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Getting The Most From Your People Without Burning Them Out

Employers know that overworked employees often make mistakes. There is a balance between production and your peoples ability to provide it.

  1. Have a clear understanding of optimal production levels. Perhaps the errors are introduced by trying to produce more than your system can handle. Look for increases of per unit production that correspond with increases of errors.
  2. Know large amounts of overtime are often signs of project issues. Too much overtime is often a sign of too few resources, or project schedules that are out of alignment. Working harder doesn't necessarily get more work done, work smart and know when to bring in additional labor.
  3. Sit down with font-line staff to get their feedback individually. Often your front-line people will know what can be done to improve, but won't share their ideas in a group for various reasons. Individually you'll gather useful insights about the process-- don't turn this into an inquisition.
  4. Have the group redesign the process from scratch in concept. As a team exercise redesign the entire process as if you didn't have any constraints. Invite the group to explore their ideas with a moderator, focus on the constructive suggestions.
  5. Reassess skills necessary to produce the desired result. Often stress brings skill weakness to the surface, try training refreshers that enhance process related knowledge. Start with the basics and build from there.
  6. Consider hiring an outside expert who can look at your process. You could be receiving poor quality materials with defects that don't identify themselves until they are in the finished product. No matter how much work your people put in, with unacceptable materials you can't achieve the results you desire.
  7. Technology work can be just as physically demanding as hard labor. Often knowledge workers are expected to work longer hours because their work seems less taxing. Studies show, fatigue in mental work leads to mistakes.

Encourage your people to take reasonable breaks, work a steady pace, and manager their time with the companies interest in mind. When you find your people working longer hours, ask them to evaluate their focus to bring them back on track. You want optimal results, but the key is not burning out your employees before you reach those levels.

/ business-strategy | employee-relations /

By Justin Hitt at August 27, 2003 2:03 PM  Subscribe in a reader


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