And call me a softie if you want, but he too is entitled to our clemency. The pressure imposed by the record companies to produce one success after the other would be too much for many a twenty-something who in addition has responsibility for an income of 125 million dollars.

Even for us mere mortals too much workload puts a strain on our well-being. And in our collaborative work it is therefore essential that we monitor this workload, unlike at that time the Guns ‘n Roses’ record companies. This can be done by addressing two bottlenecks.  The first bottleneck is the amount of work we have, and are able to do. The second bottleneck has to do with how we perform that work today.

As far as the first bottleneck is concerned, as an organisation it would be advisable to chart the workload per employee in an objective manner.  There are measuring systems we can use for this. A structured inventory can also lead to a discussion about the number of tasks and expectations.  As an organisation, asking ourselves whether we really need to fulfill all those tasks and expectations is an essential second step. Through ‘action illusionism’, the belief that being busy is synonymous with being usefully occupied, we continue to engage in behaviour whose added value is questionable or even non-existant.

That’s why the choice referred to above about the unique contribution we seek to make is so important. It helps us to analyse and optimise our workload.  In this way we can use the choice about this unique contribution as a touchstone when deciding whether or not to respond to a request from the customer.  It also offers leadership the opportunity to continue making consistent choices and to defend them vis-a-vis external parties. This has an enormously supportive effect on all those involved in the cooperation. Unfortunately, in practice the opposite often happens.  Managers make well-intentioned exceptions and, in so doing, unintentionally put the well-being of employees under pressure.  By the way this is not just the case for strategic choices. Well-being surveys show that the manager’s behaviour plays an important role in employees’ decisions on taking a rest or a break. And every manager, myself included, will have to admit that we don’t always set the best example in this regard.  So keep in mind that a choice made is an agreement, not a suggestion.

Now a direct intervention in the workload is not always possible, for example in the case of urgent medical care today.  In this case we can still analyse critically ‘how’ we handle the work and address this if necessary.  After all, it is not always the case today that we perform the work to be done in an efficient manner. Just think of endless discussions during meetings, an inadequate document management system or digital communication channels that distract rather than support. Simplifying the modus operandi can create a lot of breathing space, which benefits well-being.  And before we set up the umpteenth working group on this subject, it is recommended that we also critically analyse – you guessed it – the critical analysis process.  Mapping work processes should be a means to an end and not an end in itself.  Often simple methods can already provide a lot of valuable input.  I myself have good experiences with ‘frustration diaries’.  Employees can use these to write down what frustrates them.  On the basis of this reporting method you can then as a team start a creative process to evolve from frustration to opportunity. The latter is of course essential.

So don’t listen to Axl Rose’s words ‘Be bitter, stay angry, and blame everyone!’.  Instead, get to work on the amount of work and on working procedures. If that doesn’t succeed, we can still work on development.