Dealing with short staffed situations

As a small business owner, you’re painfully aware whenever your firm is short on staff: you answer fewer calls, deliver fewer goods and perhaps even lose customers. Nevertheless, people get sick, life happens and we have to be prepared to rise to the occasion.

With that in mind, read on to find our tips for leading your team when it’s short staffed.

1. Set priorities

Setting priorities means focusing on the most critical tasks. First, complete the activities that benefit customers and keep the lights on. When you’re done with those, move to lower priority items. However, be aware of what you’re sacrificing when setting priorities because some work will have to go undone, usually housekeeping and administrative items. Consider working steadily at an even pace to ensure that work doesn’t pile up endlessly.

2. Communicate

Dealing effectively with short staffing situations means boosting communication between your team members and encouraging everyone to ask for help if they need it. In fact, it may be poor communication that sinks your team, not the higher workload.

With strong communication, your team can identify challenges before they snowball and become unmanageable. And by communicating proactively, they can assign tasks ahead of time before everyone’s to-do lists become choked with activities.

Communication also helps your team avoid those situations where people decide to buckle down to dig into the extra work. This may well lead to disaster as people become overwhelmed, but do not communicate about it.

3. Maintain morale

Make sure to also create continuous small wins to whet your team’s appetite and keep them moving through tough times.

This can help prevent your team from becoming overwhelmed and panicking. Deep breaths should be your first line of defence against stress, while laughter is your healthy, natural energy drink. So make some time and room to share a friendly joke with your team members to bust stress.

4. Avoid burnout

You and your team can sustain a heavy workload only if they get time to recharge and adequate rest. Resist the temptation to work through lunch breaks and coming in too early. You’ll find your productivity actually increases if you’re fresh rather than worn out. If you feel guilty or anxious taking a bit of time to recover, think of rest as part of your job.

Let us know how you lead in tough times. Comment below or tweet us @TheShepherdGroup