5 ways to achieve top results from your short staffed team

24 July 2019
5 ways to achieve top results from your short staffed team

You know what it’s like when you are short-staffed. Everyone is running around trying to meet their deadlines but getting stressed and frazzled about it. 

You might find your company is below strength for just a few days due to sickness or holidays. Or longer term, you may have been unable to replace staff members that have moved on, or perhaps you’re experiencing an increase in business that you haven’t yet been able to staff up for.

Whatever the reason, you need to get the best out of your short-staffed team so that you can continue to meet the expectations of your customers. 

Here are five ways you can achieve results from your short-staffed team. 

1. Communicate the business goals

When employees fully understand the aims of a company, they feel motivated to give their all. In contrast, someone who does not have an appreciation of how their role contributes to the overall goals of the business will often do the minimum or even “work to rule”.

The responsibility falls on you as the business owner to communicate your vision for the company and to translate that into achievable goals for each team or individual you employ.

In periods when you are only temporarily short-handed, emphasising that the load needs to be shared, and explaining what positive impact that additional effort will have, can prevent employees feeling put upon or resentful that more work is suddenly being expected of them. 

2. Prioritise the vital actions

When you have more work to be done than employees to do it, sometimes you need to work smarter, not harder. The key is to prioritise. It is a method used in Agile working and one that is extremely effective in accomplishing targets. 

Prioritisation inevitably means that some of the work will not get done, but in business, it’s easy to figure out what activities are the most pressing. You may find that you will have to balance urgency and importance, and most of the time you will learn that work involving customers must come first, but be sure to prioritise according to the business goals. A well-prioritised workload means you and your staff can be confident that you are only working on the most important next tasks and projects.

3. Reward additional effort

In times of business need, incentivisation and reward can be used to great effect to galvanise staff to the cause and encourage them to be more productive. 

The incentive can come in many forms. When you really need your short-staffed team to pull something out of the bag, sometimes the promise of simpler rewards may be enough: work through your lunch break for the next few days and you can have an afternoon off next week; or there’s pizza for everyone who stays late tonight, it is all dependent on what you know will motivate your employees.

4. Set small goals

Another way of motivating staff is to only concentrate on small goals. Then, instead of feeling overwhelmed by the big picture, and overburdened by the sheer amount of work that needs to be done, staff can feel accomplished each time smaller goals are met.

This method focuses the mind on the current goal, meaning that achieving small milestones and attainments can quickly boost and inspire the whole team.

Of course, the short-term objectives must be set up so that they support the longer-term corporate goals, and you need to frequently assess them too, to be sure that you’re on the right track.

5. Empower your staff

When you have a short-staffed team, it may seem illogical to countenance them being self-managing. But empowerment for decision-making, plus autonomy to manage their own roles, bring increased job satisfaction and makes employees far more motivated and determined.

You may want to devolve additional responsibility and authority to employees as part of an agile approach to working, as empowerment and agile methods do work hand in hand. Or, you could work together with your staff to agree on prioritised objectives and then set them free to undertake their tasks as they see fit.