“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” So goes the start of Charles Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities, and so goes the times in which we currently live. With the economy a train wreck, the edicts have come down from upon high – cut, cut, cut. And we’re not talking about the government here, where a cut means your budgeted increase is cut, no, these are real. If you spent $100 this year, you only get $80 for next year.
And while this can be an opportunity to get rid of some “dead weight,” the legal department usually has some problems with the obvious, so other rationales are used, none of which ever make sense to the survivors. There were ten people in the group, and on Monday there are only eight. The survivors of these slashings inevitably get to hear, “now we all have to work together,” or “dig deeper” or “put in the extra effort.” I am constantly amazed at how companies execute these orders.
Several years ago as a manager, having survived a 30% reduction at a large manufacturer, I asked my boss, “OK, since we are not getting any tools to make us more efficient, what are we going to stop doing?” After giving me the death stare for what seemed like forever, he realized it was going to be tough to motivate people already working 12 hour days, 6 days a week to work longer, he simply said, “I don’t know, but you’re right, we have to take a look at it.” We used it as an opportunity to review our processes, and drastically restructure the department, plus eliminated about 20 reports that were either redundant, or nobody looked at anymore.
So, while times are tight, and you are asked to do more with less, don’t just ask your people to “suck it up.” Take a look at your processes, look for waste, and ways to improve. It doesn’t always take new technology. Often times, you will find that you can use technology you already have in place to help you implement the change. But you have to look.
There’s an opportunity out there – you just have to look for it!
Let me know your thoughts!