Distributing a workload is most manager’s top priority. Figuring out a way to get everything done, on time, and in the right way is difficult.

Most agencies are comprised of a varying set of skills and team members who work at different paces. Managers often find it difficult to distribute a workload fairly and effectively.

There are common mistakes managers make when divvying up the work. These mistakes mean less collaboration and reduced cohesion within the team.

“It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) that those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”

Charles Darwin

Here are the top five mistakes managers most often make when dividing up a workload, and, more importantly, how to fix them.

1. Not stopping to make adjustments if there is a slow worker

It can be really uncomfortable to talk to a team member about slow production. Often, managers feel the pull of client deadlines and let this employee slip under the radar. There is a reason that this person works slowly. They may not have the skills to complete the project, they may be distracted, or maybe they are just not a fit for the agency.

Solution: Stop and address the needs of slower workers. Yes, it may be awkward to tell them they need to speed up, but this blog post can help address the situation effectively.

2. Giving the top performers more work

Almost all managers are guilty of giving top performers more work. Managers know there are people on the team that can finish a project on-time and with minimal oversight, so they tend to pile up their schedule. The problem with this is that those top performers will burn out or they may leave because of the unfairness.

Solution: When distributing work, check everyone’s availability. The most likely scenario is that the top workers already have a full workload, but there may be someone else available to complete the project. Take a holistic look at the team’s schedule to find out who has time and who doesn’t.

3. Not listening to employee concerns about workloads

Clients can be so demanding that it is near-impossible to have internal check-ins on workloads and scheduling. Clients that call at all hours and expect answers to emails immediately truly prevent any internal management. While managers often ask their employees how they’re doing or how they’re feeling, they often forget to ask them about team workload issues.

Solution: This doesn’t mean the solution is to have a team meeting every day to address this issue. Managers can make anonymous surveys, which help get quieter team members to tand and ask about workload distribution. Does everyone on the team think it’s fair? Does anyone have a suggestion about how to improve distribution? Managers may be surprised to find that the team does not feel tasks are divided equally, or that someone has a unique solution to the problem.

4. Giving tight deadlines without explanation

All marketers face deadlines at some point and have to work long hours to finish a project. This has happened or will happen to everyone in the industry. A mistake managers make, however, is getting a project with a 24-hour turnover time from higher-ups or the client and making demands from the team. This makes it difficult to cultivate a collaborative environment where everyone works until the work is done.

Solution: Take 10 minutes and explain the situation to the team (even to entry-level and intern positions). Maybe there is big news coming out or a marketing emergency, but everyone on the team should know what is happening. This solution may also draw out volunteers that are willing to take on more work or stay late.

5. Setting unclear workflows and approval processes

Once managers assign tasks, it’s important to establish clear workflows and approval processes so that everyone is on the same page. While the work itself may be distributed evenly, the approval process may not be. For example, if a mid-level employee must approval social media posts for 10 clients (even if they do not write the posts), this becomes a problem. Furthermore, the work won’t technically get done if someone starts a project and then passes it off to no one. This is how tasks get lost (and clients get angry).

Solution: Set clear workflows that everyone on the team understands and knows the flow. Once content for client X has a first draft, who edits, who approves, and who sends to the client? Furthermore, it’s important that it’s not the same person who handles all editing, approvals, and client emailing (plus client editing) for all accounts; this may be too much work for one person.

Communication is key

In an ideal world, managers could touch base with their team daily, but this is a time suck, and client demands make this near impossible.

Managers should, however, check in on how they manage workloads to ensure everyone is happy and not overworked.

To learn more tactics to divide a workload, check out this post.

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