How do managers get the work done without overwhelming the people left behind?

How do managers get the work done without overwhelming the people left behind?

Career Management Series

By Laura Lee Rose

Hello, this is Laura Lee Rose – author of TimePeace: Making peace with time – and I am a business and efficiency coach that specializes in time management, project management and work-life balance strategies. I help busy professionals and entrepreneurs create effective systems so that they can comfortably delegate to others, be more profitable and have time to enjoy life even if they don’t have time to learn new technology or train their staff. I have a knack for taking big ideas and converting them into smart, sound, and actionable ideas.

At the end of the day, I transform the way you run your business into a business you love to run.

Today’s comment came from a busy professional and an entrepreneur:

How do managers get the work done without overwhelming the people left behind?

Project management is the key to a successful reorganization or even simple vacation requests.

When you have your resources accurately allocated in your project schedules, you can properly forecast how long you can realistically delivery your product or service. No one is unduly overwhelmed because the manager has already prepared the necessary steps to compensate for the expected resource changes. This means that he/she has already scoped the amount of work delivered during that period or have borrowed staff from a sister department or even hired temporary help.

Should managers limit how many people can be out on any given day?

When a manager documents vacation requests in advance in their calendar and project schedules – he/she can easily see and forecast the amount of work versus resources. He/she can easily maintain the minimum required number of staff to perform the minimum required service. People that request vacation days after the minimum threshold has been reached will be declined. Employees should be required to request vacation time well in advance – to allow manager to manage the staff count. When employees fail to do so – they risk being turned down.

Any advice for how to do that fairly?

Depending upon the type of work and how passionate the employee is about getting that time off – the employee can offer other management solutions such as finding another staff member to switch their vacation spot with them or completing the work before they are on vacation (and providing contact information if there is a problem with their previously delivered work) or working remotely during that time.

-How can they avoid making the vacation process require more effort than it’s worth (which is what happens when people have to do a ton of extra work before or after they take time off)?

Project management is the key to delivering product services on-time. Once again – a good manager has tracked his/her employees vacations well in advanced in both the company calendar and the project’s schedule. Because the vacations have been properly tracked, the workload has already been plotted to the appropriate (lower) resource availability.

Also a good project manager realistically forecasts project work-effort in a 6 hour day (or less) to accommodate non-project events like meetings, lunch, personal time and daily breaks that are naturally occur during the 8 hour work day.

You must properly manage the resources and delivery flow in your project schedule well in advance to the actual vacation. If your employees are constantly working overtime – the fault lies in the project management and project schedule. Re-work your project schedule with your Recovery Protocol Chart in mind.

Creating a Recovery Protocol Chart

All projects will encounter speed-bumps along the way. A good project manager will acknowledge and work with that knowledge. Just because you don’t know “what will happen” – you know that “something will happen”. And that’s really all you need to know – to prepare for hiccups.

Create, in advance, your Recovery Protocol Chart. This is part of your Risk Assessment and Contingency plans. Decide, in advance, what steps you will be taking when your team is falling behind in your project delivery cycle.

You can decide which attributes you want to attack in any order that your team agrees upon. The below chart is merely of an example. Once again, your team may agree on a different protocol order.

In the below chart, this team decided that they would:

1) Remove features and enhancements from the scope of their delivery, until removing anything else would no longer make sense. For example – if they removed any more “new features” – there would be no reason for the customers to purchase this new version.

2) Once they reduced the scope to that point, they would add resources from other departments or outsource parts of the service.

3) Once they depleted those resources, they would reduce the testing and quality criteria for the delivery. This may mean accepting that they will be releasing the product with known issues and accept taking a hit at the Technical Support department after delivery. They may be hoping that they would have enough time to fix the known problem, such that when the clients do call with the problems – the Technical Support group will already have the fix in hand.

4) The last thing that the team decided to NOT change is the delivery date. They agreed to accept delivering a lower quality product – so not to miss the delivery deadline. This may be because the delivery deadline is aligned with a larger company event or competitor event. They may also decide to “release” on this date BUT only to a limited client base. They may decide to release to clients that will not be using (or accessing) the areas that have the known issues. This strategy allows them to announce the release – but still give a small window of opportunity to fix the known issues before their larger release.


Having these things planned upfront will eliminate much of the stress and overwhelment of those employees left behind.

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