Sometimes even the best, most hard-working, efficient employees have a hard time staying on top of their workload. When that happens, it's up to their manager to try and help them out.
1. Understanding Priorities
There are lots of mixed messages that get thrown around during the workday. If you have multiple superiors assigning work for their employees, chances are they're also saying their assignment should be "top priority", whether it's network segmentation or changing the recycling bags. The employee gets back to their desk to start work, and they suddenly have no idea where to begin. That's why it's important for you to help them identify their priorities accurately. It may seem at first like everything needs to be done now, but once they've written out their tasks and assigned values of time, they'll realize there are many tasks that can wait until later that day. Have the struggling employee write out their priorities as soon as they get into the office in the morning, and stick to the list as much as they can.
2. Eliminate Multitasking
Some employees thrive on multitasking, writing emails, and taking phone calls at the same time, getting twice as much done in half the time. But when an employee becomes overwhelmed by their workload, it's unlikely that multitasking will help them, and it's more likely to hurt. Multitasking is more likely to slow down their work and cause them to make errors, so they won't be missing out by ditching the concept entirely. Instead, encourage your workers to eliminate distractions as much as possible during work. When they're working on a specific task, they should have their desktop and phone notifications on silent, and only the work at hand should be up on their screen. This means ensuring that nobody in the office expects the worker to be monitoring their email or IM's while they're focusing on a task.
3. Be Flexible
If you've been in your role a long time, you probably have one way of doing your work and one way of showing others how to do theirs. But it's very possible that your way of doing things won't work for everyone, and that there are other legitimate approaches out there. If your employee seems unable to function with the methods you've provided, listen to them and try to be flexible with making the changes they need. Some managers are prone to micromanagement and are unable to see where their own processes are inefficient. Try taking a step back and letting your employees do their work the way they want to for a while. It might turn out to be better for everyone, and you can always step in if it seems like things are going in a bad direction.
4. Use Planning Software
Some offices still function in very old-fashioned ways that involve lots of memos and in-person meetings during every stage of a project. But some projects need a little extra help. Using planning software to detail the entire project will help everyone understand their roles and see all deadlines at a glance. Your team will be able to communicate and make changes in real-time, making it easier for everyone to stay focused on their tasks and not get distracted by unnecessary meetings or messages. Employees who struggle with time management or handling their workload will have a much clearer way of organizing their work and seeing what they have to do and when.
5. Prioritize Communication
As a manager, you've probably heard this tip a million times, but it's just as legitimate now as it was the first time you heard it. Many times a trustworthy employee suddenly struggling with work can be traced back to a miscommunication. Ensuring that you're always being clear will help prevent a lot of issues.
Rather than punishing employees for falling behind on work, you'll be better off using some of these tips to make their work more manageable. By helping your employees stay on top of their work, you'll be creating a better office environment and earning the trust of your workers at the same time.