The phrase “lean and mean” usually brings with it a positive connotation, especially in the case of physical fitness. However, it can also be used when describing the economic health of a company or organization.
“Running lean” is often something to which owners and managers aspire . . . but only if doing so leads to greater levels of productivity and profitability. However, that is NOT always the case. It’s definitely possible to run too lean with your staff, and when you do, problems invariably arise.
Those problems are explored in a recent LinkedIn article by HelloSign CEO Joseph Walla titled, “The Unexpected Downsides to Running a Lean Team.” Walla lists seven items in his article, but we’re only going to directly address four of those. Below are the top four drawbacks to running too lean with your staff:
#4—No margin for error
There’s no end to the curveballs that life throws at you. Employees get sick, they get injured, or they can’t work for a variety of other reasons. When reaching your goals depends upon all of your employees working at maximum capacity for a maximum number of days with absolutely no flexibility allowed, then you’re asking for trouble.
#3—Low levels of morale
When you’re running lean, that means your employees are stretched thin. That might work for a few weeks or even months (if you’re lucky), but eventually that’s going to catch up with you. Your employees will be at risk for burning out, which increases the chances they’ll leave for another employment opportunity. That’s problematic for many reasons, including the fact there’s no margin for error.
When you’re so focused “working in” your business, there’s little time to “work on” your business, and that problem is exacerbated when you’re running lean. Meeting deadlines and finishing immediate projects becomes the top priority, instead of constructing and executing plans for far-reaching growth. Which brings us to the #1 item on our list . . .
It doesn’t even have to be slow growth. It could be “slower than usual” growth, which is nearly as bad. Sure, running lean helps to keep costs at a minimum, but it could help to keep growth at a minimum, as well. You’ve surely heard the phrase “Stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime.” That phrase could certainly apply to this situation.
Click here to read Walla’s article in its entirety on LinkedIn and see what other drawbacks he included.
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