Bruce Tulgan is the new Tom Peters.
Howard Jenkins, Chairman and CEO (fmr.), Publix Super Markets, Inc.
Mar 2, 2015

Management Challenge #22: When Managing Under Resource Constraints
Excerpted from The 27 Challenges Managers Face


It’s already been a long cold winter – very snowy here in New Haven – but not lonely. I’ve been honored in the last several weeks to work with so many great leaders and managers in so many great companies in a wide range of industries. Every day I receive emails from leaders in organizations of every shape and size and I learn so much every day from all of you out there in the real world. Please keep sending your emails and engaging me in these great dialogues about the management challenges you are facing. I will engage with you by email and walk through any challenge with you as long as you are willing to keep the dialogue going. Thank you so much to all of you for helping me learn from you every day. I am very grateful!

Stay strong!




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Every time you assign a new project, task, or responsibility, you need to ask: Does this employee have the resources he needs to do the work assigned? Make resource planning a regular part of your regular one-on-one dialogue with every direct-report.

  • Teach your direct reports to do a resource-needs inventory. (see below)
  • Teach your direct reports how to get resources in your organization.

And what if you have direct-reports who sometimes or often simply cannot get their hands on the resources they need to do their jobs optimally? Do you let them throw up their hands in frustration and declare “There’s nothing I can do!” If they don’t have access to the resources they need to do the job, you need to teach them the art of the workaround, or a plan B.

Any successful person with significant work experience is quite familiar with the art of the workaround. In a pinch, without the necessary resources to do the job, your employees will be forced to come up with a workaround of some sort or another. Without your guidance and direction, the workaround might be tantamount to beating their heads against the wall trying to do something largely impossible, like digging a ditch with a salad fork. Or without your supervision and support, they might go off wildly in another direction, causing unintended consequences. You don’t want your direct-reports winging it when they need to figure out a resource workaround. You want to help talk them through the process. Whenever possible, it makes sense to talk about potential workarounds well in advance, in the earliest stages of resource planning, and then continue the conversation every step of the way. As you help your direct-reports anticipate necessary resources, discussing what sources to try and how they can go about getting the resources they need, you should also consider and talk through what to do if, despite best efforts, they are still not able to get the resources they need.


The Art of the Workaround: When You Can’t Get the Resources You Need

It’s Okay to Manage Yourself: Lesson 13


Based on our research, the following list covers just about any potential resource need one might need. Take inventory of:

  • -Work space
  • -Supplies
  • -Materials
  • -Equipment
  • – Transportation
  • – Information
  • – Operation
  • – Maintenance
  • – People
  • – Talent
  • – Training
  • – Communication
  • – Cooperation

You can use this list as a tool to help you in your resource planning discussions. If the list doesn’t work for you, then take a moment to think of the resources that are required for your direct-reports to get their work done and create a list that you can use in your one-on-one management dialogue.