Todays managers are entrusted with the responsibility of getting the most out of workers no matter what. But the reality is that many managers must coax top performances from employees while working on a minimal budget that may require a salary freeze; cuts in benefits, bonuses or perks; reduction in hours; or even layoffs. If youre faced with a less-than-optimal budget situation, follow these tips to minimise the damage and keep your team motivated.
A managers job is to make his or her employees look good and make their lives easy by providing everything possible to help them do their job well, says an expert, who manages both people and budgets as part of his job as a senior consultant and director of sales and marketing. This doesnt always take a lot of money to do — just a bit of extra attention.
Other experts say budgets shouldnt dictate how much a manager should work on motivating the team — motivation must be a constant priority. He says its important for managers to show that success depends on collective effort. If employees know their supervisors are working hard for them, theyll work hard for their supervisors, regardless of a bare-bones budget or other factors.
If a company starts to show signs of budget trouble — such as taking extra time to fix office equipment or changing that once-large holiday bonus to a gift card — morale can drop, and employees may begin to lose faith in the company. This is the biggest issue managers face when budgets are slashed, say experts.
However, a manager can play a key role in employees attitudes, says an expert in the field. If the managers internal dialogue is negative, the entire team is affected, she explains. Youll hear things like, I cant believe this! Why cant they pay a living wage? I have to work twice as hard now. But when the manager comes across with a positive attitude — for example, by saying, OK, how are we going to make this work without long hours? or How can we make this fun? — the results can be amazing, she adds.
Obert Mortimer, a media communications manager with BizHelp24.com, a business and finance resource for individuals and small businesses, recommends that managers consider these tips when dealing with budget cuts and the resulting morale issues:
• Talk to senior management about budget cuts. You may be able to escape your share if you put forward a convincing argument.
• Try to avoid wholesale changes. Ask senior management for structured reductions over time.
• Take some time to reassure remaining staff that their jobs are safe; explain the market issues that forced the cuts. Mutual understanding and a desire to get back to normal will rub off on your employees.
• Assign your top staff members the most important tasks; redeploy staff to new tasks if doing so would benefit the team.
• If the changes are not truly destructive, remember that good staff will adapt.
• Be consistently positive as you manage and lead.
Even if you cant provide monetary rewards, you can still reward, honour and motivate employees. Thanking your workers in front of the group, sending a thank-you email, giving workers the afternoon off or buying your staff lunch can go a long way in keeping workers happy.
Saying thank you is one of the most popular forms of recognition for employees. Showing you appreciate their efforts can go a long way toward inspiring them, an expert says.
With less money to throw around, you have to be an even better manager and find ways to reward your employees.