Today we explored the topic of managing workload which, if out of balance can be the root of stress, but if managed effectively can be the source of fulfilling and meaningful contribution. It is not just too little or too much; there are qualitative elements to be considered. When quality is impacted there is a risk of dilution of customer service standards and potential risk to reputation and business positioning.
Why Is It Important?
• It follows our theme of supporting employees and understanding their wellbeing
• Get it wrong and it is a source of stress
• Delivering a quality product is still business critical and seeks to differentiate your business
• Having loyal and trusted stakeholders will be important in our ability to weather this storm
What Can You Do About It?
Michelle Quinn of Almond Engineering shared her experiences of having employees at work producing critical parts for ventilators and PPE; other employees working at home and some who have been furloughed. She described the need to respond very quickly to supply and demand in what was an uncertain and at times confusing picture and how they took a position to remain open and keep producing. This was not an easy decision or one that was welcomed by everyone as some felt under possible safety threats for themselves and their families.
However lots of communication, reassurances and many flexible measures has allowed them to keep workshop facilities open and to continue to trade. They have adapted to allow some to work from home and others to take the furlough option. In reaching these decisions they have communicated widely and often, listened to concerns and made flexible arrangements to meet individual circumstances. Her advice was to keep open minded, communicate lots, listen even more and be willing to be flexible.
What Might You Do?
• Think about your culture and whether there is an acceptance of giving and receiving feedback. If there is not how might you change your culture?
• Workload and performance need to be put into context in order to be understood and accepted
• Take time to understand if there are underlying issues and contributing factors
• Strip out the noise and try to get to the real reasons
• Use a coaching style to assist the person to find solutions that are right for them
• Agree next steps and record so that you can monitor
• Listen, listen, listen
• Then do not judge and find a way forward
You might be thinking that this is not the right time. Is there ever a good time and is it more about finding the right way to approach the discussion. There are risks to you, the team and the business if you do not address issues of workload and performance. And furloughed staff will return at some point, bringing back previous habits, standards and practices having been at home for some time. You will need to have your management skills and toolkit at the ready for when that time comes
There are no right or wrong answers. There are no easy answers. But if you ask the question and you put yourself in the position of having a conversation, you are more likely to be able to positively influence and manage workload. If you need advice or support with any of these tricky situations, we are always at the ready to talk it through with you.
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