How to Assign Tasks to Team Members
Productivity is the ultimate aim of every task. This is why we dedicate so much time and effort to measuring how efficient we are. Even so, there is a limit to how far one person can go on any task. For more people, most of the time, things can be done easier and faster.
However, teamwork is not just having more than one person involved in a task. Effective teamwork requires deliberate management. Each person has their tasks and deadlines. Project managers must ensure that these goals flow organically towards the same goal.
This is why you need to know how to assign tasks to team members. As former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca said,
“Start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate them and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can’t miss.”
Most effective task management strategies are complex, but you can learn the mechanics. Eventually, you will find assigning tasks among team members less difficult. What’s more, you will be confident that the project will be completed effectively.
Advantages of Effective Task-Sharing to the Organization
Sharing tasks is the main reason why teams are formed in the workplace. Ad hoc teams and entire departments spread work and roles among members. Some teams split a single task for each person to handle. Others have each person handling different tasks that all add up to a single project.
With teams, it becomes true that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Here are some of the advantages of sharing tasks in an organization:
The most obvious advantage of task sharing is speed. This is easy to understand. Five people working on different parts of the same project are faster than one person doing the same thing. Although this depends on the task, the advantage is there most of the time.
Let’s say you’re running an analytics company. When you have some people to collect data, some to analyze, and other employees to present the results, you finish tasks quickly. So, teamwork saves you a lot of time.
Diversity of Perspectives
An advantage of teamwork is the diversity of perspectives. This can manifest when employees brainstorm and collaborate. Even if every member of your team is within the same age range or went to the same school, they cannot see things the same way.
In Pulling Together: 10 Rules for High-Performance Teamwork, John J. Murphy said that “each individual has unique gifts, and, talents and skills.” When you put people from different backgrounds in a team and set tasks for them, the company will reap the benefits. No matter how difficult a problem is, two people have a higher chance of solving it than one person.
To get the most from your team, you can consciously vary its makeup. An all-male or all-white team may hold less appeal for this reason.
Sharing tasks effectively lets your employees unleash their hidden creativity. The results might surprise you. When you give workers jobs that fit their passion and/or specialization, you open the door to off-the-cuff ideas that can change the business forever.
Don’t take our word for it. Just ask the former Sony CEO, Ken Kutaragi. His initiative as a junior staff member led to the eventual development of the iconic PlayStation. The PlayStation lineup is of course an integral component of Sony’s business. What would have happened if Kutaragi had been stuck in catering or finance rather than digital research?
Sometimes, teamwork is not only about productivity. Any organization is made up of people, and each person has their role in the business, as well as preferences and experiences. Indeed, teamwork keeps the morale high. A core part of maintaining teamwork is sharing tasks in a way that keeps everyone happy.
Research has shown that people are generally happier in the company of others. They become even more satisfied when they don’t feel eclipsed by their comrades. Sharing tasks effectively gives everyone something to do and transforms the simple act of collaboration into a morale-boosting exercise. Cooperation and collaboration can become a factor that preserves determination and vision in your organization.
It is due to this advantage that ‘team spirit’ is a thing. Do you want team spirit? Well, get a team and give everyone tasks that reinforce positive collaboration.
Sharing tasks effectively gives the organization a cushion against failure. With more eyeballs on the goal, missteps can be quickly pointed out and corrected. One person doing all the work is not ideal. With a team, there’s more of a safety net.
Why You Should Assign Tasks Effectively to Team Members
Now that you know that teams are important and teamwork is a reliable key for productivity, why should you be intentional with assigning tasks to your team?
Clarity of purpose
Having clarity of purpose in your organization means that your employees can see the big picture. It means that they are on board with the vision and objectives of your organization. This is a prerequisite to quality corporate performance. You can implement this clarity of purpose by regularly assigning tasks to team members.
A typical organization has a number of objectives per time. Tasks are naturally built around these objectives. The more tasks are performed, the more objectives are met. Similarly, team members get a better grasp of the goal of your organization when they perform these tasks.
Also, assigning tasks gives you the opportunity to remind your employees of the vision and operations of your organization. It gives you a reasonable avenue to reiterate this vision and objectives.
