Almost everyone is doing more with less these days! No matter where you look, there are plenty of job openings, and too few workers—a domino effect from the pandemic with additional root causes that are far too complex to address in a blog post. Before you keep trying to hire a body to help relieve the load, there are a few things you can do!

Prior to the pandemic and its resulting organizational train wrecks, many companies were already doing more with less, because to be honest, most of the time that’s how the world of business generally operates. And that works, until it doesn’t! It seems we don’t find out it’s not working until someone exits the organization. Don’t let that happen!

I have never worked for a company with an overabundance of workers—every team I have been on ran very lean, even if not in the purest sense of the business concept. Since business is about making money, cost management is imperative. There are many costs. However, leanness as I have experienced has usually been about efficient cost management, usually in the form of headcount.

One way to manage the cost of labor, that I have not seen practiced well anywhere in my 21-year career, is to make sure you have your “house” in order within your business, and its teams. This kind of thinking can save huge dollars, and address real issues. Honestly, there are many things most businesses could do to improve their issues with being too lean, and it’s not by adding workers!

However, to improve the issues caused by being too lean, it’s necessary to ask some basic questions in key areas of business teams. The graphic to the right shows at least 10 areas of a team to optimize for better performance and output. Neglect one and inefficiency surfaces, wasting valuable time, focus and money that could be spent elsewhere. Each pillar makes the team successful, so if any single pillar is neglected, the result will be working harder and not smarter. That is not good for any business that wants to be profitable.


Sometimes its good to come back to the basics and ask simple, but telling questions:

  1. Does my team operate from a clear understanding of why we exist and according to what our key value props are to the organization? Are we spending the majority of our time, focus and energy on those things daily?
  2. Is the right person leading this team? Do they care about the team? Does their team respect them? Does their team follow them? If not, what is lacking? Who will address the deficiencies?
  3. Do we have the right players with the appropriate skill sets on the team? Where are there redundancies in skill sets? Where are there gaps? What is our plan to right size them?
  4. Does the team have the appropriate tools, systems, and software to deliver what the organization needs from them? If not, what is this costing the business? Why are those things not a priority? Is the team properly trained to efficiently use or manage its tools, systems and software? If not, why?
  5. Are there clear standards in place for what the team is producing? Are they consistently followed? Are they shared and demonstrated across the team? Are they collectively upheld ?
  6. Are the team’s processes reasonable for the work ? Can work be simplified? Does the output keep up with organizational demand?
  7. How are work requests captured, assigned and delivered across the team? Is the workload balanced across all contributors? Are the expectations reasonable and fair for completing the work?
  8. Does everyone have the same expectations for their performance? How are team members held accountable for their work? Are gaps being addressed and performance managed? If not, why?
  9. Do team members feel part of the team? Do they feel like they can each come to their job, give their best work or innovative ideas every day and be appreciated? Is there drama on the team, and if so, where is it originating from? Is it being addressed appropriately?
  10. Is there a culture of empowerment or is the team being micromanaged? If any part of it is being micromanaged, why? What are the root causes of the micromanagement? What are the costs of the micromanagement?

Where you cannot provide and affirmative response to these questions, you will need to do work. Every question where the answer is no, there is great opportunity to optimize. As you optimize, you will get more out of the team in one way or another.

What will you do to help your team optimize to recover lost time, energy, and focus? If you do, they can then focus on their best work, drive great results. This sets you up to win because an optimized team produces optimized results!

Let’s get to work!