Entrepreneurs

Council Post: Increasing Workload? Nine Ways Leaders Can Help Their Small Teams Avoid Overwhelm

When your company has a small team but a growing amount of work, it can be easy to let overwhelm set in. While a big boom of business is often a positive sign of success, it can sometimes feel like a negative side effect when your team isn’t able to handle all the new work that’s coming in.

When you’re a company leader, it’s important to set the tone for your team and to give direction and guidance on how to proceed during such an exciting yet stressful time for the company. To help ensure your small team doesn’t feel overwhelmed, consider the following advice from the members of Young Entrepreneur Council. Below, they share their thoughts on what you can do as a leader to help your team conquer their workload and achieve success moving forward.

1. Clear Their Path

As a CEO, I consider one of my most important jobs to be removing barriers for our team members. Our company is always operating at its best when our team members are able to keep moving without being slowed down by obstacles that are outside of their control. If a team member runs into an obstacle, it’s my job to notice and make sure that obstacle is removed so they can accelerate forward. There’s nothing more discouraging to a team member than not being able to do their job because of something outside of their control. But, conversely, there’s nothing more energizing than being able to depend on your team to make sure you can always run at full pace. So, if you want more productivity from your team, make sure you’re helping to keep their path clear so they can keep powering through. – Alex Linebrink, Passage

2. Seek Clarity And Commitment

In situations like these, we try to achieve clarity and commitment. First, we try to get a clear understanding of what is causing the increased workload for the team. Is it truly because our company is growing, or is it because of our internal inefficiencies (like lack of communication or clear instructions)? Next, once we identify the reasons for the increased workload, we engage the team to help us find solutions (like hiring new people, improving systems or investing in technology or training). This process not only helps us to gain a good understanding of the issues our organization is facing (growth versus inefficiency), but it also guarantees our team’s engagement and commitment because their opinions were taken into account when crafting the strategy. – Feruza Djamalova, Sobirovs Law Firm

3. Delegate And Offer Ownership

When you have a small team but a growing amount of work, start delegating things. Giving your team end-to-end ownership of respective tasks or projects not only increases the sense of responsibility among your employees, but it also breeds trust. Show your team that you have faith in their skills. This will motivate your team to go the extra mile without feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work. – Jared Atchison, WPForms

4. Jump In With Them

Hop in and help out. Obviously, as a leader, your ability to do this in any extremely meaningful way will be limited, but even if you can take some minor stuff off the plates of your team, or even solve a bigger problem, you’ll be showing your team that you’re aware of the increased workload, that you care about them and that you are willing to do something about it. – Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

5. Reward Their Achievements

Reward all achievements, large and small. As a small group with an incredible amount of work to accomplish, people can get burned out and feel overwhelmed. Celebrating all their wins and accomplishments will keep their morale high and remind them that the work is important, appreciated and rewarded. – Mary Harcourt, CosmoGlo

6. Set Priorities

During the initial days of our startup journey, there were always more things to do. When you’re a leader, it is important to work with the team to divide the work into smaller modules and set priorities. The first thing to do is to acknowledge that we can only tackle one or two opportunities or problems at a time. Therefore, just as parents should initially focus on a baby’s motor skills more than the baby’s social skills, as a leader I learned to distinguish critical issues from normal growing pains. It then becomes easier to work with the team to address critical tasks and deal with others later. As the saying goes, “Choose your battles wisely.” Prioritization is the key. What to address now and what can be postponed is important. The team can then single-mindedly focus on what needs to be achieved. – Vinay Indresh, Spacejoy

7. Train Them On The Same Tasks

Build redundancy into your company early on to prevent excess workload and process breakdowns in the event of employee turnover or system failure. Train several individuals on the same tasks so they can cover for each other when needed. This may feel like an unnecessary investment, but it mitigates risk and reduces employee burnout over time. – Jack Perkins, CFO Hub

8. Set Up Processes That Ensure Transparency

We have a pretty small team and lots of work, so we use several tactics to make sure no one is overloaded. We use Asana (a similar tool you can use is monday.com) to collectively manage the projects that we have on board. This way, everyone’s workload is transparent to the whole team and tasks can be easily reassigned to those who have a lighter load. We also tend to hire folks who are pretty well-versed in many skills and who are able to jump into any of the projects or tasks that we have outstanding. This way, no one person is stuck with all the work and people rarely become overwhelmed. We also have regular team check-ins and stay in touch on Slack to review everyone’s workload and to make sure they are supported and can be successful in meeting deadlines. – Anna Anisin, DataScience.Salon

9. Listen To Their Feedback

Make sure your team knows they can offer honest feedback whenever they feel like they need to. A big contributor to burnout is feeling unable to take stock and speak honestly about how overwhelmed you’re feeling. This is especially true for a small business team that’s experiencing a boom of success. No one wants to be the first person to complain or let anyone know they’re struggling. Try to work against this culture. Let your staff know that it’s okay if they’re feeling like they’re taking on too much, and share what they can do to receive help. It’s far more productive to take breaks when necessary than to simply power through and ultimately shut down. A successful team requires cohesion and motivation. Neither is achievable if you’re operating at 110% constantly. – Nick Venditti, StitchGolf

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