Join Mike Figliuolo for an in-depth discussion in this video Balancing workload, part of Building High-Performance Teams.
- Another key task as the leader of a high-performing team, is how you distribute and balance work across the members of that team. It needs to be done fairly. Note, I didn't say equally, work allocation needs to be done fairly, because you want perceptions of equality, and you want people to work on things they're good at but also that they're excited by. So there are five criteria to think about as you think about distributing work.
First for priority. Priority needs to drive everything. If you've been rigorous in your prioritization process, you need to start at the top of the list. It's based on the team's and the organization's goals. This has to be the first consideration in terms of how you distribute work. If a project is a top priority, and somebody is available to do that work they get that work and you need to allocate it appropriately.
Second, consider the skill set of the people where you're thinking about distributing the work. If they have the right skill set, you're going to get a high quality result. And the end product will be something that meets your customers needs. This also the prevents people from failing because you're not giving them work that they don't have the skill set to perform. You're giving them something they can be successful with. Next, consider availability.
All things being equal in terms of priority and skill set, who is free to do the work? Who has the bandwidth? You should not be shifting resources from one project to another, when you have available resources to pick up that new project. If you start shifting resources around between projects, when you have available resources elsewhere, you're going to lose momentum on that first project, and that project might fail.
Additionally, the people who are on the project are going to be very frustrated. They had the resources they needed and all of a sudden they don't. And it's going to seem like it was at a whim to just move somebody around. And the person who will be most frustrated, is the person who has the resource taken off the project they're succeeding on and put onto something new. Next, you have to think about the development opportunity this project might present for that person.
You should be constantly upgrading your team's skill set. And a way to do that is to give them new work where they're going to learn new skills. Put them in situations where they're going to be a little bit uncomfortable, where they're going to have to step up and learn, and be taught, and be open to feedback and coaching. Because that's how you're going to take your team to the next level of performance. The last consideration in terms of which person gets the work when it comes open, is does somebody have an interest in it? If someone is really interested and really passionate about a project, you should let them take it on.
They're going to be really motivated, excited to do it, and hopefully their performance will follow. Now one caveat here, make sure people don't just gravitate to the work they enjoy doing and they stay away from things that they're not comfortable with. Because, they're going to end up getting pigeonholed and they'll be very narrow in their focus. So if you think about all of these considerations as you distribute work across that team, it's going to ensure that you tackle the highest priority projects with the resources who have the right skills to do it, and it'll be balanced in a way where you're going to execute the project but at the same time you're going to develop your people.
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