Working on a Small Staff: the good, great, and could do without

If you didn’t know, Monday through Friday I get the opportunity to work with an incredible group of women. We work on projects that serve to improve the quality of public education in our county. We take on a lot to be able to do this. What can make it stressful? There are only 8 of us on the team. This tiny group is taking on an entire county of people teaching, learning, and guiding them through the importance of a vibrant public education system. Here are my thoughts about working with a small staff.

The great: The amount of work that gets done by this compact but determined team is out of this world. At any given moment we all are working on at least four or five projects that have similar deadlines. Not to mention, sometimes those projects can be completely shifted based upon what happens in the political arena about public schools. Everyday, it amazes me how much we are able to get done through synchronizing our workloads and helping wherever possible.

The good: Relationship building is a key aspect of the work we do. A great deal of our advocacy is based in getting people to connect with us, so that we can connect them with another community influencer. We are building networks of relationships that hold strong, especially when hard decisions need to be made for the health of our school system. This same tactic of relationship building trickles over into our working relationships with each other. When you know your teammates and a little bit about where they come from, you can understand why they make certain decisions.

The could do without: With a small staff comes small responsibilities that you didn’t know you were signing up for. Sometimes you end up in the middle of Target trying to figure out which pack of toilet tissue is going to last for your home AND the office. You can end up being Program Manager and part time custodian or Development Director and part time spider tamer! You do what needs to be done because it makes for a better team.

Quick tips for success with a small staff:

  1. Get clear about who is doing what and when. You don’t need people doing the same work or letting things fall through the cracks.
  2. If your organization is a non-profit, spend time on your volunteer stewardship process. There are some pretty creative ways that you engage the community in not only your output, but your process, as well.
  3. Pre-plan staff meetings and outings at the beginning of each quarter. This helps to curb burnout and allow for dedicated time for team cohesion. Put it on the calendar before everyone’s schedule gets full.

How many people do you work with? What is the best thing about your team? What could you do without?

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