When organizations want to justify budget cuts, workforce reductions, or a freeze on hiring, they often use the shopworn sentence “Well, we’re going to have to do more with less.”
At which point, in any organization, be it a nonprofit, a corporation, a small business, or even a church, the remaining employees, volunteers or members may feel as though they have one of two choices:
Stay and do more with less.
The fear and desperation that builds in these situations, serves to highlight, exacerbate or create, conflict scenarios. This is the exact opposite of what happens when an organization is doing “more with more” and everything is papered over “because everybody is getting ‘rich’,” or at the least, doing well.
Personal and professional reactions replace responses and when there is an environment of “doing more with less,” the set-up is perfect for conflicts, stress and disruption.
Compare this to something—a project, an idea, an organization—that is starting out. Much of the time at the beginning, the mantra “doing more with less” is really “doing more, creatively with what we have.” This is a much easier sell to employees, volunteers and members in the start-up stage than it is at any point in the life cycle of an organization, because starting is sexy and exciting.
But going through the middle with no more than what you started with–or less than that–can be disheartening, disempowering and disenchanting.
What’s the solution?
- Abandon the “doing more with less” management mantra. Instead, switch to the truth. Whatever that may be about people, money, or other resources. This allows for creativity in the face of reality, rather than fear based responses.
- Remember that fear, withdrawal and “hunkering down to weather it out” doesn’t engender confidence, creativity or faith in the organization, the mission, the values or the goals. Instead, erosion from the outside and corrosion from the inside will begin to destroy the organizational fabric.
- Empower the people that care. These are not typically shareholders, external stakeholders or other individuals watching from the sidelines in the Coliseum, clapping, booing or calling for blood. The people who care are the people who have been in an organization since the beginning. They deserve to have their faith and hard work rewarded.
No one enjoys the fear, anger, frustration and resentment that can develop when having to do “more with less,” whether in a family, or a corporation.
But how we respond to the bad news of events that are out of our control, contributes more to the overall long-term viability of an organization, than doing the same thing that’s always been done, by everybody else.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: email@example.com