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Serving or SurvivingMany mid-sized and smaller organizations are understaffed which causes them to lose good talent, decreased productivity, and lowers their ability to scale upward for mission growth. Most are not serving or advancing because of this cycle. Big businesses are suffering from this as well post-pandemic. Difficult times and challenges like understaffing can quickly change the mindset in an organization from serving to surviving.

In a couple of my leadership roles, I’ve found myself pulled between expectations and priorities from superiors, without enough staff to perform adequately. Many factors contributed to why the team was understaffed, including recent departures that remained unfilled, reorganization, and the demand for work growth before the team size could catch up.

Being understaffed complicates many situations, no matter the reason. It should be effectively managed as it could create an environment of burnout, and ultimately, resentment toward the leadership and organization. Additional stress is added when the team is tasked with endless projects that become overwhelming. The team needs to be expanded or work projects should be reassessed. At all costs, leaders and organizations should avoid operating with minimal staffing. It is not beneficial to anyone and certainly does not further the organization’s mission.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23-24

Common solutions to staffing shortages include redistribution of work, hiring replacement staff, and outsourcing lower-level tasks. Here are some additional sustainable strategies for managing understaffing:

  1. Outline everyone’s focus and how to execute successfully by clearly defining and cross-training standard operating procedures (SOPs)
  2. Identify, clarify, and prioritize the most important projects. Then align them with team members’ strength(s)
  3. Consistently review long-term goals
  4. Rethink, reprioritize, and reorganize calendars
  5. Execute critical mission objectives first
  6. Prioritize core clients’ needs with explanation
  7. Schedule regular workforce planning meetings for updates and progress

There is much to be gained through disclosure, honesty, and proactive communication. Talk openly with your team about the staffing situation, strategies, and projected timelines for remediation. Discuss employees’ needs and potential barriers. Honest and transparent communication will open the door for interactive behavior which benefits all parties involved.

While remediation strategies are put in motion, identify inefficiencies and better ways of working that can be easily corrected or mastered to improve workflow and daily work habits. Investing in the improvement process may be more expensive, however, in the long run, continuous improvement is usually worth the cost.

A balanced lifestyle is just as important for employees and the company. Employers should set an example for employees by expressing the value of rest and revitalizing themselves for better performance. Again, everyone benefits when employees are energized and focused.

Express your affirmation and confidence in the team. Showing your team that you believe in them and have confidence that they will succeed builds their confidence and resourcefulness. Team empowerment through leadership stimulation and verbal acknowledgment, brings about a stronger workforce, even in less-than-optimal conditions.

Leadership isn’t always easy and leading an organization through difficult times is part of the job. FaithSearch Partners excels at finding and securing leaders that understand these qualities and will work to build up your workforce through faith, especially when the company faces difficulties.

FaithSearch consultants bring more than 130 years of cumulative experience in faith-based executive search. If you’re looking for differential leaders throughout your organization that can have a positive impact on your people and community, FaithSearch excels in securing leaders for nonprofit, higher education, healthcare organizations, and faith-driven corporations.

Contact the FaithSearch team today for more information.

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Zándra Bishop

Author Zándra Bishop

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