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Heidi Tillmanns

Strategies for Multitasking in the Sign Business

The highly vaunted skill can come with a cost to both employers and employees.

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THE PHONE PROPPED against your shoulder and ear, you type out a quick email response while hitting the thumbs up emoji on a Teams message. All this while you nod to your employee who in great ninja style slipped into the office quietly to get an approval on something that couldn’t wait. Your smile to them as they leave quickly fades as you glance down at that cold cup of coffee you started 4 hours ago. Typical day in a busy shop.

In the dynamic and fast-paced world of the sign industry, the ability to multitask has often been perceived as a valuable skill. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that while multitasking can enhance productivity, it can also carry a significant cost. As an industry professional with years of experience, I understand that business growth brings growing pains, and managing these challenges requires a delicate balance between leadership, employee input and acknowledging the need for change. In this column, we’ll explore the cost of expecting your staff to multitask and provide insights for both employees and employers on how to navigate these challenges with grace.

The Cost of Multitasking

  • Diminished Quality: When employees juggle multiple tasks simultaneously, the quality of their work may suffer. Attention to detail and precision can be compromised, which is especially critical in the sign industry where accuracy is paramount.
  • Increased Stress: Multitasking can lead to elevated stress levels among employees, affecting their overall well-being. High stress levels can result in burnout, decreased job satisfaction and increased turnover.
  • Reduced Productivity: Paradoxically, while multitasking is often believed to enhance productivity, it can lead to inefficiencies. Rapidly switching between tasks can result in wasted time and decreased efficiency.
  • Resistance to Change: As your business grows, employees may resist changes in workflows or procedures that have served them well in the past. Resistance can impede the adoption of more efficient processes.

Advice for Employees

  • Speak Up: Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns or suggest alternative approaches. Open communication is essential for both personal growth and the success of your organization.
  • Embrace Adaptability: Understand that change is inevitable as the industry evolves. Embrace new approaches, technologies and workflows as opportunities for personal and professional growth.
  • Prioritize Tasks: When faced with multitasking demands, prioritize tasks based on importance and deadlines. This can help you maintain focus and ensure the highest-quality work.

Advice for Employers

  • Empower Employees: Encourage your staff to bring suggestions and ideas for improvement. Create an environment where they feel valued and their input is considered seriously.
  • Provide Guidance: Be a leader who offers clear direction and guidance during times of change. Employees are more likely to embrace new policies and procedures when they understand the reasons behind them.
  • Acknowledge Unsuccessful Policies: Recognize that not all policies and procedures will be successful. Show grace by acknowledging when a particular approach is not working and be open to revising and improving it.
  • Invest in Training: As your business evolves, invest in training and skill development for your employees to equip them with the tools and knowledge they need to thrive in the changing landscape of the sign industry.

In conclusion, the cost of expecting staff and yourself to multitask is a challenge that the sign industry faces during periods of growth. It is essential to recognize that multitasking can have negative consequences, such as reduced quality, increased stress and resistance to change.

Both employees and employers play critical roles in addressing these challenges. For employees, it’s about speaking up, embracing adaptability and prioritizing tasks. For employers, it’s about empowering your staff, providing guidance, acknowledging unsuccessful policies and investing in training. Navigating these growing pains with grace and effective communication will ultimately lead to a stronger, more resilient and successful sign industry.

She is the director of trail and infrastructure for the Trans Canada Trail in Dundas, ON, Canada. Contact Heidi at htillmanns@tctrail.ca.

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