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It is natural human behavior to want to jump in when we see that someone is overwhelmed. Or, we may be inclined to tell them to "get it together," but neither reaction is helpful. As a nonprofit manager, it is your job to encourage your staff and help them with their burdens in a constructive way. Just doing the work for them doesn't help and neither does barking orders. So, how can you help your staff be less overwhelmed with their day-to-day work without micromanaging them?
- Redirect priorities. If you've ever felt the pressure of burnout, you'll know that it comes when you've simply taken on too much and feel a pressure to do everything. If your staff can't function, it is your job to direct them in a better way. Determine the priorities and focus on what matters most.
- Change workload. Some people have a hard time saying no, and some managers take full advantage of this. Although employees should have ownership over what they agree to, it also can fall on their supervisor's shoulders to make sure they're not asking for too much work, too often.
- Reduce interruptions. Time management can be a big challenge for your nonprofit employees. They are fully capable of managing their own time, but unscheduled interruptions can get in the way quickly. Allow them time during the day to work without checking e-mail or voice mail.
- Overhaul meetings. Along the same lines, meetings can be one of the least productive ways to spend time at the office. Meetings go longer than anticipated or they become a forum for grievances. Alter your approach and have fewer, shorter meetings to keep the real work on schedule.
- Lead by example. If you're feeling stressed and it shows, it's no wonder that your team is mirroring that behavior back at you. They need to see that you are calm under pressure. Before you can manage their schedule or workload, make sure you have a handle on your own. The more confident you are, the more at ease your staff will be.
We have experience in managing human resources issues for nonprofit organizations. Give us a call, and we can help you with policy changes going forward.