Increase work pressure? Nine Ways Leaders Can Help Their Small Teams Avoid Overwhelm

When your company has a small team but a growing amount of work, it can be easy to allow for overwhelm. While big business growth is often a positive sign of success, it can sometimes feel like a negative side effect when your team can’t handle all the new work that comes in.

If you are a business leader, it is important to set the tone for your team and provide direction and guidance on how to proceed during such an exciting yet stressful time for the business. To keep your small team from feeling overwhelmed, take the following advice from the members of: Council for Young Entrepreneurs. Below, they share their thoughts on what you can do as a leader to help your team overcome their workload and achieve future success.

1. Clear their path

As CEO, I consider removing barriers for our team members as one of my most important tasks. Our business always works at its best when our team members are able to keep moving without being held back by obstacles beyond their control. If a team member encounters an obstacle, it is my job to notice and make sure that the obstacle is removed so they can accelerate forward. There is nothing more discouraging for a team member than not being able to do their job because of something beyond their control. But conversely, there is nothing more energetic than being able to rely on your team to ensure you can always run at full speed. So, if you want more productivity from your team, make sure you help clear their path so they can keep going. – Alex Linebrink, Passage

2. Seek Clarity and Commitment

In such situations we try to gain clarity and commitment. First, we try to get a clear picture of what is causing the increased workload for the team. Is it really because our business is growing, or is it because of our internal inefficiencies (such as lack of communication or clear instructions)? Once we identify the reasons for the increased workload, we then engage the team to help us find solutions (such as hiring new people, improving systems, or investing in technology or training). Not only does this process help us understand the issues our organization faces (growth versus inefficiency), but it also ensures our team’s commitment and involvement as their opinions have been taken into account when drafting of the strategy. – Feruza Djamalova, Law firm Sobirovs

3. Delegate and Offer Ownership

If you have a small team but a growing amount of work, start delegating things. By making your team end-to-end owner of respective tasks or projects, you not only increase the sense of responsibility among your employees, but you also build trust. Show your team that you have faith in their skills. This motivates your team to go the extra mile without feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work. – Jared Atchison, WPForms

4. Jump in with them

Get in and help out. Obviously as a leader your ability to do this in an extremely meaningful way will be limited, but even if you can take some small things off your team’s boards, or even solve a bigger problem, you show your team that you are aware of the increased workload, that you care about them and that you are willing to do something about it. – Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

5. Reward their achievements

Reward all achievements, big and small. As a small group with an incredible amount of work to accomplish, people can burn out and feel overwhelmed. Celebrating all their victories and achievements keeps their morale high and reminds them that the work is important, valued and rewarded. – Mary Harcourt, CosmoGlo

6. Set priorities

During the early days of our startup journey, there were always more things to do. If you are a leader, it is important to work with the team to divide the work into smaller modules and prioritize. The first thing to do is recognize that we can only address one or two opportunities or problems at a time. Therefore, just as parents should initially focus more on a baby’s motor skills than on the baby’s social skills, as a leader I’ve learned to distinguish critical issues from normal growing pains. It then becomes easier to work with the team to tackle critical tasks and interact with others later. As the saying goes, “Choose your battles wisely.” Setting priorities is the key. What needs to be addressed now and what can be postponed is important. The team can then deliberately focus on what needs to be achieved. – Vinay Indresh, Joy of space

7. Train them on the same tasks

Build redundancy into your business early on to avoid excessive workloads and process disruptions in the event of staff turnover or system failures. Train multiple people for the same tasks so they can cover each other when needed. This may seem like an unnecessary investment, but it reduces risk and reduces employee burnout over time. – Jack Perkins, CFO hub

8. Set up processes that ensure transparency

We have a fairly small team and a lot of work, so we use different tactics to make sure no one gets overloaded. We use Asana (a similar tool you can use is monday.com) to jointly manage the projects we have on board. In this way, everyone’s workload is transparent to the entire team and tasks can be easily assigned to those who have a lighter burden. We also tend to hire people who are pretty well versed in many skills and who are able to jump into any of the projects or tasks we have outstanding. That way no one is stuck with all the work and people rarely get overwhelmed. We also have regular team check-ins and stay in touch with Slack to assess everyone’s workload and make sure they are supported and successful in meeting deadlines. – Anna Anisin, DataScience.Salon

9. Listen to their feedback

Make sure your team knows they can provide honest feedback when they need it. A major cause of burnout is the feeling of not being able to take stock and speak honestly about how overwhelmed you feel. This is especially true for a small business team experiencing massive growth. No one wants to be the first to complain or let someone know that they are having a hard time. Try to work against this culture. Let your employees know it’s okay if they feel they’re taking on too much, and share what they can do to get help. It’s much more productive to take breaks when needed than to just switch over and eventually shut down. A successful team requires cohesion and motivation. Neither is achievable if you’re constantly working at 110%. – Nick Vendittia, StitchGolf