How to Get More Accomplished at the Office With Fewer People

Has this scenario happened at your work? An important member of your team is leaving and you get a call from upper management or HR letting you know that due to budgetary reasons, there won’t be a replacement hired for that position any time soon. Good news however … despite the loss of one of your best workers, you’re expected to deliver the same amount of production! (Yes, that was sarcasm!!) So now you need to ask an already overloaded team to take on even more responsibility and cover the now-gaping hole.

Despite the overall economic recovery for the country over the last few years, companies found out that they can still survive with fewer people doing the work. Which makes it no surprise they would be reluctant to replace a lot of workers. However, as a manager, you are held accountable and responsible to maintain the productivity level of your team while not jeopardizing quality or performance standards.

Here are some steps you can implement to motivate your overworked staff during these lean times.

  1. Be honest. The facts are the facts. There is no sense trying to downplay reality.


  1. Ask for input. Gather your team and explore the possibility of reassigning duties to balance workload, and seek out more efficient processes. It’s very common for the people actually doing the work to know ways to make it more efficient and effective. However, they choose not to bring it up because they think no one will listen. (Don’t be THAT kind of boss!!)


  1. Assign duties to staff members that are compatible with their unique strengths and talents.


  1. Show appreciation in a unique and personalized manner. Behavior rewarded is behavior repeated.


  1. Consider flexibility in scheduling. Accommodate whenever possible the needs and demands of each team member with regard to his or her family and personal life. We don’t want to add further stress to their busy lives.


  1. Eliminate any procedures or tasks that are not necessary or worthwhile.  Make sure that even though the process worked some time ago, it still warrants consideration and execution today.


  1. Challenge the habit of conducting too many meetings. Make sure that when you do hold a meeting, invite only those who really need to be there. Allow for team members to attend the meeting and to leave when subjects being discussed do not pertain to them, and keep your meetings short.


  1. Demonstrate the attitudes and behaviors you would expect from every member of the team. If they hear you complain, whine, or focus on the stress, they will follow your lead. So be authentic, and demonstrate an appropriate example.


  1. Focus on the priorities. Here is a great tool for you and your staff to use to maintain focus. It’s called the weekly staff meeting with yourself. Every Friday afternoon, this individual task should be performed. Write it down on a sheet of paper.


OBJECTIVES:  What results do I want by the end of the week?  Write them down and rank them.


ACTIVITIES:  What do I have to do to achieve my goals?  List the activities necessary and place them in sequence.


TIME:  How much time will each activity require?


SCHEDULE: Look at your calendar and decide when you can do each activity. Make an appointment with yourself!

This activity is a strategic plan that keeps the focus and eliminates distractions. We feel good about ourselves to the degree that we feel we have control in our lives. This task will give us a greater sense of control.

Increased efficiencies are often the by-product of a company being flexible and adaptive. If you can’t increase efficiency during an economic downturn, for instance, you’re likely to go out of business. Businesses that can’t do more with less tend to go away.

Finally, celebrate the successes that your team is generating at every opportunity and make the celebration significant to them.

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