Rebecca Hawk is the product manager for ASAE Business Services, Inc.
When you’re operating with a small team on a slew of deadlines, it’s easy to default to delegating tasks to the same people over and over. To prevent burnout in high performers and resentment from less efficient team members, take time to consider how you’re divvying up your staff’s workload.
Many associations operate with lean teams and on tight deadlines. When workloads are especially heavy, most leaders tend to rely on their highest-performing employees to shoulder the extra burden. Unfortunately, this approach can lead to burnout in those employees–and resentment among other staff members who may feel favoritism is at play.
To make sure your team’s workload is as balanced and fair as possible, take a hard look at the work that’s on your staff members’ plates and the goals you want them to focus on.
Before you start delegating work, make sure you understand the projects that need to be divvied up. Often, managers try to delegate in short bursts or on an as-needed basis, but this reactive approach exacerbates the tendency to assign work to the same people repeatedly and can result in unintended impacts on other important projects, priorities, and goals.
To divide up work effectively, set aside some time to get a full picture of the tasks your team needs to complete. Map out the various projects your employees are working on, and then assign priorities to each project and its associated tasks.
Once you’re clear on your team’s current workload and the components that come with each project, it’s time to delegate. To break the pattern of assigning the highest-priority tasks to your best performers, focus on which tasks align with individual team members’ skill sets and development goals, rather than solely on your short-term objective of getting the work done.
Focus on which tasks align with individual team members’ skill sets and development goals, rather than solely on your short-term objective of getting the work done.
For example, if one employee wants to develop his data analysis skills, you could assign him to a research project—even if he might not be the most obvious choice for the job. You can then consider what additional support you may need to provide to ensure he completes the project successfully and on time. With the right structures in place, staff can rise to new challenges and opportunities in ways that far surpass your expectations.
Shifting your focus from efficiency to staff development can also help you identify skills gaps within your team. From there, you can make more informed recruitment and professional development decisions.
As you shift your focus toward balance and staff development, be sure your employees understand the team’s overarching goals, how the tasks and projects they’re assigned contribute to those goals, and why they were given their respective assignments.
Additionally, try to praise high-quality work over speed and quantity. Staff members work at different paces and produce different amounts of work. By emphasizing that you place the most value on a high-caliber work, you set a common expectation and a level playing field.
Chances are that your staff members differ in terms of performance, motivation, and skill sets. As a manager, you know these differences require different management styles. To keep your team on track and check in on progress, try scheduling frequent, one-on-one meetings to touch base with your team members. Individual check-ins will allow you to confirm that team members understand their roles, and they will provide privacy for critical conversations, if needed.
These strategies can help you balance your team’s workload and make you nimbler as your organization evolves. Focusing on staff development will also result in higher staff satisfaction and help boost performance.