Sense of responsibility
Employees that are involved with tasks feel a greater sense of responsibility than others. Assignments help employees get a better feel of the organization’s relevance in the industry. This helps them understand that they are part of something big or have something tangible to work towards.
This sense of responsibility stimulates your employees to take leadership roles. This shared leadership is good and can help fill the gap of task management in your absence. This is important when you have employees who may slack off in your absence. Those with a sense of responsibility would keep them on their toes.
Tasks are like exercise sessions: the more you do them, the better you get at them. Assigning tasks to team members improves their efficiency. It’s like programming—the minds of your employees get used to dealing with these assignments and they get better and better at it.
Teamwork efficiency is dependent on many factors. However, knowledge and familiarity are at the top of the list. You may pay for hours of training to get your team members accustomed to working together. However, you should consider creating a long list of tasks that will get them practicing.
As far as we know, practice makes perfect. So, assigning tasks will help get your team into shape—and keep them in that shape.
Many employers do not consider employee motivation as part of the performance recipe. In reality, it is. A happy team member is far more likely to commit to work than one that is unhappy.
There is a significant difference in outcomes for organizations that encourage regular task assignments compared to those that don’t. The former leads to employees that are happy with what they do and know that they are important to you. The latter breeds workers who are often detached, indifferent to the job.
When you regularly assign tasks to team members, you motivate them to work. This sends a subliminal message that they are relevant to your organization. This would fire up their potential and keep them focused on the job.
Assigning tasks to team members keeps them on their feet. The typical employee is likely more effective when they expect tasks. The prospect of assignments to come is a big boost to their morale and gives them a sense of purpose.
Anticipation is one of the drivers of workplace activity. Organizations with employees that are always up and doing have tasks scheduled for every member of the company. It is here that you find healthy competition among team members.
Team spirit also emerges when you regularly assign tasks to team members. Team spirit usually implies focus. Focus usually sets productivity in motion.
Spreading tasks efficiently gives employees the impetus to take more risks in pursuit of team goals. Workers will be inclined to push the envelope when others are backing them up. If the onus is on a single individual, they will likely try to play it safe.
An enterprising employee will feel more confident to try new things. This might sound counterintuitive but it works. Other members of the team can cheerlead, provide expertise, and help to iron out kinks in ambitious plans. This can only be of benefit to the team and organization.
How to Assign Tasks to Team Members
Now that you know that teamwork is important and that deliberate team management is beneficial, how do you assign tasks to employees? Are there effective task management strategies that can boost the efficiency of team members?
In his book, The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization, John C. Maxwell explained that there are many benefits to assigning tasks in teams. However, accessing these advantages requires you to know and do certain things.
Set clear objectives about the task
Before you go about distributing tasks among team members, you must set clear objectives. This looks like an obvious step, but it is something you can easily overlook. A task cannot be effectively and successfully carried out if there is no clear goal.
Imagine that you run a fashion company and want more investors. A reasonable strategy would be to have a fashion show where you show potential investors what you have and can do. The process leading up to this show requires team members. Some people will find the best location for the show, the suitable models for the clothes, ideal advertisement placement, and A-listers to invite.
The way each group goes about fulfilling their task will tie into your primary goal. The team assigned to woo possible investors will likely target people with a track record of investing in fashion and creative industries. Meanwhile, those in charge of location will also choose somewhere glamorous enough for the caliber of people you want to attract.
In this way, the main goal informs the kind of tasks allocated, who they are given to, and how they are carried out.
Know the members of the team
It is important that you know the members of your team. Everybody cannot do everything, or better said, nobody can do everything. When you know the strengths and weaknesses of your team, you will find that it is much easier to assign tasks to them without worrying.
As this is an important requirement for assigning tasks to team members, researchers recommend different methods to identify the strengths and weaknesses of employees. The concept of Belbin team roles is one example.
With this method, you can organize employees into nine classes:
- Resource Investigator
- Monitor Evaluator
- Completer Finisher
Each of these team roles serves an important purpose for any task. It is difficult to find employees that do not relate to at least one of these roles. Using this method is like seeing the entire chessboard. This gives you control and helps you determine the value of each individual in the team.
Also, know your employees’ interests. Some of your team members might be passionate about that task. These are the ones you need to keep an eye out for. As Rich Dad Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki said, “passion is the beginning of success.”
