Wake up, smell the empty coffee pot

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Let’s face it, we are not going to get every resource we need or ask for, no matter how hard we try. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to be able to recognize your limitations regarding money and manpower in this time of economic uncertainty.

Having an effective and efficient decision-making approach or coping procedure is a crucial component to balancing and prioritizing the resources you already have. With all of the programs out there competing for resources, the odds are good your requests may not all be granted.

There will be difficult decisions to make when almost every resource requirement seems to be of top priority. In today’s tightening of budget purse strings, it pays to have planning strategies in mind when there are fewer alternatives to exercise. Leaders must make prudent resource allocation decisions that ultimately contribute to short-term mission accomplishments and long-term organizational well-being. You may need to ask yourself, “Are some of my units working disproportionately longer hours than others?” If this is indeed the case, you may also ask “Should I temporarily augment an overused unit with manpower from an underused unit?” This may be the most logical course of action to take when there is no relief in the immediate future.

Even if there is a plan for growth in manpower for a program, filling a new position could take several months or more. Exploring alternative strategies can give leaders ideas on how to maximize functioning on minimal resources. Having a method in mind to serve as a bridge until help arrives is always a good idea. Decisions may need to occur regarding which needs would be met and which will remain unfulfilled. This is never an easy call to make.

Another strategy to explore may be to determine how well certain alternatives can meet more than just one need. Is there a particular tool or piece of equipment that can serve multiple purposes? Are some individuals in your unit qualified in performing multiple critical skills? Stretching the mind and imagination may yield some vital and readily workable results.

There are many tools to tailor or combine to meet the specific needs of your organization, so keep an open mind and make pursuing efficiency the norm.

Remember to keep an eye on your most precious resource — your people. Lack of adequate staffing, funding and equipment needed to do the job provides fertile ground for burnout and frustration. Keeping them encouraged and inspired is more challenging than ever, but when they know your efforts are focused on improving the work environment, it will go a long way.

In earlier times, there seemed to be an endless supply of resources available despite the spending and utilization habits of our population, but those days are over. The time has come to tighten the reins, face the fact that our resources are finite and perpetual growth is not an option anymore —the well has run dry. It’s time to wake up and smell the empty coffee pot.