How to Strike the Balance When Managers Are On Overload

In our last blog, we talked about how mindfulness is essential in the hybrid work environment as leaders must juggle between their own tasks and well-being as well as their team. 

While technology helps us do our jobs, it may also enable unproductive multi-tasking, which creates a split in our focus that is not effective as the human brain cannot do two things well at the same time. 

To build on this notion of multi-tasking, the role and workload of a manager has changed significantly because of our new way of working, and the statistics are alarming.

In Gartner’s latest report Managers Are Cracking and More Training Won't Help they note that:

  • 77% of employees say that it has become more important than ever to receive support from their manager, while managerial responsibilities have doubled compared to those of individual contributors. 
  • 45% of managers spend more time managing projects than managing people.
  • 54% of managers are suffering from work-induced stress and fatigue.

These statistics are not very inspiring, but the good news is there are clear actions you can take to ensure you are striking the right balance. This means efficiently straddling doing work and focusing on your people to ensure work gets done while keeping the big picture in view at all times.

Balancing the Work with People Leadership Responsibilities

According to Gartner’s report, managers are the “linchpin to organizational success” and employees who report having an effective manager are:

  • 15.4x more likely to be high performers
  • 13.4% more engaged
  • 3.2x more likely to have high intent to stay
  • 12.5% higher physical and mental well-being

There are four key components to manager effectiveness: 
1. project and work management
2. performance management and goal alignment
3. coaching and development
4. collaboration and building a positive team environment. 

Balancing all of this is no small task, and as a leader, striking the right balance has become a challenge because most jobs themselves have become unmanageable.

Without a doubt, focusing on both hard and soft skill development is essential, however they note that focusing on job manageability is 5x more effective than skill proficiency in improving manager effectiveness, and improving job manageability can increase manager effectiveness by up to 21%.

Let’s explore some simple tactics and approaches you can take to help yourself and better support your respective team.

Clearly Define Roles & Responsibilities 

If your leadership role and responsibilities aren’t clearly defined as it relates to what you are accountable for, then we suspect your respective teams’ role(s) and responsibilities might not be either, as objectives and goals tend to flow top-down, not bottom-up.

Start by determining what needs to be done and prioritize those items with your respective leader or stakeholders to ensure you have alignment. Then figure out who on the team will be accountable and if everyone is needed. You can do this by leveraging the RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) matrix, so everyone on the team can hold one another accountable for the delivery of results.

Ongoing Prioritization

As previously mentioned, prioritization top-down is key, and it isn’t something we do just once a year, because priorities change regularly. Be proactive, keep a close eye on your to-do list and the projects and tasks you are asking your team to deliver. If necessary, negotiate and talk about what is most important with your respective leader so you do not become overwhelmed. Do this with your team, too. 

Preparation & Time Management

In today’s world of hybrid and remote work we must be intentional and purposeful in everything we do and how we use our and other people’s time. Every meeting and interaction matter, as it is time out of your day. Are you defining meeting agendas in advance and using your calendar and applicable tools to help manage your busy days most effectively? If not, it’s a good idea to start now. If you don’t know how, or where to start, please reach out to us. We are happy to help.

As a leader, you set the tone with your behavior and with the best practices you leverage. If you are not good at prioritizing, being organized and using your time effectively, then it might be time to take a time management workshop. It is also important to note that your team will follow your lead, so it’s critical to set the right example and find a time management system that works for you. Additionally, when you view your team as partners, your people will be more apt to be engaged and productive. Ensure they have a system and process that works for them so they can work as efficiently as possible. Remember, processes are not a once-and-done task. You need to be constantly reviewing them to ensure they continue working for all those involved.

Delegate & Empower Your People

This tends to be the number one pitfall for some leaders. As items get added to their to-do list, they tend to just do them vs. properly delegating and empowering their people to step up and shine. I often hear things like “I do not want to burden my team”, or “they are on the brink of burnout”. If you’re prioritizing, managing your time well and helping your people do the same, then there is room for ongoing delegation and empowerment of tasks and additional projects, provided you are prioritizing what needs to get done.

Openly talk to your people about their workload and the projects and tasks that they like to do so you have a better understanding of who you can rely on and go to on the team. Careful not to overload your high performers as they may not feel comfortable pushing back. It is your responsibility to support your people and effectively delegate and empower your people. These are skills that can be learned. If you need help, we are happy to support your success.

These are just a few simple tactics and approaches that we know work and we want to hear from you. What other approaches and strategies have you tried that are effective? What’s working for you as it relates to striking the right balance?

Please reach out to us today, we would like to hear from you! 

You can email me at or call me at 1.416.560.1806.

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