Managing employees in the best of economies is a tough task. People management becomes much more difficult during periods of furloughs, layoffs, and high unemployment rates. Leaders are tasked with increasing productivity even with a drastically reduced staff. These tips offer effective techniques for those practicing lean management.


Communicate Openly About Staffing Issues

Open lines of communication are key for every level of management. The need for transparency increases significantly during periods of layoffs. Human Resource personnel must delicately discuss employment options and break the news of mass layoffs with sensitivity and discretion. Remaining staff need to understand that the goal is not to continue cutting staff but to increase productivity in general. Allow room for questions and provide realistic expectations. Ensure staff understands their value and plans the company has for future expansion.


Share Corporate Goals

Lean management requires gaining the buy in and cooperation of all team members. Encourage employees to put their best efforts and attitudes into their daily tasks. Reward staff members who implement problem solving strategies. Motivate and empower employees to make executive decisions and take ownership. Encourage cross training efforts and be open to new ideas and out of the box thinking. Share some of the specific goals the company hopes to achieve by utilizing lean techniques.


Model Lean Strategies

Lean management strategies are especially effective when team members witness first hand the viable efforts of their leaders. Companies who embrace cuts from the top down are much more likely to gain the support of workers at all levels. Leaders who show initiative by working harder and getting by with less resources are modeling the behavior they want their staff members to exhibit. Leaders who search for inefficient methods and help streamline those processes will inspire staff to take the same initiatives.


There are many ways to introduce lean management techniques into any organization. The main keys are empowerment and consistency. Leaders must assure staff members that the goals of being lean are not to reduce the overall workforce. In fact, with effective lean techniques, the company will be able to grow and expand. Tightening the belt in the present typically leads to periods of dynamic growth in future years.