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Get more done for less

Just as we go through the emotional cycles of anger, denial, bargaining and acceptance when our loved ones have brain disorders, employees go through these same emotions when they are asked to make significant changes or have stressful work environments. Think about the effects of layoffs, reorganizations, new processes and new applications.

These sources of stress can cause people to resist making the required changes. Stress also affects employees' daily work, customer loyalty and your earnings. Our attitudes and beliefs affect our behavior. Why does this stress occur and what can be done about it?

There are two major sources of work stress today. Business leaders are pressed to "Do More for Less for More" (M4L4M) in this age of scarcity. It is hard to disagree that businesses must get more done with less these days, and to some extent, grow the business with what they have. Business leaders need to get very creative about becoming more efficient, and in spite of productivity tools and improved processes, they are still very dependent on not only keeping the good people, but helping them to "Do More for Less for More" as well.

The second source of stress is a bit more disturbing. Workers have become disenchanted rather than engaged and energized in their jobs. Apparently, this has been going on for far longer than the past 18 months.

In early January, CBS News reported on The Conference Board's survey findings on work satisfaction. In a nutshell:

  • Only 45 percent of Americans are satisfied with their work -- the lowest level recorded in 22 years of this survey.
  • Only 51 percent of people find their jobs interesting
  • Of the under 25's, 64 percent of workers say they're unhappy at work.

Worker dissatisfaction and stress have been on the rise for more than two decades. Dissatisfied workers can affect productivity and could lead to very costly turnover issues for businesses.
Right Management, an HR Consultancy, conducted a survey last year and found that people leave for many reasons, including:

  • Ineffective leadership (25 percent);
  • Poor relationship with manager (22 percent);
  • Contributions to the company were not valued (21 percent);

How does a business leader get more done with the people they have if the people feel this way? Are leadership and management even aware of these feelings? Do they know why their people feel this way? Do they know how to take action, and are they effective? If not, wouldn't this cause more stress?

How can you minimize this stress?

So, how do you get more done for less? Several suggestions come to mind.

Prioritize what you do and focus on only the critical and urgent. Communicate your revised priorities in ways that are effective for the employees.

Get the waste out of your processes, to improve quality and customer satisfaction. Involve your employees, not only to get their ownership; they know where the problems are.

Become better at leading and managing change. Leaders must be consistently visible and passionate about their change, while being good listeners. Change managers discover the resistance and mitigate it.

If you perform customer satisfaction surveys and employee opinion surveys, make sure you take actions to improve the source of the stress. This begs the point that you determine the source of stress is before you try to fix it.

If you are committed to discovering how employees think and communicate, and to taking actions to improve employee and customer loyalty and productivity, your employees will feel better about their ability to "Do More for Less for More."

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Bob Dodge

Bob Dodge is senior partner of The Alternative Board - Denver West. He helps organizations improve customer loyalty and employee engagement, coaches leaders in leading changes, consults with organizations to manage changes and is a popular speaker and writer. He can be contacted at 303-550-0101 or bdodge@TABDenverwest.com. His website is www.TABDenverwest.com  




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