The truth is that many small businesses don’t quite have as many people on their team as they would like to have because they’re, well… small (and growing). In the ideal situation, it’s great to have one employee for every position, who performs his or her duties unencumbered by extracurricular tasks, but the reality is that much of the time, everyone has to pitch in to cover unmanned positions.
This could cause serious problems, however, if not done carefully. The following are a few suggestions for managing a team of employees who are carrying the workload of multiple people.
1. Rigorous Organization
When everyone has multiple responsibilities going on at the same, organization is paramount. Who is doing what (down to the smallest task), how long each job takes, how much attention or emphasis should be given to each responsibility, etc.—this should all be worked out in detail.
Not only will it help you make sure everything gets done, but it will make it that much more manageable for your team.
2. Delegation Based on Strengths & Weaknesses
There should be strategy involved when you delegate responsibilities to each individual. Some people can handle stress and a heavy workload better than other people can handle it, which means that you can put the former in charge of more tasks than the latter.
You’re asking for trouble when you place too much weight on a team member who is not well-suited for it.
3. Positive Reinforcement
If there’s one simple thing that employees everywhere get far too little of, it’s positive reinforcement—and it’s especially important when they have a heavy workload.
The point is not to just arbitrarily say, “Good job” every once in awhile (which is generally meaningless); what your hard-working team needs is simply recognition when they actually do a good job. Take the time to notice.
4. Use Technology Whenever Possible
No matter what business you’re in, whatever tools you can find to use will make life a lot easier for you and your employees.
The technology available now can streamline operations, helping you to get more out of your time and resources. This can be anything from POS software in your store, to a scheduling app to keep everyone on the same page.
You might want to ask yourself, what’s in it for them? It’s guaranteed that your employees are asking themselves that question.
It doesn’t have to be much, but even something small, like an extra day off to look forward to, goes a long way to keep your workers focused and motivated.
6. Clear Expectations
The kind of boss who is among the most hated by employees is the one who keeps adding responsibilities to an individual, demanding that they get it done without asking, and providing no compensation or even direction for the added work.
You will have a better relationship with your team, as well as get more productivity out of them, if you discuss the additional work with them and make it clear what is expected beforehand.
7. Avoid Burnout at All Costs
Most likely, you’re only asking your employees to pick up a little extra slack, but even so, it is critical that you keep an eye on their stress levels.
First of all, burnout at work is really tough on the individual; on top of that, when your team starts to get burned out, everything begins to gradually unravel. The first sign of burnout is a good time to reexamine how the workload is being distributed and come up with a new strategy.
For most businesses, it’s just a necessary evil; sometimes you only have enough money to pay a certain number of people—and it’s fewer people than you really need. As long as you keep everything running like a swiss watch and look out for your team, you’ll be surprised how much you can get done with very few people.