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How to Perform Your Team Role Within Your Bandwidth Part II

Bandwidth is the maximum sustainable level of effort available from each team member. Each person can only do so much. Learn what your limits are as far as the number of simultaneous tasks you can handle. Understand that when you switch between projects there is a loss of momentum. When you return to Project A, after having been on Project B for a week or two, you will need to reorient yourself. Likewise, try to understand when your teammates become fully booked, and are unable to add any new assignments. Avoid over-burdening teammates, by understanding when they are overloaded.

The Japanese word karoshi means death from overwork. This can happen when someone is scheduled well beyond his reasonable bandwidth for an unreasonable length of time. Most organizations care enough about their people that they try to prevent this from happening. They know that people are not as productive after working a full day. They know people have families. They pay attention to their people, and how they deal with stress.

Unfortunately, not all organizations care about over-burdening their employees. You need to monitor the effects on your own health and well-being. If your organization has shown that it does not care about your well-being, it is time to update your resume, and move on—and perhaps think about starting your own business.

To perform your team role within your bandwidth:

  1. Be clear about your role and the roles of others. Is there documentation anywhere?
  2. Create a task list for yourself, and check with teammates to verify it.
  3. Find out how your role must coordinate or sequence with others
  4. Be aware of dependency, or predecessor-successor relationships. Do your teammates have task lists? For example, do you have to finish before a certain other teammate can begin their work?
  5. Be clear about when your assignments are due, and if there is an acceptable date range.
  6. Update your knowledge and skills regularly and be willing to acquire NEW knowledge and skills.
  7. Find out what would cause your role or assignments to change.
  8. Know your bandwidth and limits. Manage your stress levels. Know when you need to take a break.

Thomas Charles Belanger is the author of Teamwork in Ten Days: Building Successful Teams in the Arts, Sports, Business, and Government, available at and Barnes and Noble.

©2012, Thomas Belanger

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