The Finance Leader Podcast

052: Your Team's Task Workload

May 25, 2021 Stephen McLain Season 6 Episode 8
The Finance Leader Podcast
052: Your Team's Task Workload
Show Notes Transcript

Use leadership to better manage your team’s task workload. How you assign tasks also affects your team’s culture. Go beyond just getting tasks done so that they can be used to develop your team, and your people can be ready for greater responsibility. There is definitely a management approach that is required but use your leadership skills to make your team better for the long term. 

The following outline is used during the episode:

  1. Your role as leader in task management,
  2. What you should work on versus your team?
  3. Protect your team’s time,
  4. Ensure your team has time for personal development,
  5. How task management affects team culture.

For more resources, please visit On the website, you can download the Leadership Growth Blueprint for Finance and Accounting Managers. You can use this guide to develop your leadership by focusing on communication, and growing and empowering your team.

You can now purchase a course to help you advance your career from It's called Advance Your Finance and Accounting Career: Developing a Promotion Strategy that Sets You Apart.

Please follow me on:

1. Instagram: stephen.mclain
2. Twitter: smclainiii
3. Facebook: stephenmclainconsultant

Stephen McLain:

This week I am talking about using leadership to better manage your team's task workload. How you assign tasks also affects your team's culture. Go beyond just getting tasks done, so that they can be used to develop your team and your people can be ready for greater responsibility. There's definitely a management approach that is required, but use your leadership skills to make your team better for the long term. Please enjoy the episode. Welcome to the finance leader, podcast or leadership is bigger than the numbers. I am your host Stephen McLain. This is the podcast for developing leaders in finance and accounting. This is episode number 52. And now we'll be talking about using leadership to improve your team's task workload. And I will highlight the following topics. Number one, your role as leader and task management. Number two, what you should work on versus your team. Number three, protect your team's time. Number four, ensure your team has time for personal development, and five how task management affects team culture. Management expert Peter Drucker said, time is the scarcest resource, and unless it's managed, nothing else can be managed. Now last week, I talked about when your team will be asked to return to the office. It's a critical topic. And by publishing that episode, I am hoping that as leaders, it will give you courage to ask questions about what the plan is, and what flexibility you will have from your organization to help your team adapt, and to support your team members who are not able to return just yet. There's lots of discussion about this topic every day. In business news, the hybrid model is being discussed every day. And that is where you come into the office a few days, and you go back home a few days. The other big question I am seeing is how will your team members who can remain at home not be forgotten? Will this become a major career disadvantage to them? Because they are not in the room with everyone? Will they be overlooked when it comes to a high visibility project, or a chance to advance that can get them the attention from senior executives, it is definitely something to think about. This week, we are talking about the team's workload, which sounds like a managerial type of focus. But we are also going to apply our leadership skills to get the best of what you can do and what your team can do. I previously talked about task management techniques back in episode seven. So if you also want to listen to that episode, please do so. I'm going to deep dive a little bit more today and how it affects your team's culture. A manager's job is to get tasks done today. And this week, no matter what managers live and operate in this tactical mindset, today's tasks and this week's tasks. Now let's get them done. I need items off the checklist completed. This is how a manager approaches the task workload every day. And it's very easy to slip into this mindset because tasks are flying at you from everywhere. When we apply leadership to task management, we begin to prioritize, we analyze with more precision what our team's actual bandwidth is. So we don't first accept a due date that is not realistic. And second, we take an active role in prioritizing resources to the task, we do need to get tasks done. But let's consider the long term issues. When trying to organize and delegate the work of the team, we should always be working on empowering and developing our team. So assign tasks and set expectations appropriately. every task is an opportunity to show off skills and abilities. And every task can be a future resume bullet, if its complexity and final results are game changing for your team or organization. So help your team get those resume bullets. Let's talk about a few key points about your team's task workload. And number one, your role as leader in task management for your team. How do you assign tasks? What do you need to consider? Your team members should be blocking time on the calendar as they are working on tasks. And also group information sharing should always be encouraged. They'll prioritize tasks based on scope and impact. Additionally, some tasks will require more time and more effort and some do not help your team to determine which tasks to focus the great energy on, and which tasks require a good enough approach. This will free up a lot of time. Some tasks require only a quick answer. So let's not waste time and energy, trying to make them look pretty. Get