Multitasking in the Age of Lean Management
The modern manager is always looking for something that will give their company an extra edge over the competition and increase customer satisfaction rates. As such, any waste (anything that doesn’t add value to the customer) is often eliminated. This is why most managers encourage their employees to multitask to try and increase the productivity levels of their workforce.
The question is, will your workforce really be as efficient as you think by multitasking? While performing tasks at the same time might feel as if you have a productive workforce, more often than not, the opposite holds true. In fact, multitasking is predicted to reduce productivity levels of most employees by 40%, according to Forbes.
Read on to learn how to approach multitasking with more efficiency:
The Cost of Multitasking
Whenever an employee switches from one project to another, it takes time to adjust to the new project. The taken time increases as the complexity of the project increases. Sadly, this time wasted would have been time used in finishing off the previous task. The chances for making an error are even higher than when single-tasking.
For instance, take a scenario where an employee is working on goods to be delivered to two different customers with different specifications. If they do not take the time to read the specifications of the second customer once they are halfway through with that of the first customer, the chances are that they will commit errors. This time taken when switching between both projects can mean failure in lean management, especially if you are trying to embrace the Kanban method.
How the Brain Deals With Multitasking
The brain in itself is a multitasking machine. Some of its parts will be working individually while simultaneously working in tandem with other parts. For instance, it will control the eyes, the mouth, and the hands when eating a meal. It is so effective that it can do all these things and at the same time facilitate dealing with more than two or three jobs at the same time.
However, the brain also has its limits, and the more tasks that you throw at it simultaneously, the higher the margin of error and the chance of getting fatigued. As a result, your employees can only handle a finite number of tasks at a go — the trick is identifying this number.
Technology Can Help
The flip side of single-tasking might not be possible for most businesses, which makes looking for alternatives essential. Technology definitely has an important role in enhancing the efficiency of multitasking. It improves how easily employees can understand the different aspects of the job and how well they can execute the tasks.
It also helps to monitor errors and identify them before it is too late. For instance, a workflow visualization board will easily help a new or even veteran employee to understand complex parts of the workflow in an easily explained way. As a result, any company that wishes to embrace multitasking at a large scale ought to be ready to invest in the necessary technology.
WIP Limits Should Also Matter
Technology will only take you so far, and with time, the efficiency it can provide will reach full capacity. Even with the best technologies out there, there will be that limit after which employees will start committing a lot of errors. This is where the WIP (work in progress) limit comes in.
You have to identify the number of tasks that employees can deal with at optimal efficiency. To avoid any undesirable errors, you should avoid passing this limit. This way, you can avoid fatiguing employees and reduce the time wasted when switching between tasks.
As much as multitasking may kill productivity, it certainly has a pivotal role to play in the modern business world which has limited staff members and resources. The trick is learning how to eliminate the waste that it exposes your organization. Invest in the right technology and use WIP limits to make the best out of it.
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