Resources are tough to come by. By using a simple, logical approach, you can get your stakeholders to cough up those additional resources you need. If they’re not willing to do so, at least they’ll understand why you can’t get everything they want done.
One of your greatest responsibilities as the leader of a high-performing team is making sure your people have the resources they need to execute against all the projects and initiatives you’ve put on the prioritization list. I’d like to offer you some techniques for getting those resources because resources are scarce. Just because you ask doesn’t mean people are going to give you more cash, more people, or more time.
You have to make a clear and compelling business case to get those resources allocated to you versus them being allocated to other parts of the organization. Just asking isn’t a viable strategy. First, take the list of your priorities with initiatives laid out from highest to lowest priority. Add to that list the “business-as-usual resources” you need to run the engine every single day and perform the tasks that are required of your team operationally.
Once you have that list, you’re ready to go to your stakeholders and ask for resources. It could be your boss. It could be a steering committee. It could be a monthly prioritization meeting. You’re going to go in and say, “Here’s the list of initiatives. Do you agree that this is the priority that we should pursue these in?” You want to get that explicit agreement from those stakeholders that “Yes, we want you to do this one first, and then this one, and then this one.” You also want their agreement that the business-as-usual work is work that they demand you do.
After they’ve signed off on the prioritization list, go back and assess what each of those projects is going to take to complete in terms of people, dollars, time, and access to leadership. Lay out the resource case to achieve each of those initiatives and make sure they’re properly resourced.
Next, go back to those stakeholders and work down from the top of that list until you run out of existing resources. Be able to show them, “I have a team of this many people. If I start at the top of the list, I can get to the fifth initiative. After that, I’m out of people.” Then it’s up to that stakeholder. They’re always going to say, “No, I want you to do more.”
This is the point at which you’ve got them right where you want them. Simply say, “That’s great. I’m happy to do more, but I can’t do more unless you give me additional resources. If you do, here’s what those resources will buy you.” Allow me to offer an example of when I personally used this approach for making a case for resources.
I had a great team. They were extremely high-performing. They got more stuff done than you would ever believe was possible from a team that was that small. We wanted to do more, but we needed more resources to do so. I went to my boss and I said, “Here’s the base level stuff you want us doing on a regular basis. This is business as usual. Do you agree that these tasks are important and that we should continue pursuing them?” He said, “Absolutely, that’s the bread and butter of what we do. That’s what I want your team to deliver on.”
I said “That’s great. Here are the resources it takes on a regular basis to deliver on those business-as-usual commitments.” I laid out the cash required, the technology required, and the people required to deliver on those tasks. I said “Does that make sense?”
He said, “Yes. I can see exactly why you need that many resources to deliver on those tasks.”
Next, I went to the prioritization list, and said “Here’s the list of initiatives that we’re pursuing, and here’s the priority of them from most important to least important. Do you agree, Boss, that this is the list of things that we should be doing to achieve the vision and mission of our team?”
Again he said, “Yes, that’s the right set of priorities. I want that project done, and then that one, and that one.”
I was able to then say, “That’s great. For each of those projects here are the resource requirements. Here’s how much money I need. Here’s how many technology hours I need, and here’s how many people I need to complete those initiatives. Does that make sense?”
He said “Yeah, I understand why you would make a case for each of those initiatives requiring that many people.”
This is where I closed the deal.
I drew a line on the prioritization list and said “Hey, Boss, here’s how many resources I have and I can get this deep on the initiative list. The last time we talked, you wanted me to do another three or four projects. I would be really excited to do those projects, but with the resources I have, I have to do the business-as-usual stuff and you want me to do these top few projects. So for me to get deeper on that initiative list, here’s my ask – I’m happy to do it, but I need this much money, this many people, and here’s when I need it.”
Did I get all the resources I asked for? No, but I got some of them, and we were able to pursue a few additional initiatives.
He also understood why he couldn’t hold me accountable for doing even more unless he gave me those additional resources. So as you think about gathering resources for your high-performing team, I encourage you to try that technique of laying out the day-to-day operations, the prioritization list, and then get agreement from your stakeholder that that’s what you should be working on. Then explain to them what it’s going to take to achieve those things.
If they really want you to tackle those initiatives, they’re going to give you the resources or they’re going to make that tradeoff and say “You know what? I’m not going to give you additional resources, but I understand here’s what I’m giving up by not doing so.” Laying out that resource plan is the lynchpin to making sure that your team is properly resourced to execute against the initiatives that you’ve been given.
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