Decide who will do what based on their strengths and weaknesses
You have to know the strengths and weaknesses of the members of your team. This way, you can assign tasks to employees and remain confident of their effectiveness.
Some people are better at one thing than they are at another. This is the biggest advantage of teamwork, after all. Everyone in your team, no matter how insignificant, can be useful. You must use what you have learned about your employees to meet every objective in the task.
There is a reason for job descriptions. This can also come in handy, but it isn’t overly important here. You don’t need to be strict about who used to do what. Some people may develop expertise or specialization beyond what you employed them for. Others may have reservations about what they do.
So, to effectively assign tasks to team members in this context requires you to know your team members enough to decide who does what. This helps you set up an index showing the value of your employees to each task.
Communicate tasks effectively
Now that you are confident that your team members are suited to the task, you have to share the goal and objectives. This is an important condition, and if you fail at this, you might not make much headway.
Imagine, again, the example of a fashion company. In this context, when you expressly explain the objectives of the task, your team members are not likely to mess up. If they end up bringing monks and nuns to your show, you can be sure that there was a communication gap.
In Dale Carnegie’s famous book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, effective communication is presented as one of the foundations of influence and encouragement. You need both of these to effectively assign tasks to employees.
Be conscious of time
Timing is everything, and it is something you cannot do without. So, you must be conscious of time when you assign tasks to team members.
You can measure how much each person spends on a task. This will help you allocate future projects optimally. The most important tasks can be given to those who mastered blending speed with quality.
Pro Tip: Use a time tracker to monitor productivity
You already have a lot on your plate. So, you should find the most convenient way to measure productivity.
Traqq shines best in this area. This time tracker automatically records your employees’ work hours and even provides you with productivity reports.
On the dashboard, you will see each person’s activity levels. This way, you can identify who’s struggling and who’s powering through their tasks. As a result, you can assign tasks to the right people and help anyone who’s falling behind.
Meanwhile, using deadlines to ensure that your team members complete assigned tasks requires you to be flexible.
You can keep your employees productive by using timeframes as task objectives. This means, instead of ‘contact investors in the fashion industry,’ you will be better off using ‘contact investors in the fashion industry before December.’ The second objective is more specific and specific objectives are easily met.
Keep yourself and your team members aware of the deadline for task completion. Make more than one deadline before the real deadline, if possible.
When you are conscious of time, you can easily follow up on your team members. This helps you stay connected after you have informed them of the tasks. Also, feedback from team members might help quicken task completion.
Follow-up is important because it lets you monitor the team. Also, it keeps you informed of the progress of the project and any help that team members need at any point.
During follow-up, you need skills of effective communication to get the most out of every dialog. This will not only boost the morale of your team members but also show them how much you value their input.
Use Task Management Tools
Technology has made things very easy. There is a tool for almost all the steps that you have learned so far. Some of these programs have to do with time management. Others can aid you in deploying surefire project management strategies.
You don’t have to be the only one using these tools. Many of these apps come with user-friendly versions. So, you can get your team members involved. If you can successfully use this to your advantage, it won’t be difficult to be more effective when you assign tasks to employees.
Useful Tools for Assigning and Managing Tasks
There are many tools out there that can be used to assign and manage tasks. As you can imagine, some of these are effective and others are not so effective.
Trello is one of the better-known tools that is designed to assist team leaders. It does a number of things, including planning, projecting, assigning tasks, and monitoring tasks. Trello is popular because it is lightweight and cannot be used for anything other than task management. In other words, there is little chance of distractions.
Podio is another good tool that was designed specifically to assist team leaders. One of the reasons it is popular is that it can be used alongside productivity tools like Google Drive and Evernote on the same platform. Essentially, it covers all the bases and even lets you communicate directly with team members.
Basecamp is another favorite task management tool in the corporate world. It became even more popular when working remotely became the convention. This tool also allows you to message your team members. It has an automatic check-in feature that allows you to assign tasks to team members and keep perfect track of who is doing what.
There are many, many such tools that you can use to increase your productivity. Some of these are specifically for assigning tasks in teams and project management.
Knowing how to assign tasks to employees is important and beneficial. The power of teamwork can be nullified when you do not know how to effectively assign tasks to team members. So, if productivity is your ultimate goal, then you must prioritize these tips for effective task management.