Busy is a good thing, but if your employees are stretched too thin, it could be hurting the quality of their work. You may not be able to add staff right now, but you can do one thing to ease their stress: Show your employees how to prioritize work assignments.
Conduct a workload assessment
Take time to review what is on each employee’s to-do list. Discuss what they must do now and what they can move to the back burner. Eliminate tasks as needed. When your employees come into work, especially during busy times, they need to know what is top priority and what can wait until things slow down.
Assign priority levels
Whenever you assign new work or tack on tasks, let employees know where it ranks on the priority level. You can say: “This is urgent and must be moved to the top of your list” or “This should only be done once you have completed tasks A, B, and C.”
That kind of direct clarification regarding tasks helps to ensure everyone is always working on their most important assignments first.
Attach deadlines to every assignment
Walt Disney once said: “Everyone needs deadlines. Even the beavers. They loaf around all summer, but when they are faced with the winter deadline, they work like fury. If we didn’t have deadlines, we’d stagnate.”
If you don’t set a deadline for an assignment, you are telling employees that it isn’t urgent or important. They will work first on the tasks that do have a deadline, and slip the new task into the “Someday” category on their to-do list. Or worse, because they assume it’s high priority, so they rush to do it and neglect other work that is actually more pressing.
Set deadlines to tell employees exactly how to prioritize their tasks.
Provide flexibility when possible
If you have some wiggle room, ask the employee to set a realistic deadline, given the person’s workload. Everything can’t be urgent, and at times, you will have to be flexible to protect your employees’ sanity and productivity. Whenever possible, let employees set their own deadlines. They’ll be less overwhelmed, and they’ll also develop their time management skills.
What is your process for delegating to employees, especially during hectic times?
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