Managing Overcommitted Team Members | Glaser & Associates

Senior managers and team leaders are increasingly frustrated by conflicts arising from multi-teaming—having their people assigned to multiple projects simultaneously. Multi-teaming can create efficiencies and limit downtime, but the continual churning of members can weaken group cohesion and identity, making it harder to build trust and resolve issues. Moreover, individuals may experience stress, fatigue, and burnout as they struggle to manage time and engagement across projects.

Managers must stay on top of the situation in order to mitigate downsides. Writing in The Harvard Business Review, Heidi Gardner, faculty chair of the Accelerated Leadership Program at Harvard Law School, and Mark Mortensen, chair of the Organizational Behavior Area at INSEAD, suggest best practices based on their 15-year study of team collaboration:

• Launch each team well to establish trust and familiarity
• Map everyone’s skills
• Manage time across teams
• Create a learning environment
• Boost motivation

The authors write, “A sense of fairness drives many behaviors. If people feel they are pulling their weight while others slack off, they quickly become demotivated. When team members are tugged in many directions, it’s often difficult for each one to recognize and appreciate how hard the others are working. As the leader, keep publicly acknowledging various members’ contributions…”

from Glaser & Associates