When “Less is More” Becomes “Doing More with Less”
Seems like more and more we are faced with getting projects completed with fewer people, less time and smaller budgets. As leaders, it's not just people management that we are tasked with; it is also resource management. How do you make the most of what you have when you have it? Moreover, how do you keep your team's morale up when more and more the baseline is being able to achieve more with less?
Understand/Explain Why Resources are Scarce
Before you launch this project, gather your team and talk about WHY you may have strained resources. Your team understanding the situation is critical for their buy-in. At this point, you should have nothing to hide. Be clear about where the priorities lie and be honest about why you are all working this way. In most cases, your reasonable team members will understand and appreciate your candor.
Keep Motivated, Reward and Recognize and Avoid the Negative
Working with limited resources isn't ideal, and you have to acknowledge the extra effort being put in. Take the time to give your team recognition individually and as a group. Encourage peer to peer appreciation, too. Peer recognition is just as valuable - if not more so - to a team that is working hard. Also, get ahead of the negative talk that can ruin morale. In a stressful situation, it can be easy to focus on the bad and commiserate with others. This negativity can be poison to your organization. If you get a whiff of discord, you should address it swiftly and keep moving forward.
Use Your Network
Don't be shy to tap into your network to help you. While you can't ask a peer or colleague to do the work for you, you can ask if they have been in a similar situation and how they got through it. Can you draw from their experience? Do they have advice or non-proprietary information they can share? Likely your network has been in a similar situation – may be not the same – but close enough so that you could learn something. Asking for help doesn't make you weak or lazy; a smart person knows when and how to ask for advice and assistance. As the saying goes, "….if you want to go far, go together."
Know Your Limits
There may be goals that are simply out of your reach with the resources you have. If that is indeed the case, you’ll have to accept that and adjust from there. That is not to say "just give up" but rather be realistic with what you have and how far you can take this project. Also, if you can pinpoint the resources you need i.e., more time, more people – then you'll have a better position to negotiate from if you get the opportunity. Don’t be afraid of the challenge but be honest about what you can accomplish.
One could easily make the argument that there is never enough time, people, or budget. However, if you use some of these techniques to help you through a tight project, you might be surprised about what you can accomplish. Set your realistic goals, keep your team motivated and power through it. Also, you might learn something along the way, too!
And don't forget...
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