“We the willing, led by the unqualified are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We accomplished so much for so long and so little that we are capable of doing anything with nothing.”
I first heard the above sentiment decades ago. An older co-worker lamented how easy it would be to mop the floor if the boss would only buy a new mop head for the mop and detergent to add to the bucket. I found myself in the boss’s shoes not so long ago after taking over a nonprofit operation in it’s sixth year. My predecessor did a great job of finding funds to provide adequate technology to start operations. Like much technology, it had a useful life of four to six years. In my first year, everything started breaking. There were no plans or funds for replacements. I found myself buying lots of bubble gum, duct tape, and bailing twine to hold the place together. I developed a plan to replace technology and other high end resources on a staggered and regular basis.
In the movie “Battle of the Bulge” a junior officer presents a crumbly cake to his superior officer. He tells they officer the cake is evidence that Germany will lose the war. The senior officer protests. The junior remarks that if the allies have lift capacity to deliver baked goods to the front lines from their homes in America there is no way Germany can provide enough resources to fight them. Read any commander’s account of war. You will notice they rarely worry about whether or not their troops will be able to successfully close with and destroy the enemy. They worry about whether or not they can maintain open lines of communication and supply to continue the fight.
Ensuring people have necessary resources is a critical management function. Leaders learn early that when they ensure people have what they need to do a job, they will do it well with the right guidance. In those times resources are scarce, they will continue to work knowing that the leader is fighting to find and provide the necessary resources. Only when workers feel their leaders do not care enough provision their work will they quit. Good leaders provide the physical, human, intellectual, and financial resources necessary for the job. Identify and provide resources by analyzing the needs, obtaining the required resources, mange them appropriately, and ensure controls are followed.
Types of Resources
There are four broad categories of resources; places and things, people, skills and knowledge, and money. Physical resources are easy to understand. They include things. They are the buildings or land where the work is conducted, the tools required for the work, materials to create and manufacture, and the less tangible things like power, water, and internet. It is hard to take a picture without a camera. It is hard to write without paper and pencil or a word processor on a computer. Physical resources are all those things.
Most people know about human resources. That is the office where all the people gather that have nothing to do with the mission of the company. They are the people that bug you about the overdue evaluations and ride you when your payroll is late. If you really that think about your Human Resource department, give up your leadership position now. With the right people, doing the right jobs, the right way, your life as a leader is easy. HR ensures you have those people. They are supposed to be people experts. Their knowledge about labor law, health insurance and everything else is a bonus. Without people to follow you, you are not a leader even if you are the CEO. CEOs without people are called solopreneurs. If you want to be a leader, you must have people who want to follow you.
You might have great people and wonderful tools located in a state-of-the art facility. People without skills and knowledge have little value. Organizations should seek out qualified people. It is unlikely that most of the people hired will have all the skills and knowledge necessary to do their jobs. Most require additional training. An example is using databases. The concepts of databases are pretty universal. However NCATrak, Spillman, Catylist, Hubspot, and Spire are all databases that track stuff different ways. The interface for each is different. Workers require training to use them. I know some of you are thinking, “What happens if we spend a bunch of money on training and people leave?” The best answer to that worry is, “What happens if we do not train them and they stay?” Provide your followers with the skills and knowledge they need to do well.
Financial resources are an easy metric to track. Without money, your organization will not operate at its full potential. However, even the largest companies rarely have enough money to execute every idea that comes along. Using your available finances well determines the quality of outcomes. Spending money on the right things at the right time in the correct amount makes the difference between success and failure. The story at the beginning about things breaking at the same time is an example. Use your money well.
Planning resources is an important management skill. The first step in planning is analyze. Find the answers to questions like:
- What do we want to do?
- What materials are required to do it?
- Where are those resources available?
- What will they cost?
- How will we store them until needed?
- What skills and knowledge do we lack?
- Where can we find people with those skills and knowledge to either hire or train us?
- What tools do we need?
- How can we get them?
- How can we protect our resources to ensure they are available when needed?
Do not over analyze. Ask some simple questions and find the answers. Seek out others who have done the work before you. There is a post in this series on planning. You can find it here.
Obtain the resources required for the project. You do not need everything at once. Plan arrivals to reduce the cost of storage. Obtain it when you need it. Space is not free and drains your finances. Learn how to have what you need when you need it to reduce storage and handling.
Now that you have stuff, learn to manage it. In an earlier article, I discussed organizing. Part of that section deals with identifying processes for work. When we talk about managing resources, they are useless unless the people that need them have access to them at the right time. Figure out a process to make sure that happens.
Controls are simply the rules used to manage resources. Controls are another important management function that they are also covered in another post. Click here. Some controls are pretty straight forward like balancing accounts. Controls should be written and communicated so people know, understand, and follow them. Effectiveness is important. If a control is in place but it does not prevent the loss of a resource it is time to find and implement another control.
Managing resources is an important leadership skill. Leaders who fail to plan for resources set their teams up for failure. No matter how skilled, well trained, and motivated people are, without stuff there is little they can do to accomplish the mission of the organization. There are four types of resources and four steps leaders use so people have what they need when they need it to do their job. People need access to physical resources, other people, knowledge and skills, and money to accomplish work. Leaders plan for those resources by analyzing needs, obtaining stuff, and developing processes to manage and control resources. Resourcing is not necessarily the most glamorous part of leading. Without resources there is nothing to be done so there is no one to lead. Learn to provide appropriate resources and people will follow you.
BCcampus (ND) 11. Resource planning. Project Management. https://opentextbc.ca/projectmanagement/chapter/chapter-11-resource-planning-project-management/. Retrieved January 25, 2021
ProjectManager.com (2021) What is a resource plan? https://www.projectmanager.com/resource-management. Retrieved January 25, 2021
NCATrak, Spillman, Catylist, HubSpot, and Spire are all brands controlled by their owners. Inclusion does not serve as an endorsement.
(c) 2021 Christopher St. Cyr