Project management, time management, and of course, team management are all fundamental skills to practice and sharpen. However, a quite tricky job is to manage the workload and set strategic priorities. The working volume is the basis on which a manager decides which tasks each teammate devotes time on, in a project. Many will answer that if you have enough working hands, “why is it that hard to succeed in workload management?”. So, what can go wrong? How can you recognize the signs of problematic activity within a team project?
Managers and employees can be equally responsible for any project workload balancing problems. However, if team communication is sufficient, then anything can be solved. The real problem is when bridges have not been built properly, and various issues are piling up – issues like lack of strategic priorities, unsuccessful end results, employee breakdowns, and high staff turnover.
In this blog post, we will be exploring all the red flags that point toward a workload mismanagement case. Some of them are more apparent while others need attention to detail, so be on the lookout for any signs.
Top 5 workload management issues to look out for
1. Employees complain about the volume of work
This sign can appear in two forms. First, some employees may complain about the lack of things to do. The ones who do not have enough to do will not feel particularly useful. Doing very little in a team that works hard clearly shows a workload mismatch. In this case, if you have broken a project into stages, then those employees can be given more tasks. If they are in junior positions, they can work next to a more experienced team member. This way, they will not stay empty-handed, and they will also learn valuable working insight.
Second, employees that have a lot of experience and knowledge tend to overwork. In their case, working on multiple projects and having an increasing number of tasks to take care of can be harmful to their physical and psychological health. Having more than enough on their plates is tiring. It could also lead to unwanted burnout in the long term. At the same time, the other employees take on fewer tasks and may not have the opportunity to learn more.
2. Employees are not sure what to focus on
This specific red flag should be easy to detect. If project meetings are not based on clarity and insightful information, then employees may feel confused as to what they should work on. This is more probable to happen if mostly junior employees make up your team. In order to deal with this workload management issue, the project manager should organize team meetings to review everyone’s responsibilities. By focusing on workload analysis, they will be able to concretize each teammate’s roles. Thus, a team member will not get doubts or feel lost while working. Instead, they will know what to do and always go back to work with renewed enthusiasm and knowledge.
3. Deadlines are heavy on your team
Naturally, projects have deadlines that you and the client have agreed on. In the case that your team cannot meet the deadlines, then this unfortunate incident conceals workload management issues. A possible explanation could be the excessive workload. Even though it forces employees to overwork, filled with anxiety, the results are not always delivered on time. So, getting new hires on board will likely solve the problem. However, if your team is big enough to balance the workload of a project, then you should define strategic priorities to solve any workload problems. Workload allocation should be conducted more carefully, and all team members should contribute according to their abilities.
4. Teams deliver results only under constant supervision
A manager’s dream is to collaborate with reliable people who assume responsibility for their mistakes and successfully carry out their tasks. In reality, things are not ideal. If your projects are demanding and your workload management skills are not top-notch, then you may need to check in with your employees, day in and day out. If you have to repeatedly ask team members to do things, then workload balancing and no strategic priorities could be the reasons. Either disorganized workload exhausts your team, or flawed allocation of work gives its members ample time to slack off.
5. Some employees feel discriminated against
Besides communication overload and workload imbalance, you have a duty to pay attention and even act when your employees express that they feel unfairly treated. This is the old tale of favoritism, which, unfortunately, is still around. Employees complain that they overwork compared to others and receive insufficient salaries, or they are not assigned enough tasks to get more experience. In these situations, unfair workload management originates from unacceptable managerial preferences and attempts to exploit or discriminate amongst employees. So, to bring back equality to your team, you have to examine your team members’ complaints, see if they are valid, and redistribute work and remuneration in the justest way possible.
How to resolve workload management issues
If you want to find the source of a problem, the best thing to do is fall back on hard data. That is why timesheet monitoring per employee is absolutely vital. It showcases how many tasks each teammate is working on and how much time is spent on them. Task and time allocation can contribute to the success or failure of a project. For example, paying employees for more working hours than a project needs decreases revenue and creates budget problems. Therefore, as a project manager, you should distribute tasks to all the members and find ways to keep the, not so busy, employees occupied. Assigning them to multiple projects is a way to suitably utilize their skills while helping them get professional experience.
On the other hand, if you have allocated tasks appropriately, but the workload overwhelms your team, you still have to act. Especially if a project has recent updates and added requirements, you should ask for a deadline extension as well as discuss extra charges.
Overall, workload management is not easy to achieve. Concentrating on workload analysis, perfecting the way you distribute work, and setting strategic priorities, particularly for big multilayered projects, takes time. All the red flags we have discussed are just pointers that something is already wrong. However, in order to be proactive, monitoring projects and tracking time can prevent workload allocation issues. Plus, having full control over your projects can lead to optimal time management, improved teamwork, and ultimately much-desired success.
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