Common refrains I hear in every organization I walk into are “we need more resources,” “we have too many meetings,” and “I have too much work.” It is almost universal. The reality is adding resources should be the last in a long line of other solutions to this critical issue. It’s a strange phenomenon, but time is treated as if it is limitless in organizations. We keep piling on activities as if there isn’t a cost to it. The bottom line is if every organization faces the same equation…
The trick is to reduce the top number, the numerator, while making sure the bottom number, the denominator, is the best, high-performing set of resources you can have.
Here are 7 other proven strategies to help create efficiencies and capacity:
1. Reduce steps. We are in the habit of creating processes for the exceptions and including so many steps that are designed to please someone rather than being a true business reason. When I walk into an organization, without the burden of history and without the need to pay homage to a person or an agenda, I can find ways to reduce work immediately. The trick is for us inside organizations to think clinically about where to do this.
2. Stop doing. It’s maddening the amount of work that is manufactured for needless reasons in organizations. So many reports are being created, horrifically manually in many cases, that are not used, or the value they are used for does not even cover the cost of producing the report. This is one of many examples. Ask yourself, what would happen if I did not do this? Then ask, would a customer pay for this. If it doesn’t contribute to the bottom line in a specific way, aren’t a regulatory type of requirement, or are about creating growth, it’s best to eliminate it.
3. Get better talent. Not all heads are equal. You know in your own lives the people who do twice the work of others. Find those people. Create an environment where high-performing people want to come and be successful. Eliminate average, and let’s not even waste our time or the ink by talking about low performers. Do I want to hire 3 people to clean 12 stalls in my barn because they are slow or one powerhouse? The answer is obvious and is also obvious in the workplace.
4. Be a Technology Beast. With the use of AI, Bots, more sophisticated applications, we can eliminate work and speed up other work such that it can fundamentally change our game. That is without even more fully utilizing the technology already available! We get into a cycle of being too busy to learn about tools and technology that could make us better in the long run. Break the cycle and focus on one technological solution at a time to make us stupid fast.
5. Many people doing the same thing. Look at a meeting next time you are sitting in it. Often, we have multiple layers in a meeting, which creates redundancy, expense, wasted time, and disempowers people. I wouldn’t have two people clean the same stall. Or, have one watch while the other cleaned. I would have each take a side of the barn and do different work. It’s so clear in the barn example, but when we go into companies, we have redundancies everywhere. They often are the result of “sensitivities” or politics. High-performing teams don’t allow such wasteful distractions to keep them from winning.
6. Do/Decide/Delegate/Discard. Be in a constant state of action. Be more vigilant about doing one of these actions when you are faced with work. The first option is to do it and ideally right away so that you don’t have to touch things multiple times. The second option is to decide about it. We put decisions off. If you need more information, get the information, and then decide but…decide! The third option is to delegate it. (Pro tip – make a list on the left side of a piece of paper of all the things you are doing that others could/should, and on the right side, a list of all the things only you should do and need to do more of and reduce the left and refocus on the right side.) The last option is to discard it. (See #2 above.)
7. Fast. Simple. Good. Done. I have a terrific framework used by high-performing organizations that have helped many clients create efficiencies. Take a quick read about what it is by clicking on that hyperlink. It works and is a HUGE difference-maker.
After you do all the above and you need more resources, add them.