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Monday, May 17, 2010

More work, less staff

As a result of downsizing, more companies are operating with considerably smaller staffs. But, at the same time, the pace of business — and the pressures to produce — are moving at an ever-faster pace. The result is that organizations have to do more with less: A larger number of duties must be performed by a smaller group of employees.

It’s a difficult challenge — and one that may require more than just tinkering at the edges by leaders. First, especially if there have been significant staff cuts, companies may need to introduce entirely new processes. To that end, organizations have to analyze how key functions are performed — everything from methods for shipping products to customer service systems — to determine the most effective ways to streamline them.

Organizations also will need to re-examine the tasks required by specific jobs, perhaps reassigning duties when necessary. Best is to involve employees in the effort, by asking for their suggestions about how to streamline both operations and jobs. In addition, leaders should help them to prioritize their duties.

Fact is, to remain productive, leaders have no choice but to find creative ways to do more with fewer people. Otherwise, over-worked employees are likely to work less productively, make many more mistakes, and, potentially, burn out — just at a time when they’re needed to operate at full speed.

The efficiencies produced by these efforts will have lasting effects, providing not only competitive advantage as the economy improves, but fostering a culture of agility and innovation critical in an environment of rapid and constant change.

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