Dealing With Task Saturation With Task Shedding and Task Sharing


The Keys To Teamwork And Eliminating Task Saturation

Teamwork, Mutual Support, Cooperation, these are the goals that all managers and CEOs strive to achieve within their teams. Nevertheless, how do you ensure after you get the right people on your team, that they have the tools to work “flawlessly” together as an agile team? One answer lies in the practice of Task Shedding and Task Sharing to prevent task saturation.

Individual Task Shedding

Task Shedding occurs at two levels: as an individual and as a team. Individual Task Shedding occurs when you become overloaded or “Task Saturated,” and as a result must set aside or delay one task to focus on a more immediate matter. For example, you may have a sales report due, but while you’re working on it, an important client calls with an urgent problem. You would delay completing the sales report to handle your client’s situation. But what happens when a second emergency arises? What should you do if your number one client is occupying all of your time and your number two and three clients call in looking for service? If you handle this situation sequentially, you run the risk of alienating your second and third clients.

Team Task Shedding

Situations, where multiple threats arise, require Task Shedding as a team. Team Task Shedding is the process of delegating critical items that are ultimately your responsibility to a member of your team when you are task saturated with a more important task. To task shed a project, client, or task to another member of your team, your co-workers must generally understand the overall situation and objectives. They must be informed of the possibility of the Task Shedding contingency plan so they can pick up where you left off.

How do you accomplish this? The answer is the Brief.

The Brief: Combating Task Saturation

A thorough BRIEF will cover the scenario, the Mission Objectives, threats and resources, the course of action, and the contingencies. If your co-workers attend the Brief, then they will have all of the critical information necessary to make this a seamless transition. If your co-workers don’t attend a brief, then you face the possibility of trying to bring co-workers up to speed on a task in a very chaotic environment. This can result in misalignment and misinterpretation of the problem, and therefore an unsatisfactory solution for the client where you run the risk of having to spend more of your time correcting the situation or perhaps even find yourself trying to prevent the loss of an important client. Ultimately, you will save time and work more efficiently if situations that may require task shedding as a contingency are briefed to the team beforehand.

Task Sharing

As leaders, you cannot and should not plan and execute your projects or missions alone. Task Sharing begins when you delegate tasks to the members of your team to spread the workload and avoid having one person assume the responsibility for the majority of the task. For example, you would task share during the collection of information about threats, presentation of lessons learned, and execution of assigned responsibilities. Delegating tasks to different members of your team throughout the planning and executing phases will help prevent performance-draining Task SaturationSM or Task Overload, but remember, a leader can delegate authority but never responsibility. Leaders must give their team the tools to accomplish the task and a Mission Objective that is clear, measurable, and achievable.

Could your contributors, teams, and organizations benefit from increased Teamwork, Mutual Support, and Cooperation?  Expose them to the tools of Task Shedding and Task Sharing and see for yourself!

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