Why working overtime could be the first sign of poor management

Terry Koutsios, managing director of fivesquid explores overtime and why it could be a sign of poor management.

We all know work can be stressful and it might feel like overtime is the only way to keep on top of the workload, especially before and after the festive season.

It is also at this time of the year that business freelance websites boom from overwhelmed managers who try to meet deadlines by delegating tasks to freelancers to cover for staff members who are still in holiday mode.

Here are 5 tips from Terry Koutsios, managing director at fivesquid.com on how to do overtime without leaving staff disgruntled and deadlines missed.

Resource plan – the earlier the better

Essentially all you need are two calendars, one that shows all the work that is booked in for the month and one that shows how many hours you have to work with from your staff (don’t forget to take into consideration staff members on holiday). If the hours of work booked in are more than the working hours your staff have, work out exactly how much overtime you will need.

There is nothing worse than a manager just letting their staff muddle through a work load knowing there is more work than working hours allocated for it.

With thousands of project management tools out there, from Asana to Trello, poor time management is no longer acceptable and will be a reflection on management skills rather than an individual being capable of doing the work.

Surprisingly, if you are clear that overtime will have to be done at the start of the month, staff don’t necessarily jump to overtime pay, here at fivesquid.com we offer days in lieu, thank you treats and late night pizza to show our appreciation for all hands on deck.

Don’t stop delegating if your staff don’t want to do overtime

If your staff can’t commit to overtime, don’t let employees that are happy to work overtime take the whole workload. With overtime, you need to be very clear with the tasks that need to be done and if the workload is still too high, outsource micro-tasks.

If you have a big project with tight deadlines, make sure to assign a project manager so they can list all of the tasks that need to be done to complete the project. With a task list, keep priorities in-house but everything that takes longer to do and doesn’t need specific knowledge, outsource. Companies can save up to 40 hours a week we’ve found by outsourcing micro-tasks.

From designers to virtual assistants, a lot of freelancers work weekends so as long as you set strict deadlines and have clear instructions, they can be the backbone to ensuring your team’s time is well managed and overtime is kept to a minimum.

Overtime doesn’t always mean working until midnight

If you know your staff will need to do overtime, make sure the tasks during the normal working hours are well planned out.

If staff have to tackle multiple tasks during the day, you might not want them to do overtime in the evening as productivity levels are bound to drop.

Allocating extra time in the morning could be a great way to entice more staff to do overtime, emptier trains, maybe a small breakfast provided?

Set a clear timeline

The more transparent you are with your staff about resource planning, the easier it will be to manage overtime. From your resource plan you should know exactly how many hours staff will be doing overtime, the priority tasks that need to be done in that extra time and any external support they might need to do their tasks.

Have 5 minute meetings to ensure everyone is in the loop and they don’t feel overwhelmed by the work load. The key to successful management is seeing staff members take an hour lunch break and still meet deadlines, regardless if there is overtime.

Don’t panic

With staff sinking into January blues and motivation levels dropping, managers need to be careful about acting or sounding negative about work load, don’t add to an already blue month.

If you don’t believe your resource plan can achieve deadlines neither will your team, keep an optimistic attitude even if things are not quite going to plan.

Further reading on overtime

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the Smallbusiness.co.uk and Growthbusiness.co.uk titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the Express.co.uk.

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Time managament

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