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5 questions for leaders to help them do more with less.

Do More With Less is the mantra for almost every organisation we work with. People need to be laser focused and keenly effective in every action to help organisations survive and thrive.

“Necessity is the Mother of Invention”

Plato

We live in an era of increasing competition and unprecedented pressure. What we could take for granted some years back, now must be earned. The previous recession has taught all of us an important lesson. This lesson is to practice austerity as a way of doing business, to stay nimble. Whilst our economic backdrop is causing anxiety and ambiguity, we can take more control of the way we work, and this is critical during turbulent times.

Here’s a quick tip sheet for helping managers navigate a crisis

Get Agile

In response, more and more organisations are creating new structures and processes to support an agile working environment, however changing habits of businesses and people in it is easier said than done.

Most people make the mistake of assuming that doing more with less means cost cutting. Whist this may be one of the tools, it is definitely not the primary area which will deliver the results. And yes, it definitely does not mean cutting corners. A much bigger, but less appreciated source of productivity and doing more with less is identifying “Fake Work” and relentlessly getting behind eliminating it.

Fake Work by Brent D Peterson & Gaylan W. Neilson

Fake Work

In their book “Fake Work: Why People Are Working Harder than Ever but Accomplishing Less, and How to Fix the Problem” Brent D. Peterson & Gaylan W. Neilson describe this concept as work that is well intention but not explicitly aligned with the strategies and goals of the organisation. People who engage in fake work just don’t notice that what they’re doing is not producing intended outcomes. Instead they’re often very busy but they mistake activity for results. Just think how much of time is lost in inefficient meetings for instance. Working hard is not a barometer, because you can work very hard and still be building a road to nowhere.

Drive towards being effective
Fake Work

There is often a real disconnect between the organisation’s strategic goals and how these translate into day-to-day work. Each line manager is critical in ensuring clarity of focus and drive to ensure people eliminate work that simply doesn’t make a contribution.

So, in these turbulent times with many employees now working remotely it is even more imperative than ever that line managers get a grip on performance to ensure their organisation is focused, driven and on purpose. This is the key to help people do more with less.

Focus on the gap to help you do more with less

The Execution Gap

The gap between strategic intention and actual performance can be filled if line managers engage in the process creatively. It’s not enough to hold information meetings virtually or face to face for that matter. They need to focus on how they engage their team in their endeavours.

Some of the challenges organisation’s face are:

  • Poorly articulated and poorly focused strategies, then plans that are:
  • Poorly written, too long, and hard to read and understand.
  • Shared with managers without assurance that they understand the reasoning and the expectations.
  • Not shared with teams and individuals across the company.
  • Ignored because of apathy, mistrust, doubt, or lack of guidance.

The key question to help you do more with less

Line Managers needs to start interrogating the work that people do and encourage their team to do the same. Communication needs to be looped to ensure full understanding and most importantly processing. Sadly, all too often, leaders disseminate information and think ‘I’ve done my job’ but that is only the start. It is not enough to share information.

Information needs to be experienced, explored, analysed and interpreted (consistently) before you can be assured that people are on-board.

Instead, everyone needs to challenge ‘why?’ they are doing something not just do it because that is what they always do. And, particularly now with the pressure on, people feel confused and concerned. They need clarity to help them move forward. How can you do more with less if you don’t know why you are doing what you are doing?

Here you will find a tip sheet on enhancing your team communication

Time to Get Resourceful

Your focus can make a significant difference to your resourcefulness. You are more willing to experiment and explore. This will set a great example for your team. If you view something as negative it limits your creativity and ability to problem solve. Whereas if, when you face a challenge, you take time to re-frame it to focus in on positive outcomes – what can be gained – then you are much more likely to find a successful solution. And, just like you need to exercise your body, you need to exercise your mental muscles in the right way too.

Reframing

Reframing is a simple technique with great power. As you shift your thinking about your situation, there is a change in emotional tone and the meaning that you give to your circumstances. You can choose to move your experience from a negative frame to a more hopeful one, filled with opportunities. This process offers you an expanded view of your reality.

One example of reframing is redefining a problem as a challenge. Such a redefinition activates a different way of being. If you think about it, problem has a heavy quality to it, while the notion of a challenge is enlivening.

What challenges are you facing right now that would benefit from reframing to open up your resourcefulness?

Focus on what you can influence.
Circle of Influence, Stephen Covey

When the pressure is on, it is easy to overlook the simple things that can really help you get resourceful. So, it’s a good time to remind you of the Circle of Influence from Stephen Covey. Here you are reminded to focus on the things you do have control over and the more you concentrate on this the more you extend your circle of influence.

Identify three actions you can take to right now to enhance your control over the situation you find yourself in and through this help your team perform.

Get creative; get effective

Get creative; get effective

Know that you have the resourcefulness to do this. Imagine how you will feel if you can dramatically improve the focus and drive of your team, beyond expectations – wouldn’t it feel good for you and for them?

Start to experiment playfully with different ways of communicating and notice what a difference this makes. Remember make it an experience for them; not just information.

Here are a few questions to get you thinking.

  • How can you make goals more visible and captivating?
  • What would happen if…? (fill in the blanks, your if’s will be different from ours)
  • What can you do in team meetings to get everyone up and about, change their state from passive to active?
  • How can you get them smiling and laughing?
  • And finally, what can you do to connect with individuals compassionately during these tough times?

In conclusion, we’d love to hear what you are doing to get resourceful now. By sharing, we all build new connections and community that, together, can achieve amazing things! ENJOY!