the info, maybe do a quick analysis and send it off. And then forget about it, just get it done and move on to the next item. And you should always be fitting these into the priority, ensuring that you don't waste time now on a task that really should be done later. Your team has recurring tasks. And you should already know what these are going to ask you a question? Do you have a responsibility or portfolio matrix for your team. This is a chart showing the categories or topics or responsibility for each person. update this regularly. You should also know the regular meetings and reports that your team is responsible for. This helps you balance the workload and development opportunities for the future. Even though more than one person may be assigned to a task, if the scope of the task requires group work, the person listed in the portfolio matrix is the lead on the task. And your one on one meetings have each person tell you where they may be having obstacles and task accomplishment. So you can help them with additional resources, which may be you or another team member. This is what's great about the one on one meetings, each person can come in and tell you the major projects they're working on and where they may be stuck. And this is your opportunity as leader to move resources around to accomplish those higher priority tasks. And what I want you to focus on is scope and impact what's the scope and impact on each task, tasks with a greater scope and impact should require additional resources, or even a change to resources so that the task can get done. So they you have the greatest impact. Number two, what you should work on versus what your team members will do. This is where proper delegation comes in. It's difficult for some people. And you also have to do a really good analysis of the task. What you should be working on versus the team now depends on the scope and impact of the requirement. Sometimes you have to keep a task close to you, especially when it involves the company's strategy. But don't be afraid to hand an important task off to a team member too. Because these are empowering and also development opportunity. Evaluate the workload your team has including yourself, do you have the time? Do your team members have the time ensuring you are prioritizing a high visibility task that has a very important scope and impact move those tasks up and move other tasks down in the priority? Now use your best judgment. But don't keep a task just because you are afraid of the outcome. There is a balance between empowerment and micromanagement. Another consideration is the skill level that is required. And that may be a reason to keep the task but this might be a time to develop your team. Also, how quick is the turnaround and who needs it determined scope impact time required? And who is the audience balance this with other current requirements. But don't forget to use important tasks to develop your team. Or you might want to partner with one of your team members to get it done together. But don't keep everything important to yourself because you will burn out try to balance everyone's time according to the scope and impact of each task that does come in now. Number three, protect your team's time. This is important and sure that other leaders are not trying to pressure your team members into doing tasks for them. This is definitely what happens when a leader within an organization needs analysis especially a senior leader. The analysis may be extremely important, but we need to prioritize it properly. There is not a problem with doing the task, but at the proper time. So tell your team they need to let you know when this happens. And I know this is happening all the time. You have to communicate to your team about how you deal with these situations. Protect your team's time and set boundaries. Number four, ensure your team has time for personal and career development. Your team members need time for development along with the mandatory training time. So make sure they are putting in blocks of time on the calendar to protect this talk about this at your weekly team meetings. And in your one on ones. This is important. Don't let the time slip away every week without They have development time and time to work on the mandatory training requirements. use their calendars to block the time, don't forget about the mandatory training requirements because they will come up quick. You should already know when these are coming due. If your organization is on top of it, your organization requires certain training like ethics training. Now ensure that you are finding these on the calendar, find the due dates, make sure everyone is marking it in their calendars. And this is something you can be talking about in your weekly team meeting, have a matrix, have a chart and share you are tracking your team members mandatory training requirements, we can get these on the calendar, we can knock these out pretty quickly. It should not be hard to do. But also ensure that based on each person's individual development plan, they are blocking in time during the month to get some training them to get some classes done, to work on something that they need done to improve their skills, especially their soft skills, and also their hard technical skills that they need to also need time to work on certifications, and also some advanced education. So don't forget about the personal career development time. And never forget about the mandatory training requirements, because they will come back at you later. Now number five, how task management affects team culture. Our team's culture is critical to success. I have talked about this already in several episodes of the podcast in season six, which we are in right now. Task assignment is another factor in building a strong team culture, along with ensuring that