Handle With Care: Managing Employees Who Must Wear Multiple Hats

It is common among small businesses that employees learn to become expert jugglers who must successfully manage numerous, often unrelated positions and responsibilities. And as the current economic downturn continues to hinder sales and cut into profit margins, this trend is only getting stronger.

While combining positions may be a necessary step towards conserving capital and riding out the current economic climate, small businesses run the risk of employee burnout, high employee turnover, and a severe drop in productivity.

Thus, it goes without saying, that managing your employees when they must wear multiple hats demands care and caution.

So, here are a few ideas to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the person’s responsibilities are clearly defined. Spell out exactly what your employee is expected to do, and make sure that each duty is fully understood by your employee.

  • Create a mix of responsibilities that is doable. This may take a little fine tuning over time. You need to determine that the workload is not too high and that the positions go together.

  • Try to make it fit the person. The additional responsibilities should be appropriate for the employee’s skills, talents, and personality. Don’t, for example, give an unorganized person a bunch of administrative tasks that demand organization.

  • Be prepared to be flexible. Have in mind that this is a work in progress. You may need to reallocate or redefine your employees’ duties over time.

  • Create an appropriate pay scale. Even though saving money is a priority, it is important that your employees do not feel that you are taking advantage of them by paying them too little. For tips on how to determine an appropriate salary, check out this article.

  • Allow for and encourage feedback. Knowing how your employees are feeling is one of your best indicators of how well the new positions are working out. Make sure to check in with your employees continuously to see how they are managing.

  • Make sure there is downtime. To avoid burnout, make sure that employees have ample break and vacation time.

With the right attitude your employees can stay happy and productive even if they will be working harder.

Image credit: flikr user: Party Pig

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