I hear the complaint all the time, “We need more people.” It is easy to convince yourself that you do not have enough people. The Great Resignation tended to thin out the population. Quiet Quitting has made the existing workforce much less efficient. Both of these issues are caused when leaders try to apply a “command and control” leadership style. In our current situation, that mentality leads many leaders to conclude that if we only had more people we would be better off.
You don’t need to more people; you need to change your leadership style
The irony is that you do not need more people; you need better leaders. If that sounds harsh, let me explain why I make that conclusion. I have witnessed productivity increases greater than 100% when leaders shift from command control to a trust and inspire philosophy. That is why I am so fond of Stephen M.R. Covey’s new book, Trust and Inspire.
Stephen makes the case that when leaders double down on command and control methods, people get turned off. Many of them either quit and leave or quit and stay. Either way, the engagement of the workforce is going to be inadequate. Leaders instinctively jump to the mindset that they need to hire more people.
By shifting the culture to one of greater psychological safety and extending more trust, people will rally to your cause. The empowerment will return, and you will find your current workforce can carry the load without difficulty.
It does not take years to accomplish more
The good news is that it does not take years to accomplish this shift. I have seen a doubling of productivity in roughly six months. Leaders must understand that it is them, not the workers, who need to change. Many companies are discovering the stubborn consistency of the theory. There is brilliant engagement and energy sitting right in front of you. As a leader, your job is to unleash that untapped potential.
Leaders are stuck in a rut
Unfortunately, most leaders believe that with workers in a hybrid situation at best they need to keep closer track of activities. That attitude sows the seeds of their own demise. The mindset does not produce what leaders want, so they double down on the pressure and make things even worse. I see this happening in numerous organizations.
Change your style
I see some groups that are smart enough to change their style and unleash the workers thriving. Not only are the resources adequate, but when they do have an opening, the best workers line up to apply. Hiring that is so problematical for command and control groups is a breeze for trust and inspire groups.
You do not need to continue in the downward spiral with resources. Get a good coach and change the way you lead. You will find that life is kinder to you. It is possible to thrive in these times, but not if you refuse to change.
Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations