Far too often I hear the complaint, “We don’t have enough people!” It’s used as an excuse to explain why things aren’t completed correctly or when they aren’t done at all. Unfortunately, many managers believe they need more people because the work they require their people to do is not getting done. It’s a logical argument, but they automatically default to blaming “personnel levels” without much thought to other areas and certainly without self-reflection. This excuse removes them and their people’s capabilities from the equation. This is the “checkers” level of management. One should strive to achieve the “chess” level of management. See an excellent article on this subject here.
The real challenges:
Poor prioritization – Do your people know what the highest priorities are? I have worked in so many organizations that do not prioritize the tasks their people are supposed to complete. This causes major problems. I have rarely seen them prioritize between administrative, operational, or developmental tasks. The problem with this is that when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. Personnel development gets the same priority as updating an office memo. What ends up happening is managers prioritize only the things that will get them in trouble with the boss. Which leaves much to be desired in many areas. The solution is to be deliberate about the priorities of the organization. If you don’t want people guessing, you must make it clear where the focus should be.
Poor Leadership – The leadership of the organization is charged with providing vision and inspiration to achieve goals. If the leadership has failed to provide clear goals, how can there be inspired employees? There needs to be deliberate communication among the leaders of the organization to address both the vision and inspiration. Without vision and inspiration, you have managers. Managers are great, but without leaders, the organization will struggle with change, innovation, and motivation.
No creativity – Your team needs to be creative when problem-solving. When things aren’t getting done, or when they are done poorly, there is an underlying issue. It could be training, it could be discipline, it could be equipment, it could be technology, and it could be a lack of people. The point is to utilize your people as best as possible. If you are only filling personnel gaps with random people without regard to their skills or how they complement the rest of the team, you will lose.
The moral of the story is to address low workforce levels only after looking at the other possibilities first. Hiring more people into an already mediocre organization only continues the mediocrity.