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Doing more with less


Four effective and practical ways leaders can truly do more with less

IbyIMD+ Published 16 August 2021 in Leadership • 8 min read

By prioritizing projects, communicating the ‘why’ and truly recognizing how individuals perform under pressure, leaders can encourage their teams to work effectively and minimize the risk of burnout 

Doing more with less is often thought to be great for business but bad for employees.  

When times are tough, a typical response from companies is to cut staff and reduce spending. Research indicates staff layoffs have become a popular management tool to reduce costs and initiate organizational restructures. While such measures might help generate short-term gains, they rarely help senior leaders achieve their goals.  

Often, those left behind have to manage with fewer resources and experience a decline in job satisfaction, organizational commitment and overall productivity. Moreover, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, doing more with less and being challenged by uncertainty could lead to more severe workplace health issues such as burnout. The COVID-19pandemic has forced many organizations and their people into a state of high anxiety.  

Research shows the impact of the pandemic on work/life balance, with employees reporting working longer hours than before the pandemic. As many businesses face significant economic challenges posed by COVID-19-related lockdowns and restrictions, leaders need to consider more productive ways of “doing more with less” – without putting their staff at risk of severe stress and other mental health issues. 

1. Prioritize projects  

Leaders will need to be clear about what projects are helping the organization achieve its competitive advantage and strip back the projects that are not, says UNSW Business School’s Associate Professor Catherine Collins. “It’s about being savvy, not necessarily about what each individual does but rather what is the direction of the collective energy of the employees and the projects that are working on?” she says. 

To do this, leaders should identify the projects that need to be completed first and decide which ones can be put on the shelf until more resources become available. Then, consider what products or services will continue to punch above their weight? This in turn helps prioritize the organization’s collective energy.  

“When things are tight within an organization, how that organization competes with other organizations needs to be clear from the executive, right down to the team level, and what the frontline team leaders need to do…

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