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Whether or not the economy lapses into a recession in 2023, wise leaders are preparing their workforce for the possibility. And they’re doing it right now. Why? Because the news is full of “prepare for a recession” news, based on the Fed’s recent and projected rate hikes. 

But whether or not you believe a recession is imminent, training workers for economic contractions is a win-win proposition.

It gives them the skills they need to operate at peak performance and absorb growth in a good economy, and it prepares companies to do more with less during an economic downturn.

 

“Do More With Less” Is Not a Plan

Illustration of three people at meeting

When the time comes to stop hiring or to lay off workers, you may be tempted to tell your remaining employees, “We will just need to do more with less.” But wishing it doesn’t make it so. You need to equip your workers with the skills they need to work in a more efficient manner, and get more done in less time. Without new skills, the same skills will produce the same results. 

Most likely, your team members are already putting their all into their jobs. (Or if they are quiet quitting by doing the bare minimum to get by, it’s for a reason that may have to do with your company culture.)

Either way, if you want your teams to “do more with less,” you’ll need to teach them to implement a workflow management system that enables workers to accomplish more with fewer resources in the same amount of time. And you’ll need to do it without adding to the stress they likely feel when they are asked to take on even more.

The world-renowned management expert Peter F. Drucker once said, “The most important contribution management needs to make in the 21st century is…to increase the productivity of knowledge work and knowledge workers…The most valuable asset of a 21st-century institution (whether business or non-business) will be its knowledge workers and their productivity.” It follows that ensuring your knowledge workers have the skills to work at peak productivity is a sound investment in your business, whether a recession is right around the corner or not.

What Is a Workflow Management System?

A workflow management system is a methodology that allows knowledge workers to manage their work in the most efficient way possible. Such a system is not an app or software. Instead, it is a collection of habits and behaviors.

A modern workflow management system is built for our digital age. In other words, it takes into account the constant distractions a modern worker experiences throughout the day, and it empowers them to protect their attention so that they can focus on achieving their most significant results. 

A comprehensive workflow management system also considers the company culture, and empowers leaders to foster a work environment (whether remote, in-office, or hybrid) that supports the behaviors of the workflow management system and sets the stage for employees to operate at peak productivity.

Here’s the good news: When an entire team or company is trained to use the same workflow management system, efficiency can skyrocket. And in the end, the company as a whole actually can “run lean” because each individual worker has trained for it.

 

So Is Your Team Ready to “Run Lean”?

Do you want to know if your company is ready to “run lean” and “do more with less” without burning out your employees? Then evaluate whether your team members have the following skill sets:

Attention Management

Do you and your team members have the skills and systems to resist distractions so they can focus on achieving their most significant results? Do you end your days feeling like you were busy but not productive? Reactive but not proactive? Learning attention management skills will put you and your team members back in the driver’s seat of your work and your lives.

 

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Action Management 

Do your team members keep their tasks and commitments in a variety of locations: to-do lists, sticky notes, calendars, notes apps? If so, this isn’t efficient. Learning a task management process that holistically addresses all the various aspects of your personal and professional lives will save everyone time, greatly reduce stress, and decrease the opportunity for details to get lost in the shuffle. When a whole team or company uses the same process to organize the details of their work, the result is an exponential increase in efficiency and productivity.

 

Communication Management

Do members of your team check email the first thing in the morning? Do they feel they need to respond to messages right away? Do leaders have a communication policy in place that explicitly defines what types of messages should use which communication channels at what times? A good workflow management system offers clearly-defined personal and communication practices that help team members regain valuable time back into their days.

 

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Burnout Management

Are your workers feeling stressed or disengaged? Do they lack energy, physically or emotionally? One of the biggest threats to knowledge worker productivity is burnout. Once your workers start to burn out, it’s harder (and much more expensive!) to get them back on track. Instead, an effective workflow management system proactively prevents burnout by teaching work-life balance skills, alerting team members to the signs of burnout, and helping leadership implement the most effective policies to support work-life balance.

 

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Behavior Change Management

Do your employees have unproductive work habits that they just can’t seem to shake? Do they multitask during meetings? Or frequently check social media during the day? They likely know that these are unproductive habits, but they might need help shifting to healthier habits that will allow them to do their best work throughout the day. Behavior change management is essential for getting a new workflow management system to stick.

 

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Culture Change Management

Do you have an “always-on” work culture? Do leaders talk about “work-life balance,” but then email employees over the weekend? The biggest obstacle to empowering productivity is a company culture that is full of distractions, one in which everyone is reacting to the latest emergency rather than thoughtfully focusing on doing their most important work. To be effective, a workflow management system needs to offer strategies for transforming the culture into one that supports new, more productive behaviors.

 

The Empowered Productivity™ System

 

Over the past two decades, I have trained tens of thousands of leaders and team members at all levels of an organization on the workflow management system I’ve spent decades creating and testing. It’s called the Empowered Productivity System. As I work with leaders across the globe to help their teams “do more with less,” my team and I are constantly refining this system. Today, Empowered Productivity is performing better than ever, helping leaders and team members deliver their best results with far less stress.

This is possible because Empowered Productivity is a comprehensive system of habits and behaviors. When workers can rely on a system to manage their work, far fewer decisions are necessary about how to manage their work every day. Instead, they can focus their energy and attention on actually doing the creative or strategic work you hired them for in the first place.

If you’re interested in Empowered Productivity training for your team, please reach out to me here. I look forward to speaking with you about how to get your team operating at peak productivity right now, so you’re always ready to do more with less during a recession.

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