The title of this blog may appear to be just another reason to complain, but it is written to covey the current circumstance most people find themselves facing on a daily basis. Today, I want to share a Manager X Nugget designed to spark discussion on creative and innovative ways we can tackle our challenges amidst shrinking and scarce resources.

Over the past several years, executives, managers, and employees have faced a challenging economy, growing regulations, shrinking budgets, turbulent markets, and an over worked and understaffed workforce.

Several months ago, my Manager Exchange group spent a meeting discussing this issue and brainstorming constructive ways to deal with it. The topic was timely as everyone was feeling the tension of managing with fewer resources in an increasingly challenging workplace due to growth, mergers, acquisitions, or regular employee turnover. I will share some of their solutions over a series of blogs. While some of the ideas may not be original to you, they may be timely reminders.

I’d like to share one idea that especially resonated with me. The idea is to identify a promising and motivated employee and talk to them about a quasi-promotion. It is an opportunity to step up and demonstrate their abilities while building their resume. It takes a special kind of employee who is willing to go the extra mile even though they knowingly will not realize the full or immediate benefit of their extra work. Not everyone will participate:

Joe was a seasoned professional who was a dedicated, long-term employee. He found a lower level position in the new organization, but maintained his previous salary. The position was transitional, designed to assist with the merger. He began work with the hope he would become permanent at his previous level. His real issue arose when he decided not to take any additional responsibility until his permanent status was restored opting to fill his 8-hour workday with mundane and timeless tasks. He never received the permanent offer because he wasn’t willing to step up unless the company first acquiesced to his demands. Ultimately, he transferred to another division to find that permanent job, but was stuck at the lower level until he was eventually laid off.

Here are some things to consider:

  1. Start with your goals and objectives. If you are a manager, your goals and objectives should require the participation of your team. If they aren’t that big, you need to think bigger. Identify an issue you could use help tackling.
  2. Consider your team and identify someone who is competent, shows promise, and is motivated. Share your idea with them and gauge their interest. If it’s met with resistance, or an attitude that the company owes them something, move on. I experienced this type of person during one of the mergers I endured.
  3. Discuss the quasi-promotion idea with the person you believe will appreciate this opportunity. Take time to have a comprehensive discussion about what they see themselves doing and brainstorm ways to make it happen. This may involve reshuffling some existing work to a person better positioned to perform it, considering process improvements, or identifying some slow time each month to allocate some time for a project. The key is to engage your employee and discover their hopes, dreams, and ideas.
  4. Be clear on the expectations and goals. Avoid the temptation of over promising or paint unrealistic pictures. Help them see how this might personally benefit by claiming an accomplishment while helping the team.
  5. Once the plan is set, offer to work with them as a resource to assure their success in their new quasi position.

We all want to identify great employees and sometimes we just need to give them a chance to shine. Not everyone is interested in shining. Some people just need a little polish. Invest in your team and you will see the benefits.

Have you participated in a quasi-promotion? What are some lessons or benefits you realized?

Issues Galore and Scarce Resources
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