Whether wearing my General Manager or HR Director hat, staffing issues were at the centre of most business conversations with colleagues. You could guarantee that as soon as things picked up a manager’s first port of call would be to submit a recruitment requisition.
Rarely did they question what people were telling them. They would recite statements like “there’s too much to do for one person”; I’m going to need help if you want me to deliver to that deadline”; and so on.
Sometimes they were right in their belief; certainly the current trend expecting people to ‘achieve more with less’ sounds like a cop out. If people are working efficiently and to their full potential then asking them to do even more with less resource is both unrealistic and demotivating. If the problem is a tight budget then say so; a genuine explanation goes a long way, especially if the situation is temporary. If it’s a longer-term issue then you’ll need to increase the frequency of ‘authentic conversations’ to keep people on board.
More often than not employees would feel overworked when in reality they weren’t working efficiently; not for want of trying. So my first challenge to those managers would be to explore whether the employees they already had at their disposal were being supported to work to their fullest potential.
When they weren’t it usually flagged a need for better organisation and prioritisation rather than simply spreading the workload around. It also meant supporting the managers to help their people to do that.
I have found that individuals will take responsibility for achieving more and they will find a way to get the job done; so long as you appeal to their conscience in the right way. Whilst you can’t force people to perform at a high level day in, day out; you can encourage it by listening to their concerns and adapting working practices from which everyone can benefit.