How much can an employee handle?
Employees move along int their daily routines and take on new assignments that may require an increase in their work effort. In years of management, the typical response from most employees to questions like, “how’s it going?” is “I am really busy!” The truth is closer to the old saying, work expands to fill the time available to do it. This is human nature. There are some people who simply are unproductive time-wasters. Most others expand their work to fill the time available. This creates a dilemma for the manager. How do you know if someone is too busy to take on additional work or a new assignment?
Finding Employee’s Hidden Capacity
For the most part you don’t know. A manager may be fortunate to have highly productive, self-motivated people in their business unit. If they say they are busy, you can usually trust them. These producers are the exception. The most basic technique for a manager to use, to determine the “hidden capacity” of the work unit, is to give them more work. Sometimes, a lot more work. You really won’t know until you push people to higher levels of productivity. If you are delegating a new work assignment and you get push-back that they are very busy, the best approach is to ask clarifying questions. A manager might say…”what are you involved in that is taking all your time? How long will it take to free up some time? What help do you need to free up your time?”
The bottom line it to question their activities and schedule, then delegate the new work anyway. Tell the employee to come to you for help if they really can’t get all the work assigned completed.
Featured Image /Pixabay / CC BY CCO Public Domain