividing tasks in a way that keeps everyone busy without overwhelming them.

It’s a balancing act that can tip one way or the other in the blink of an eye. That’s why many managers consider this part of their job more of an art than a science.

In this article, we discuss managing workload for your team — be they in-house, in the field, or distributed across the country — and offer tips to improve the process so you can keep your projects and business running smoothly at all times.

What Does Managing Workload Entail?

managing workload with a wall chart

Managing workload is the process of assigning tasks to your team (and each member of the team) that are realistic, sustainable, and fair for everyone involved.

When done correctly, the process maximizes employee performance, reduces churn, and improves efficiency across the board.

With a manageable workload — enough but not too much — team members will feel like they accomplished something during their time at work rather than being overwhelmed because there’s so much left to do.

That’s no easy undertaking, though. It requires you to properly:

  • Scope projects
  • Break them down into manageable tasks
  • Estimate time and effort
  • Know which teammates are best suited for each task
  • Know which teammates are available to take on new tasks

Without an understanding of these variables, workload management can quickly devolve into an activity akin to throwing darts at a list of names rather than the systematic, well-thought-out process it should be.

Why Is Managing Workload Important?

stack of papers that need to filed

We touched on the importance of managing workload correctly at the end of the previous section — it makes the process more orderly and intentional — but that isn’t the only reason to improve the way you assign tasks.

With the right system in place, managing workload correctly yields all kinds of benefits.

1) Reduces Stress

Assigning too much work too often — to an individual or your whole team — leads to high stress.

Prolonged stress that continues without letup leads to lack of engagement, exhaustion, and, eventually, burnout.

Correct workload management acts as a “stress-relief valve” of sorts and prevents all the tasks, jobs, and projects from overwhelming your team.

2) Increases Productivity

Under heavy workloads, employees can only stay productive for an hour or two at a time. But, with the right system for managing who does what, you can increase productivity for everyone on your team.

Doing so ensures that each employee is making the most progress on the task at hand while their productivity levels are high.

3) Boosts Motivation

Managing workload efficiently and with the success of your employees in mind has the added benefit of boosting motivation across the board.

That motivation leads to a happier work environment, more productivity, and a general sense of well-being throughout the office.

4) Improves Path To Project Success

Every project is built on three variables: time, budget, and scope. By properly managing workload, you actively control the time it takes to complete the project.

And, with more control over the time component, you’ll be better able to manage both the budget and the scope.

Steps To Make Managing Workload Easier

managing workload in an office

1) Evaluate Team Workload

The first step to make managing workload easier is to evaluate what your team is doing now and then estimate their total capacity.

To help you in this regard, here’s a basic outline of the process:

  • Create a list of projects and processes for which your team is responsible
  • Determine the timing and scope for each of those projects and processes
  • Break down the projects and processes into smaller tasks
  • Prioritize the projects and processes (and associated tasks) based on importance and deadlines

This will give you a rough idea of what needs to get done each day — and for all the days, weeks, and months to come.

After you’ve identified the needs of your business, factor in activities such as meetings, vacations, and recurring responsibilities. With that information in mind, you’ll be able to determine how much more your team can handle.

2) Build In A Buffer

Think back to previous projects and tasks that you’ve assigned to your team. How often do they go exactly as planned? Chances are, very rarely.

Rather than managing workload according to some impossible ideal, build a buffer into your workflow to allow for slowdowns, illness, administrative delays, and other unforeseen circumstances.

Doing so will prevent uncontrollable circumstances like these from affecting the project as a whole — and your team’s ability to handle the workload — for the worse.

3) Eliminate Conflicts

Man not managing workload well

Now that you know what needs to be done and your team’s capacity for handling the work, it’s time to delve a bit deeper into the process.

As you look at these two aspects of business and team activity, identify the conflicts that prevent your employees from being able to handle the necessary workload.

Once you’ve identified those conflicts, find ways to eliminate them altogether in order to improve team bandwidth.

Here are some suggestions to help you streamline the workflow and be prepared for any speed bumps that may pop up along the way:

  • List tasks in order of importance
  • Balance start dates and due dates for each task
  • Take into account one task’s dependency on another task
  • Talk to your team before assigning work
  • Shift tasks based on workload

In the process, beware of the natural tendency to overestimate what your team can do in the time they have.

4) Set Individual Responsibilities

Once you have a better handle on team capacity and you’ve removed — or, at least, planned for — the conflicts that can degrade that capacity, the job of workload management gets a little bit easier.

In fact, it’s at this point that you switch from a pure project-management point of view to more of a people-management point of view.

You want to set individual responsibilities according to skill, experience, and capability, and you also want to factor employee development into the equation.

Sure, you could always assign tough tasks to your high-performing team members, but that would leave the rest of your employees behind.

At this stage of the game, it might be better for your business as a whole to give an employee a more difficult task even though it will take more time or they will need more help.

Dividing up responsibilities with employee development in mind helps build a well-rounded team that doesn’t depend on one or two individuals to function.

5) Get Regular Updates

After you assign responsibilities and your team gets down to work, workload management is all about communicating with your employees. Take time to talk to each person on your team to find out how they’re feeling about the workload.

Ask them questions like:

  • Do you feel like you have too much work, not enough work, or just the right amount of work?
  • How many hours a day do you feel productive?
  • Is there anything I can do to help you be more productive?
  • What aspect of your workload would you eliminate if you could?
  • What’s the first thing you do when you start work?
  • What’s the last thing you do before you stop work?

If an employee is starting to feel overwhelmed by the workload, you can make adjustments before it becomes an issue and their productivity starts to fall.

Schedule Your Team For Success

Sling for managing workload

Whether you’re managing workload for an in-house team, a field-service team, a distributed team, or a hybrid of all three, the Inch app can help you bring it all together.

Remote and on-site team members can perform a wide variety of tasks from any smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop, including:

  • Clocking in and out of their workday
  • Recording time-on-task wherever they are
  • Communicating with managers and each other
  • Working from a shared task list
  • Getting clarity on work that needs to get done
  • Receiving voice-assisted reminder notifications
  • Completing work assigned to them

Our software even helps you — the one managing everything — improve your own efficiency by allowing you to create, save, and reuse task templates for recurring work assignments so you don’t have to start everything from scratch.

Then, you can break down tasks into specific actions and distribute checklists so your team can easily meet expectations.

And that’s only the tip of the Inch iceberg. With our app, you also get:

  • Powerful scheduling tools
  • Cloud-based schedule distribution and communication
  • A wide range of reports to help you make adjustments for the future
  • Paid-time-off control to help you keep expenses low
  • And much more!

When it comes to managing workload, there’s no better suite of tools than Inch. Take your workforce management to the next level by downloading the Inch suite of tools for free today.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, save time and energy, and keep your team on task, visit TryInch.com today.

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