"If your team feels short-staffed and that feeling persists, you're going to have a morale problem and people are going to burn out. Communication is the key, and I want a role model for you what your team needs to hear from you. Now, I want you to envision yourself in a team meeting, saying something like this:
'You all know we have two open positions and that's putting more stress on everyone. I get it and we're going to fix it. We're not going to fix it overnight. We're not going to fix it by hiring two more people. Now, let me be clear.
We are going to backfill these openings, and that remains a top priority of mine. But we have to rethink how we work as a team and as individuals because chances are we're always going to have open positions and people on leave, and that's a good thing. We want people to pursue opportunities internally and we know people are going to move on and we want people to take the needed time off. I'm not asking us to work harder. I'm asking this core team to accomplish more.
To do that we have to commit as a team to working smarter, and that begins with eliminating waste. That's how I think of it. We're going to start by cutting every meeting in half. I also want to eliminate one meeting a month, and each time we talk, I want to address time-wasters. What I think of as time-wasters.
Now, what am I talking about? We waste time waiting on decisions, and we waste time making decisions. You need to hold me accountable for timely decisions, and I'm going to do a better job of managing-up so that we get more timely decisions from above and we all have to do a better job of setting priorities. I'm as guilty as anyone. Sometimes we focus on non-essential priorities, but we don't have that luxury anymore.
I'm never going to hold you accountable for something outside your control, but the work we choose to focus on is our choice. It's within our control. Now let's focus on time-wasters. The answer isn't adding hours to the day. That's not a solution that works for me or any of you.
But if we focus on time-wasters, if we attack them like an enemy, we'll be working smarter and we'll be able to get more done.'
Okay, end of role play. I started with context. I empathized. I stated the reason upfront. I took ownership.
I clarified our priorities and offered a specific place to start, and I ended by reinforcing the reason. Now you can go around the room and ask people to think about time-wasters or you can then ask them to think about them and be prepared to address them in your next one on one. Whatever the case, make time-wasters an ongoing topic of conversation and treat them as the enemy. Keep track of the time-wasters you've dealt with and focus on the progress you're making. Reward and recognize people for eliminating waste and they'll feel more productive. They'll feel more in control and they'll feel less stressed.