Doing More with Less

Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 16:03

Guest post by Julie Pigdon

For many organisations, the euphemism “doing more with less” means simply to produce the same results, while using less people, resources and money. For employees, it may mean longer hours, more multi-skilling/tasking, higher stress and less support. So, can you really do more with less? Or can you only do less with less?

The evidence suggests that there are many cost-effective strategies you can enact to make your workplace more efficient and effective (ie: leverage technology better, enact flexible workplace conditions, have a reward and recognition program aligned with organisational goals). However increasingly, the bottom line is critically dependent on people working better together, as organisational structures flatten and employees move from project to project, team to team.

Here are some tips for you from our research, which will help you make the most of your most valuable asset – your people.

Improve communication channels

Communication is a major challenge for many organisations and there are many reasons why communication often fails. Often there is a lack of clarity, as assumptions are made about the audience and no capacity given for feedback. Communication is typically unidirectional in organisations, resulting in little opportunity for learning or improving. 

The perceptions and values of the individual communicating also affect how they communicate. So what they may think is appropriate and clear may indeed be very inappropriate and confusing to the recipient. Such exchanges can result in workplace frustration, even conflict, as often behaviour is viewed as personal; that person didn’t respond to my email quickly because they don’t like me; that person was late for our meeting because they don’t care. 

These misinterpretations and misunderstandings at work often escalate, but can be avoided if you start looking at work preferences. Once understood, work preferences demonstrate that behaviour is often simply a result of individual predilections and not a reaction to the behaviour of others.

It is also often helpful to have a common framework and language to use, to help optimise meetings, improve the clarity and impact of general work dialogue and ensure our interactions with others are efficient and effective.

So communicate regularly, appropriately, clearly (avoiding jargon), frankly yet with consideration, transparently, to all levels, in multiple formats.

And create an environment where people feel safe to speak the truth.

Working to strengths

Working to strengths is all about identifying potential, developing this potential and harnessing its power at the individual, team and organisational level.

To do this well you need to see the whole picture. Surround yourself with a diverse team, then leverage off this diversity for optimal performance. Diversity in organisations has been shown to lead to increased creativity and innovation, factors critical to maintaining success in today’s market.

Working to strengths also means focusing on opportunities, rather than challenges. It means know what your good at and know how this applies to the marketplace. It means proactively planning for success, recognizing success and celebrating success.

Valid psychometrics and 360 degree feedback tools help you play to your strengths by providing objective data for you to benchmark, measure and monitor performance improvement over time.  It is this data which will help you calculate your return on investment and continue to adapt your strategic direction over time.

Don’t forget your people

It is often said by many that our people are our greatest asset. But how much of this is simply rhetoric? Which companies actually practice what they preach?

Well, it seems that those that do are laughing all the way to the bank.  An extensive 2008 study by Personnel Today found that businesses with good HR enjoyed higher profit margins and productivity than those without. The study concluded that if an organisation increased its investment in HR by just 10%, it would boost gross profits by approximately $3000 per employee per year.

A more recent 2012 study by The Boston Consulting Group, reported similar findings. Based on a survey of more than 4,200 HR and non-HR managers in more than 100 countries worldwide across a broad range of industries, the report compares the practices of high-performing companies against those of lower-performing ones in 22 key people-management areas. What they found was that companies highly skilled in core HR practices, experience up to 3.5 times the revenue growth and as much as 2.1 times the profit margins of less capable companies. In three pivotal areas—leadership development, talent management, and performance management and rewards—the high-performing companies differentiated themselves dramatically. These companies engaged in more activities and provided more options, did so more often, and were generally more effective.

Many researchers have received similar conclusions. More and more, company profits are critically reliant on people working well together.

So don’t forget your people! Recruit them effectively, empower them appropriately, develop them well, reward them accordingly and keep them.

Julie Pigdon is the National Account Manager for Team Management Systems (TMS) who are recognised internationally as the specialist in teamwork, offering a suite of work-based feedback tools. These tools are used by more than 1.5 million people from 190 countries to empower individuals and teams, opening the way for lasting positive change. Feel free to contact Julie on 07 3368 2333 or at