Getting More From Fewer People – 5 Things Companies Should Be Doing NOW!

June 29, 2012 by  Filed under: Management 

Let’s face it, the US economy is still struggling. Some of this is due to politics, some of it is due to other nations having their own economic problems and, because we live in a world that is now interdependent, the US is affected, and some is due to how Corporate America itself is afraid. I have never seen business executives so scared to make decisions as I have over the last few years. Because of this, millions of people have been displaced from their jobs. Businesses have put a freeze on spending, hiring, consulting, and any new projects. With what objective in mind? To preserve the bottom-line. Is this strategy successful? Not in most cases. In fact, what usually happens is that employees are demotivated and start creating their own “job security” by slowing down, on-going training and development comes to a standstill, outside experts are no longer consulted, and projects that are necessary to reach corporate goals are delayed or scrubbed completely. And, the bottom-line still suffers. Companies become like scared animals. This makes them easy prey for their smart competitors. They forget that, in order to come out of tough times ahead of their competition, they must create a strategy for taking advantage of opportunities during poor economic times and then execute that strategy with pinpoint precision so that they position themselves to take advantage of opportunities that their competition will miss out on. This is especially true of their most expensive and most valuable asset… their people.

There are five ways to get more from the people that you currently have on staff, any new people you may to hire, and even from those employees you may still have to down-size. Let’s take a brief look at each of these five areas to understand how companies can increase their profits and readiness to compete on a global scale, not just survive a down-cycle, and come out a winner.

NUMBER ONE: Get more from your Management Team.

Your management team has a huge impact on your company’s performance at any time, but during economic hardships, not only do they need to perform well, they have to perform well. So, how can you get more from them so that you can cascade a high level of performance throughout your organization? You need to have a way to quantify their competencies. Would you agree that they need to communicate well? Provide strong leadership? Improve themselves and their Direct Reports? Can be adaptable to change? Maintain good relationships? Be cohesive as a team? Absolutely! So, to get more from your management team, now is the time to get a better assessment of the people on that team, highlight their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Your company’s profitability and productivity will improve through top-notch managers and leaders.

NUMBER TWO: Get more from fewer employees.

Employees who are de-motivated by seeing their peers down-sized may create their own “job-security” through lowered production. Even worse, those that have options, your top performers, will look to use their talents and skills with a company that may offer more of what they want in an employer, such as feeling they actually contribute to the company, that they are valued, or that they get a chance to belong. To meet the this challenge, what would it mean to know each employee’s productivity style, their ability to work within a team, their natural quality of work, the degree of initiative they will take, and their ability to solve problems? Further, would it help to get a grasp of what behaviors to expect to see when they are under continued stress, frustration, & conflict? Or, with money being a poor motivator anyway, can you envision knowing how and what motivates your people to perform at their top-level day-in-&-day-out? Finally, what would it be worth to you to know how engaged your employees are mentally, emotionally, physically, and from a values standpoint?

NUMBER THREE: Don’t have any “square pegs in round holes”.

Interestingly, back in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks and the economy nose-diving at that time, companies who had benchmarked the shared characteristics of their top-performers in the positions within their company saw a phenomenon. The people that most closely fit the job they were doing were the first to return to work and were the quickest to get back up to full productivity. With a huge amount of human capital available in the market today, companies have the opportunity to not only be an “Employer of Choice”, but to be a choosey employer. Make sure that the people you have are in the right job. Re-engineer the job to better fit their competencies or reallocate them to where they can be better performers. For those that don’t fit your company culture, it’s time to ask them to find a company that they do fit and bring someone else in to fill their place. You can still get some valuable information from these people, though. By conducting exit interviews and using assessments to match them against the benchmark of your top-performers, you can identify traits they lacked. This will improve your future hiring process and prepare your company for growth.

NUMBER FOUR: Hire people that will make you a profit every day.

Be opportunistic with your ability to be choosey. If you need to hire someone, interview as many candidates as possible in order to select the best available. Your company not only deserves the best, you must require it. The economy is cycling back up again and this gives you the opportunity to be more selective. Hire people that will be honest, hardworking, reliable, and drug-free. Hire people that are like your top-performers. If you do, as the economy turns around, you will need to hire less people to do the same jobs, which means having an enormous edge on your competition. Harland Checks, the second largest check manufacturer in the U.S., was able to reduce their workforce by 30% while keeping at or above their previous production rates using this method. This contributed substantially to their bottom-line.

NUMBER FIVE: Rev-up the engine of your business – your Sales Department.

Never before has it been so important that the sales people you have be able to sell well. Not just sell well, but, sell your product well! Ever heard of the 80-20 Rule? Statistics show that 55% of all sales people shouldn’t be in sales, 25% shouldn’t be selling your product. That leaves 20% that should be selling your product, that’s why they are your top-performers! Studies show that salespeople share 5 key qualities, Competitiveness, Self-reliance, Persistence, Energy, and Sales Drive and 7 critical sales behaviors, Prospecting, Closing Sales, Call Reluctance, Self-starting, Teamwork, Building and Maintaining Relationships, and Compensation Preference.

How do your salespeople compare? Do they have these qualities and behaviors? And, how different are your top salespeople versus your bottom performers?

These are but a few steps that can be taken to assure, not just the survival, but to position your company to be a top competitor as the economic climate changes for growth.

Dr. Lewellen, at Transformative Thinking, has over 20 years of expanding the potential of corporations, religious organizations, not-for-profits, families and individuals. He is an expert in organizational alignment and motivation, organization and personal goal-setting, change management, and leadership. He is an expert in organizational alignment and motivation, organization and personal goal-setting, change management, leadership and staff development, and sales management. Contact Dr. Lewellen at or

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