Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council
These days, it seems business never stops. Projects keep piling up. Workers are expected to accomplish more in shorter and shorter time periods. Not to mention, turnaround times between company and client are shrinking. Too often, businesses may take on too many projects and get caught in this never-ending wave of assignments time-crunched together. It isn't a healthy environment for workers, nor is it necessarily healthy for innovation or long-term business growth.
Instead, what are the ways a business can dial back on their projects or shift their focus to get back to a healthy time-output ratio? And, for those entrepreneurs out there who may not know they need this advice, what are the telltale signs that a business has too many projects going on? Below, 11 members of Forbes Coaches Council share their telltale signs of project overworking and how company leaders can remedy the situation.
1. Workforce In Flight
A key signal of project overload is high employee turnover. Having too many projects results in disengaged and overworked team members who in turn will leave to seek greener pastures in significant numbers. Taking time to prioritize initiatives that align with your organization's vision/mission will help the people you have tasked to reach those goals stay engaged, productive and innovative. - Tonya Echols, Thrive Coaching Solutions
2. Missed Timelines
If your high-performing team begins missing due dates, they are overloaded. While a variety of tasks is a key motivator, lack of focus and multiple No.1 priorities are not. Overworked and overloaded employees tend to focus on tasks that require less effort than the time-intensive ones when they can not achieve them all. Be transparent in your focus and prioritize their efforts to re-energize success. - Chris Stricklin, Afterburner
3. Too Many Meetings
Organizations with too many projects are often drowning in meetings. It's a strong indicator of competing priorities, overstretched resources and less time to do the actual work. To combat this, decision-makers should regularly review the work slate and apply the 80/20 rule. Continue a small number of projects with the potential to deliver the most value. Postpone or drop the rest. - Caroline Adams, Career Change, Transition, and Advancement
4. Project Fatigue
Businesses often learn a bad habit of trying to do many things all at once. One sign that a business has taken on too many tasks is when projects drag on and on. A project that has no end date will always be the end of the organization. Old projects need to be completed before new projects are to begin. Companies can only handle so many projects at one time. - Ken Gosnell, CEO Experience
5. Lack Of Focus
When a business has too many projects going on, most of them are left unfinished with vague metrics and milestones. Chances are there are too many moving pieces that have been brought into the picture too soon. It's time to recalibrate. Revisit the company's long-term goals then determine what the No. 1 thing that will produce 80% of your results. Apply the 80/20 rule to move the needle forward. - Chizzy Igbokwe, The Art of Global Citizenship
6. Workflow Bogging Down
With too many open projects, time is consumed switching between them and workflow bogs down. Our brains require focused time to build momentum and achieve the state of creative flow. Too much context switching increases frustration, anxiety and disengagement and results in lower quality and productivity. Businesses can adopt methods to limit works in progress, creating better results. - Tom Hardison, Generative Leadership Group, LLC
7. Low-Quality Work
As the volume of projects becomes too onerous, quality inevitably suffers. If your business is spread too thinly, you will be unable to execute to the standard that you want to be proud of. Take a step back to determine which projects are the highest priority and will deliver the most impact. Then focus your efforts on those and knock it out of the park. - Tracey Grove, Pure Symmetry Coaching and Consulting
8. Unaligned Words And Actions
If you consistently say to key stakeholders things like "I will have this to you by Friday" or "It looks good for Monday" and you can't complete deadlines, it's time for a focus change. If missing specific commitments to clients continues, it will cause problems for you, including your reputation for quality. When that happens, complaints ensue. Make sure your expectations deliver on your promises. - John M. O'Connor, Career Pro Inc.
9. Change Fatigue
Too many projects or strategies lead to a high level of switching cost. Shifting from one focus to another creates change fatigue -- personally and organizationally. Multitasking as a skill is now finally getting debunked and the value of focus and intention drives results. If you see lower productivity and higher stress, it's time to pare down the list to create energy instead of change fatigue. - Beki Fraser, Focus For Growth, LLC
10. The Blame Game
Communication skills take years to develop, ask any couple this truth. Business relationships are no different. People try to accommodate by saying yes to everything until they realize they've sacrificed everything and aren't getting the things done they need to. What comes first is blame -- the deflection of pain and lost accountability. Learn how to communicate and focus; you can't do it all! - Drew Aversa, Aversa Strategies
11. Over-Tactical Thinking
When staff is in survival mode, managing too much, they become very tactical in their thinking. Emails are transactions, client calls are inconvenient and they cut corners on the quality of deliverables. In a "thrive" mode, people have time to think strategically, go above and beyond, put themselves in the shoes of a client, are more creative, service-oriented and patient. Read the signs. - Joanne Markow, GreenMason
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