Modern knowledge workers are being weighed down by over collaboration. One-on-one meetings have exploded since the start of the pandemic – meetings went up 500%! The problem doesn’t stop there. Not only is the average professional spending half their workday in meetings, they leave each one with tasks and follow ups. Top priorities and deliverables are then replaced with non-critical work and at times, just busy work. This leaves people drained and unable to focus on their main job responsibilities.
Priority overload is one of the biggest derailers of team success. There are too many external stakeholders now – with competing needs and misaligned goals – taking up an employee’s bandwidth. 49% of employees are feeling the pressure of priority overload.
There are benefits to our hyper-connected world. Working together allows employees to learn from each other, creates an open space for ideas by removing pressures of vertical hierarchy, and connects remote workers. But there are also unforeseen consequences. When collaboration is used irresponsibly employees can be taxed, overwhelmed, and burned out.
To solve for collaboration and priority overload, companies first need to address the issues within an organization. Here are some signs your organization is experiencing collaboration and priority overload and how to address it.
Signs of collaboration and priority overloads
Packed employee schedules
If you think your calendar is packed, it probably is. Schedules can be a direct indicator whether your team is headed toward collaboration overload – or is already there. Take some time to look at your calendar and your teams’ schedules to see if there are too many meetings and whether they are all critical and whether everyone needs to be there.
Too many decision makers can slow down any growing organization. Naturally, as companies expand to new regions and add new products there are more departments and more leaders involved. But keeping too many decision makers in the process leads to more time in meetings and chat apps and reading emails. Organizations have to decide who can be freed from certain decisions to work on other priorities.
Burned out team
It would be great if all employees looked forward to meetings but that’s not realistic. A regularly enthusiastic team is unexpected but an unenthusiastic team is a red flag. Managers need to have emotional radar – paying close attention to checked out or irritated employees. If managers notice tension surfacing during meetings, they need to find the cause and do their best to address it.
Leadership should pay close attention to burnout. The term is becoming ubiquitous. It feels like everyone is using it and claiming everything is now a source for burnout. That may be the sentiment but doesn’t take away from the reality that many people feel like they are being pushed to their breaking point. Stressors can range from health and world concerns to personal lives, or work lives. There’s no way an organization can fully resolve what keeps people up at night – but making sure each meeting is of utmost significance can help.