In a world where we are constantly connected and communicating with each other, it can be easy to feel stressed, overwhelmed, or frustrated when our workloads become unbalanced. An imbalance in the workplace can lead to over-productivity by some team members and under-productivity by others. A lack of workload balance can also lead to employee dissatisfaction and an overall decrease in organization morale.
It’s important to balance the workload among the members of your team. However, it can be a tricky task to do well. In a poll by SmartBrief, more than 190,000 business leaders were asked, “How well do you balance the workload among members of your team?” Here were their responses:
- Very well – work is allocated fairly and effectively: 28.57%
- Well – work allocations are fair for the most part: 61.9%
- Not well – work allocations are often unfair and ineffective: 7.79%
- Poorly – I have a great deal of difficulty allocating work: 1.73%
How you distribute work across the members of your team is a critical factor for your team’s success. It needs to be done fairly to be effective — but note that fairly doesn’t always mean equally. You want your team members to work on projects that not only are they qualified to do but also that they enjoy doing.
When allocating the right workload to each member of your team, Mike Figliuolo, founder of thoughtLeaders, notes five important aspects to consider when assigning tasks, summarized below, so your team members will not only work more efficiently but they’ll also be happier.
Prioritizing your tasks first is key to allocating your team’s workload. Start at the top of your list and work your way down based on how important a task is to your goals. If you have a high priority project and a team member who can complete that project, then he or she should be assigned with that task first.
It’s also important to find the right balance when prioritizing tasks. If your team treats every task as a priority, it may be a sign that your team isn’t thinking strategically, and your team lead or manager is prioritizing tasks at an unnecessary level (aka micromanaging). Instead of scrambling to complete every task as if it were the only important task of the day, your team should discuss how you can better balance the smaller, everyday tasks with the larger, more strategic ones.
2. Skill Sets
If you have a large number of tasks to get through, allocating the workload based on each team member’s skills is an excellent way to assure high-quality results. Paying close attention to who you are assigning tasks to based on their capabilities will increase that team member’s chances of success and completion of a project promptly with little guidance necessary. Equally, be sure to check in with your team members on a regular basis to understand any new skill sets they may have picked up and include those in your future task planning.
Another way to allocate a workload across multiple members of your team is based on each person’s availability. If priority and skill set are equal, who is available to complete the task? There’s no need to shift around resources if you have an available person who is willing and able to get the job done. If you’re organizing your team’s workload from scratch, then start by reviewing each person’s current schedule and workload so you can have a clear picture of what’s going on before allocating additional projects.
When allocating tasks, you should also be aware of how you can provide your team members opportunities to learn a new skill or stretch into new areas of interest. Getting team members out of their comfort zone and working alongside others who can cross-train or teach them something new can be extremely beneficial for organizational creativity and innovation.
Finally, it’s important to consider if a person has an interest in performing certain tasks. If someone on your team is passionate about a certain project, then it’s highly likely he or she is going to be motivated to perform the job well. Just make sure your team is still open to trying new things and not only gravitating towards tasks they enjoy or are comfortable doing.
There will be unavoidable cases when some team members are called on to do more work than others due to the roles each of us plays in our organization or a particular situation that arises during a project. But for the most part, thoughtfully allocating work up front as fairly as possible can help prevent imbalances. So whenever your team’s workload starts to feel out of whack, consider going through each of the five steps above to restore harmony and happiness across your team.