During a poor economy, a retail company I was working for hired a new CFO. His first response was to cut inventory in the warehouse. This immediately achieved huge savings and the bottom-line looked great…for a few months. Then reality hit. No inventory in the warehouse led to empty shelves in the stores and ultimately reduced sales.
Doing more with less didn’t work in the long run. Yet in poor economic times this is what most companies try. They initiate a hiring freeze, cut training, and reduce marketing. Short term it is successful; long-term it risks failure.
The key to successfully doing more with less is good management, particularly in the area of leading people.
Do less with less rather than trying to do everything with less. Before cutting costs take time to consider the core strengths of the organization. Focus on those plans that will sustain your organization, add to the bottom-line, and set the organization up for the future. Doing more with less means achieving greater results in a few key areas. Spend time and money on training so staff can enhance their skills and be more effective.
Effective coaching can make a positive difference. Employees are the key to organizational success. Focus on the achievement of goals and not just projects or tasks. In challenging economies, without a clear change in focus, individuals may keep trying to achieve more and more. When this happens stress levels rise, productivity is reduced, morale falls, and individual health is affected. Make coaching a priority.
- Ensure those who feel the impact of change are part of the discussion and the resolution. Refrain from jumping into dictate mode or motivating by fear.
- Build a clear understanding about the “why” of the situation, the cause, the decisions, and how they can be supportive.
- Be open and receptive to input from your team. Allow questions. Listen to their input and the responses. Accept the expression of feelings. This builds trust, which is critical for strengthening relationships. Strong, trusting relationships create enthusiasm and focused energy.
Your attitude as a leader is important. Strive to re-frame your own negative thoughts. Look for the positives in every situation so that you can provide strong leadership, guidance, and support to your team.
Focus on organizational strengths and prioritize what is truly important. Before arbitrarily cutting human resources and budgets take time to think. Determine what is important. You can lead your organization to achieve more with less.