*This article was originally published in JP Morgan Chase Ink magazine
Written by : Lawrence Houck
What can you do to maintain momentum with fewer people on board?
In this time of tightening budgets, many groups at JPMorgan Chase need to do more with fewer employees and resources.
The challanges that managers and employees face can be considerable, but there are some steps that people can take to help themselves and their groups manage through these though times.
A POSITIVE THING
“The dirst think (to think about) is morale,” said Yoon Cannon, a business coach and consultant.
“The positioning must be right so that when you give the message that the business is restructuring or reorganizing, it doesn’t create a sour environment,” Cannon said.
It helps to see the changes as a “growth opportunity for your team,” she said.
When resources are limited, it gives people a chance to re-evaluate the job they are doing and to come up with new, creative ways to get things done, Cannon said.
“You need to make sure that each individual is performing at their best,” she said.
Managers should solicit contributios from employees about what that a team can do a better job with the resources that are available.
“If they take on the cause of the company and the company’s challanges, it helps the staff take ownership,” Cannon said. “When they take ownership, they start to think differently.”
That new thinking is key to identifying areas where greater efficiency gains can take place.
“You start getting fresh ideas and the group is really so much more powerful that one or two people trying to solve these problems,”Cannon Said.
It’s also important to addess individual concerns regularly, she said.
“Be careful not to just have contact with someone on a monthly basis or think that group contact is contact enough,” she said.”That’s not going to give (managers) a true heartbeat for the organization.”
Individual conversations help manager understand the concerns that people might not feel comfortable airing in a group setting.
“They then can give them the right tools to overcome and turn frustration into energy,” she said. “A lot of times, it could be a short, five to 1–minute conversation that can turn people around in their attitude.”
While creating the right attitude is essential, that alone won’t help you meet the challanges of doing more with less.
It’s also important to take a hard look at the current workflow of the group, according to productivity consultant Sara Caputo.
“First and foremost, you should make sure there is real clarity around the team’s or department’s goal,” she said.
Clarity is important becuase a group may have to make choices about what can and can’t be done. “Some things need to shift” Caputo said.
Like Cannon, Caputo said there is opportunity in the loss.
“We can hit the reset button, revisit our goals as a team and get energized around them,” Caputi said. “That’s the best way to get the team on board.”
Hitting the reset button means that everything you do gets a second look, said consultant Olivia Fox of Sputfire Communications.
“In having to do more with less, you will naturally have to get better at priorization,” she said. “It will force you to delete things from your to-do, should-do or could-do list, which is some thing you should do anyway.”
For recommended being ruthless in deciding what truly needs to be done. This is essential, she said, becuase focusing solely on being efficient won’t get you where you need to be.
“Are you being efficient, or are you being effective?” Fox said. “You can be efficient”at all the wrong things.”
Kathleen Alessandro, president of Energized Solutions, agreed that deciding what needs to be done is an important early step.
“Departments, tea,s and companies need to come together and clarify what our priority is,” she said. “We can’t just assume that when other people are let go and we’re left with the same amount of work that when other people are let go and we’re left with same amount of work that we can do it. We’re deluding ourselves to think that it can all get done.”
Alessandro said managers and employees should also take a close look at their work process.
For example, are employees using e-mail in an effective way in the office, or does it interrupt the workflow and cause distractions? Basic discussion about best practices in the workplace can bear fruit.
“I think we have to revisit what are not necessarily useful things that we’ve learned to do over the last 10 years,” Alessandro said.
Alessandro added that incorporating the changes into the culture of a workplace is essential because running leaner, more efficient organizations is a business change that is here to stay.
“It’s not just that there’s layoff in the company or that there’s a bit of a downturn,” she said. “This is a whole different 21st century model.”