Answering Tough Questions...# 10

Question:  Areas that achieve success seem to be continually asked to “do more with less,” while areas that do not achieve success seem to be given an inequitable amount of incremental resources (labor, operating dollars).  Shouldn’t the successful areas be given more in order to achieve even greater success?


I will start by saying that from where we sit, sometimes we do not have a full view of what is going on in another area . . . or what the long-term plan is.  So we come to the conclusion that they are overstaffed . . . or that they get too much funding     . . . and that they don’t produce, like we do.


I actually agree with you and think that sometimes that is correct, and that some areas were getting overfunded or overstaffed at my time at Hilton, Marriott and Disney.  I know of some areas where I thought some reductions should be made.  Of course, they are not in my area of responsibility, which is the way it usually is. We all usually think we are doing everything right and others are not.


I bet there are people out there who also thought that some of my areas of responsibility were overstaffed or were not held to the same level of productivity as they were and they have been right.


The best advice I have for dealing with this is to focus on what you believe you need in your area to produce better customer service or operating income.  Put your proposal together and take your time doing it, and then make an appointment with your leader and present it showing how by adding labor resources . . . or expense dollars . . . or capital dollars for that matter . . . you will be able to improve results.


If you are going to make a point about improving customer satisfaction of employee satisfaction results, first be clear whether you want to do that or not and whether it is worth it.  If your leader believes that customer satisfactionresults or employee satisfaction scores are satisfactory, then you will not win the battle.


If you have some thoughts on how to improve operating income and if you can present it in a way to get the “powers-to-be” to agree with you, then you might have a good shot at getting some funding approved if your analysis is correct.  You may want to involve your Finance Manager, Industrial Engineers, or Directors/General Managers for your  business early on as they might have some vital information to show you as to why this is not good for the organization as a whole . . . or they might think it is brilliant, and then they will assist you in making your case.


We are in times where every expense dollar is being questioned in every organization. We are in times where extra resources are scarce, and we need to allocate them to the areas that can bring the most value for dollars invested.


If you believe that you know an area that is not being as productive as it should be from your point of view, then write it up and send it over to your leader to have it reviewed. Remember that you are paid a large part of your salary for your opinion. If your leader is not interested in your opinion then I would start looking for another leader or another organization.


This was another good question.  I hope that you all are enjoying these weekly questions and answers. By the way, if any of you think my answers are nonsense and that you have a better answer, then send it to me.   . . . Lee

  1. It’s always good to hear from the other side of the coin and most times if you have the information to back up your claims level heads will prevail. .

  2. Great post. I am the senior executive in charge of quality and continuous improvement for an American company. The challenge of getting enough resources to do what I believe is necessary is a difficult one especially when I do not have line responsibilities (sales or production) that directly tie to the company’s income. I really like Lee’s suggestions of how to make the best case and present it so I have a good chance of success. These are the kinds of real issues that help me. Thank you.

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