People are the life-blood of any company. They’re the most precious resource. Some companies take special care to ensure it’s people are aware of how important they are – like Starbucks who refers to their employees as “partners.” There is always too much work and not enough people. Making hard choices and prioritizing projects is certainly one way to focus people resources on the things that matter.
But more people isn’t always the right answer when it seems like there’s too much work to go around. Before throwing more resources at something, ask yourself these questions…
Are the team’s goals and priorities aligned?
First things first. Getting the most out of the team requires everyone to be rowing in the same direction. When a team is misaligned, resources will seem constrained as people work towards different goals. This is a quite common issue and can make it look like more people may help, but in reality, what can really improve output is realigning people’s work with common goal to ensure their precious time – that one resource we can’t make more of – is spent on the things that matter.
Is the structure of the organization an enabler or a hindrance?
Organizational structure is so important. It needs to be thoughtful, deliberate, and most importantly considered from the viewpoint of the variety of stakeholders it impacts. When an organization structures its internal resources in such a way that requires stakeholders to compete for those resources, an unnatural and crippling friction can emerge. Shared resources become overwhelmed with so many competing requests, and the people fighting for those resources become frustrated when their projects get delayed or deprioritized. Ensuring the structure of your organization enables forward progress and minimizes friction is a key way to unlock more value from the resources you already have.
How is communication working as a foundation to collaboration?
Effective collaboration begins with effective communication. Teams must collaborate, therefore teams must communicate. Finding the right cadence and medium for communication can help teams stay aligned and ultimately extract more value from the same amount of resources. Keeping everyone on the same page through communication is a great way to maximize your output while simultaneously reducing frustration within the team.
Are there opportunities to learn and grow within your organization?
Investing in your people should always be a priority. Developing skills, grooming leadership, and expanding horizons is a win-win: you’ll instill confidence in your employees that you’re invested in their growth, and your business will benefit from said investment in the form of more diverse skill sets and better leaders.
CFO: What happens if we train them and they leave? CEO: What happens if we don’t and they stay?
All too often, individuals are relegated into a specific role, certain skills get sharper, while other grow dull. Consider a rotation program, similar to what’s done in medical schools. During specific periods, let team members rotate through other teams. Let the paid search specialist work alongside the email marketer to learn a new platform and the nuances of email. They’ll not only gain new skills but you’ll have better, more knowledgeable coverage during vacations or when there’s an even bigger hole: after someone leaves the team.
Now of course, the time does come when you really do need more people to get the job done, but before you come to that conclusion, ask yourself: can I be using my existing resources more effectively and efficiently to drive better outcomes?