How to get more done when you’re juggling multiple roles in your NFP

If you work in HR or recruitment for an Australian NFP, chances are that you’re juggling a lot more than HR. According EthicalJobs.com.au’s most recent survey of NFP employers, for organisations with an HR person, almost half (48%) of those staff have additional responsibilities on top of their HR responsibilities!

Having one staff member who wears many hats isn’t necessarily a bad thing – in fact, it could mean that your organisation’s mission is the number one priority, and that resources are allocated first and foremost to achieving that mission.

But if you’re that staff member, it could mean you’re jumping between roles like recruitment, payroll, volunteer management, performance management, training, and culture and engagement. You’re thinking big – and also staying on top of the details.

While juggling multiple roles can indeed be rewarding and expand your skillset, it can also create stress and potentially lead to burn out.

So how can you manage the diverse responsibilities of your roles when you need to be making an impact in so many areas? Here are a few tips to help:

1. Prioritise

It’s easy to feel like everything needs to be done urgently, so everything must be top priority! But in reality, you can always order over things by priority – and doing so will give you greater clarity around your core goals and impact.

On a regular basis – ideally in consultation with your manager – take some time out to map out each of your roles, and then the tasks required for each of them, and then rank them by priority.

An ‘importance vs urgency’ matrix can be really helpful here as a tool for identifying what should come first.

Once you have a list of priorities, make time to revisit it regularly and update it tasks are completed, or organisational demands change.

Trade-offs will be inevitable, but you should make sure you’re spending time on your ‘important’ tasks – not just getting caught up ‘in putting out fires’ created by your ‘urgent” tasks.

2. Plan

How often have you reached 5pm only to realise that really important thing you needed to do just hasn’t happened?

It might sound simple, but scheduling your week in advance is a great way to get clear on what needs to be done by when. Fridays are the perfect time to do this – it means you’ll start the new week knowing exactly what’s ahead.

When it comes to breaking down individual days, block out time for priority work. Ideally, put aside time for important tasks at the beginning of the day – before everything else gets in the way.

And follow David Allen’s “two-minute rule”: if it takes two minutes or less to complete a task – like following up on an email or making a quick phone call – do it now.

On top of that, aim to focus on one job at a time. Neuroscience research shows multitasking is, in fact, ‘switchtasking’ – and that it takes much longer than completing individual tasks consecutively.

So how can you actually focus on one single task – especially when you’re the go-to person in the office, like many HR professionals are? Take yourself to a quiet space or politely tell colleagues you’re unavailable for the next hour. (You can do this easily by creating an email autoreply so anyone who emails you knows that you’re unavailable).

You’ll be much more helpful to others if you feel good about crossing a critical thing off your to-do list.

3. Delegate

As part of the prioritisation of your workload, determine if there are tasks that are important – but that you don’t actually need to do yourself.

While it’s fair to say everyone working in a not-for-profit is busy, a task you don’t have time for might be a great development opportunity or an exciting new project for another staff member or a volunteer.

When delegating, focus on the desired outcome rather than the process you want the person to follow. After all, what works for you might not work for everyone. Allow staff to find their own route to a successful outcome – it’ll unleash their creativity, make the task more enjoyable for them, and might even be a learning opportunity for you.

It’s common to find yourself taking on roles beyond what you were originally hired for. But by creating a few simple processes, you can ensure you’re clear and focused enough to succeed in juggling your multiple roles – and ultimately succeed in achieving the mission that called upon you to juggle those roles in the first place.

Image: Juan Pablo Rodriguez

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