Being on the same page as your team is an essential skill for any good manager. When you communicate with your employees, you expect that the advice that you’ve given and the goals that you’ve set have been understood by your reporting staff. You explain to them the realities of the company that have been explained to you by someone higher up the ladder and explain how these realities relate to the work that they’ll be doing. The thing about communication is that, when it’s good, there is a two way flow of information. Sure, you can set all the objectives you like, but if you don’t understand what causes your people to meet these objectives one quarter and miss them the next, there’s hardly a point to the whole exercise. You need to understand the real conditions that your reporting staff is working under, not in terms of quotas and abstracts, but in terms of your colleagues trying to get the most that they can out of their work day. By listening to your employees about their levels of stress or the pressure they’ve been under at work, you can make adjustments to keep those employees from burning out and looking for a new employer.
If you’ve been working your team hard lately, you should probably do a little audit of their spirits. Do they look more tired than usual? Have you been asking them to work longer hours or on the weekend? If you suspect that some members of your team are beginning to show signs of burnout or disengagement, you should have a private, informal 1 on 1 with them. Though they aren’t necessarily representative of the feelings of your staff, getting an in-depth perspective from a stressed employee can give you an idea of how the workload may be affecting others. Is this person usually one of your most productive employees or at the back of the pack? If one of your top performers reveals to you that they’re nearing the end of their stamina, you can bet that plenty of other employees are feeling the same way.
When you know that your employees feel over worked, the best thing to do is have a discussion with them about that work. You should let them know why they’ve been asked to do more and for how much longer it will be. Is this just a 6 month project that they’ll have to power through? Is it a permanent increase in their workload?
If there doesn’t seem to be any sign of their workload decreasing in the near future, you may have to take on another employee or a contractor to help ease the strain on your staff. Your employees have limits and, if you ask too much of them for too long, they’ll either stop caring about what you have to say or simply move on to a different employer. Yes, a full time employee or even a contractor can be a large expenditure, but just consider the cost that you risk accruing by working your staff to the bone. Wouldn’t you rather make 1 or 2 hires now, rather than replace 4 or 5 disgruntled employees that leave later down the line? To measure your cost per hire use our cost per hire calculator here.