In my years managing staff I have come to learn that ‘flow’ is one of the most basic yet critical elements in the morale of the team. Flow is the degree to which we feel we have enough challenging and meaningful work without becoming overloaded. If staff have too much work they get stressed, aggressive, become negative and damage relationships. If they feel they are being underutilised they start to get bored, misbehave and lose focus.
When staff are ‘in flow’ then productivity, energy and performance is high. When they are ‘not in flow’ then problems start to emerge.
The problem is that maintaining flow is very difficult. At the end of the day, any business exists to serve its customers and in reality workloads fluctuate for most people. We seek to be responsive to customers so there are always peaks and troughs.
Creating the right level of flow in your team is fundamentally about sharing the load across team members such that when one person has too much work, others help out and thus re-balance work across the team. This is often referred to as resource optimisation and is critical not only from a morale perspective but also a financial efficiency perspective.
Without a great team culture where everyone helps each other out it is very difficult to maintain flow. Individuals in teams need to put their ego aside to help each other out but also put up their hand when they are over worked or underutilised so that others can help. Teams need trust in each other so that individuals can ‘let go’ or ‘show vulnerability’.
Without a team approach to flow it is very difficult to share the load and keep everyone in the team balanced.