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Does Your Team Know How to Prioritize?

September 8th, 2017

When you hire new candidates, you work hard to select those who have the knowledge base and experience to handle the technical challenges of the job. You only bring a candidate on board if he or she knows how to code, for example, or organize a budget, or conduct sales calls within a certain territory. But as it happens, there’s a gap between knowing something and knowing how to complete on-the-job tasks efficiently and effectively. At a certain point, what your candidates have learned in school or training sessions will need to carry over into deliverables and measurable accomplishments on the job. So how can you take a brilliant team and turn their brilliance into results? Keep these considerations in mind.

Train your teams to organize and prioritize.

Too often, young employees enter the workplace after spending most of their lives in the classroom, and in the classroom, tasks are all designed to be completed—otherwise they wouldn’t be assigned. In the workplace, tasks often pile up, they appear out of thin air, and they take the form of instructions and requests from many people who may or may not hold meaningful authority. In other words: in the workplace, most employees can’t say yes to every single task and chore that presents itself, so they need to learn to say no. They also need to learn to say, “Yes, but not today” and “Maybe, if I get to it.” This doesn’t always come naturally. But prioritizing is a skill like any other. Help your teams by exercising your coaching skills and your patience.

Teach strategy.

New and inexperienced employees often spend the first hours of the day utterly overwhelmed by all they have to do—so they do nothing. They sip their coffee in a state of paralysis until the first of their tasks rises to the top of the list of its own accord. Instead of reliving this ritual every day, train your employees to attack the list and aggressively cross off what isn’t vital, downgrade the items that can wait, and start working on the items that matter most. To do this, they’ll need to think into the future and examine the big picture. Who else depends on them in order to get things done? Who’s waiting impatiently for answers, and why? Which larger projects matter most, and how will outcomes be affected by these decisions?

Teach teamwork.

“Teamwork” doesn’t mean dealing with an overwhelming list by pushing tasks off on coworkers. But it does mean asking for help when high priority items are getting out of hand, for the good of the organization. Help your employees to understand the difference, share the load, and communicate effectively when it’s time to offer or receive assistance.

For more on how to encourage a culture of efficiency, teamwork, and productivity, talk to the Fairfeld County staffing and management professionals at Merritt Staffing.

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