people can ask for help when they face an obstacle. And you have to balance quote unquote, go figure it out with I don't want my team wasting hours when they get stuck. You don't want them to be asking for help at simple blocks. But also we don't want precious hours wasted. It's a balancing act. It's a communicating to your team. Hey, I do want you to kind of work on this and try to figure it out. Go work with a team member go try to find another resource to figure it out. But I also don't want you sitting at your computer wasting hours when you can probably come up to me asking me a simple question. And I can get you moving hours are precious, we don't want to waste them. hours can be done another task, I don't want you to continue to be stuck on something you can just ask a simple question on, you want to balance the task assignment based on bandwidth and ensuring all team members are pulling their weight, while also using tasks and projects to develop people and empower them to take on greater responsibility, which hopefully prepares them for higher roles in the future. When you focus on developing a team member, communicate that to them. So they understand your long term plan. And that makes sense when you're getting high visibility projects. Because they may be asking themselves Why am I always getting these high visibility projects? Why am I always going in front of the executive team? Why am I always the one that's picked even though I have all these other tasks to do so communicate to them, that I have you in the future for something greater for something higher than what you are doing right now. And that is why I am giving you opportunities to improve yourself to grow yourself to get you ready and get you in front of people. So you continue to grow and develop your skills and leadership ability. Also, if your team is not getting time on the calendar with you, or they are not getting self development time, it will negatively affect team culture. And sure everyone is getting one on one team meetings with you and I talked about this before try to get these done weekly if you can, if not then every other week and get everyone on the calendar have everyone get a time with you to talk about what they are working on where they are having trouble with and what obstacles they are facing and what development time that they need. So ensure you are working through your task management, and how it affects the team culture and how everyone is thinking about the task they're being assigned. Because people can come up with some ideas about why tasks are being assigned. So communicate that don't hold back, tell people exactly where you stand on how task management is being done. Now for an easy one today. If you're leading a team, I would recommend that you start blocking out some time to plan and think so you can better prepare your team for the workload. If you're back in the office, go away from your desk to if you can use this time to relook the task workload and the responsibility portfolio that your team has. Start thinking about how to develop your team members so they can take on more responsibility. This time as well worth the investment as you take back overcoming adversity that you are facing. You have to find the time and make this investment don't overlook it. I have a free guide for you. It's called the leadership growth blueprint for finance and accounting managers. In the guide, I talked about three leadership areas communication, team growth, and empowerment. Plus a few recommendations around challenges with the systems you are probably using to complete your work. The link to the guide is in the episode description, or you can go to Stephen McLain calm. Please use it to help you with a few leadership wins today. Thank you. This episode is sponsored by my course offering to finance leader Academy. It's called Advanced your finance and accounting career, developing a promotion strategy that will set you apart. To advance your career you must set yourself apart from your peers, finance and accounting professionals are already expected to be technically competent. This course helps you establish your professional Foundation, and how you can set yourself apart from your peers by growing your leadership skills and developing your executive presence. You can go to Stephen McLain calm for more details on this career advancement course. The link is also in the show notes with this episode. Thank you. Today I talked about your team's task workload and highlighted the following points. Number one, your role as leader and task management. Number two, what you should work on versus your team. Number three, protect your team's time. Number four, ensure your team has time for personal development, and five how task management affects team culture. I encourage you to approach tasks that your team must complete through a leadership lens as you develop a strong team culture, built on trust and focused on empowerment and long term development. You have to complete the tasks. But let's use the tasks and various projects that come our way to develop our team to make them better, to give them opportunities to shine in front of the executive team to get them recognition. I know that just doing your daily job every day will not help you advance you must do more. The next week I'll be talking about the weekly team meeting and how you can use it properly. I can't wait to share. I hope you enjoyed the finance leader podcast I am dedicated to helping you grow your leadership because it is leadership that will set you apart from your peers. If you can get this episode wherever you find podcasts. Until next time, you can check out more resources at Stephen McLain calm, you can sign up for my updates so you don't miss an episode of the show. And now, go lead your team and I'll see you next time. Thank you