What Should a Leader Do When the Team Is “at Capacity”?

A common struggle leaders face is the conflict between wanting to raise expectations that will cost people on the team time and energy while simultaneously hearing from the team that “they are already maxed out” or “they are at capacity.” It is possible that “being at capacity” is an excuse, and it is possible that the team is really maxed out. So what should a leader do?

If the capacity statement is reality, these three capacity cures will help the team create more time and energy. If the capacity statement is merely an excuse, these will help expose that. So either way, the following are wise moves for leaders to take.

1. Clarify what is most important.

If a leader gives the team ten priorities, the team is going to be “at capacity” all of the time. Leaders owe it to their teams to help them understand what is most important in each season. Simply by clarifying what is most important now, capacity will be created as people will leverage time and energy toward what is communicated and celebrated. Leaders will likely always have more ideas than time and resources to execute those ideas, so clarity is critical.

2. Stop doing the less fruitful.

To create more capacity, help the team stop doing things. And then leverage the time, energy, and financial resources from the things that were stopped towards the most important. If leaders will lead their teams through the discipline of stopping the least fruitful things, capacity will be created.

3. Develop your team.

Leaders are responsible for the development of the teams they lead. If a leader’s team is 5% better than they were a year ago, then the team has 5% more capacity. If a leader of a team keeps declaring that their team is at capacity, and if the workload is really the same as it has been, then that leader has admitted that the team has not been developed. And that is on the leader.

Clarity. Discipline. Development. Those are three strong capacity cures that leaders have at their disposal. If you utilize them you will help your team create more capacity OR you will expose the excuse that “capacity” has become.