In most organizations, there is pressure to do more with less. As budgets tighten, scope expands and timelines become more aggressive, content teams are forced to get creative about how they deliver value.
Here are 5 tips for content leaders and teams to help them not just survive, but thrive, when the pressure is on.
Getting back to basics is about making tough decisions around where to spend our time and energy. There is always more we can do, but when the team is stretched, maximizing the value they can deliver is key.
To achieve that, it’s important to stay grounded in what matters most about your content. My team uses a concept called CAR Squared to define the basics. Is the content clear, concise, actionable, accurate, relevant and readable? If certain activities aren’t going to meaningfully improve those aspects of the content, we don’t do them.
Focusing on the basics will help teams avoid unnecessary effort. For example, some teams may spend a lot of time on formatting and design. Ask if internal content needs as much branding as external content. Ask whether there are ways to leverage technology to reduce manual effort.
It’s also important to question whether certain content is even necessary. Focus on progress over perfection. As content professionals, we always want to do more. That’s what makes us good at what we do, but when facing resource and budget constraints, we have to focus on the most critical work and let the nice-to-haves go.
It’s important to get teams thinking proactively about how they can leverage AI and to not be afraid of it.
As Generative AI continues to accelerate it will, no doubt, have an impact on what we do as content professionals. While it will continue to evolve, there are some practical use cases that don’t require a lot of investment and can support productivity.
For example, it’s surprisingly good at rewriting content in a different style or tone. It can also create summaries, FAQs, and identify keywords to aid in search optimization.
I encourage my team to think of Generative AI as a way to help us do what we do more efficiently. It’s like having an assistant we can delegate certain tasks to. The human-in-the-loop philosophy is critical for AI to work effectively for content creation, so you still need a level of review, but it helps save time and effort.
When we’re busy, it’s easy to start canceling teaming events, training, all-hands meetings, and happy hours. During times when the team is stretched to their limit, these activities can mean the difference between burnout and attrition, and having a motivated team that pushes through the challenges together. A sense of belonging and camaraderie is often what helps a team get through a challenging time.
Make the time for team building and training, even when it’s difficult to schedule. If anything, it gives the team a much needed break from the daily grind. Most importantly, it reminds them that they’re valued and you’re continuing to invest in them.
Recognition also goes a long way during challenging times. Leaders should take the time to understand what motivates each person on their team and celebrate both team and individual accomplishments.
Additionally, when capacity is limited and scope is expanding, it’s important for leaders to set clear expectations with the team. Leaders who foster an environment where the team feels comfortable discussing their struggles, sharing their ideas and pushing back when appropriate, will set the team up to have more genuine and effective relationships with leaders, stakeholders and each other.
One of the most challenging things for a team is knowing that they can make a bigger impact if they had more time and resources. It’s fundamentally important for leaders to acknowledge that we can’t do it all, and they need to help the team prioritize.
It can be helpful to have a prioritization model to guide these decisions. For example, content for larger audiences, business critical campaigns and other strategic initiatives should be prioritized over other work.
Funding can be challenging when budgets are tight, but when you think quality or delivery might suffer, consider asking for project-specific funding for a fixed period of time. For example, if you need two content specialists to work on a project for 6 months but don’t have capacity, consider asking the project sponsor for budget to cover offshore contract resources for 6 months. In my experience, critical campaigns and projects have some budget to work with, and the cost of offshore resources tends to be nominal in the grand scheme of things.
Challenging times can either bring a team together or pull it apart. That’s why it’s important not to wait until times are tough.
These tips are about creating a culture of inclusiveness, engagement, innovation, efficiency, and continuous improvement. These are things we should always be doing. So, applying these concepts during less challenging times will go a long way in preparing a team for whatever they may face in future.
A high-performing content team will always weather the storm more effectively. For more on that, see my previous article, What it Takes to Build a High-Performing Content Team.
I’ve been working in the content, knowledge management and communications space in some capacity for most of my career. While I don’t describe myself as a content professional, I am a problem seeker and solver who found a niche in the content space. I currently lead a content team at J&J, where I’ve been for the past seven years. Before that I spent 10 years at PwC.
At Johnson & Johnson, we believe good health is the foundation of vibrant lives, thriving communities and forward progress. That’s why for more than 135 years, we have aimed to keep people well at every age and every stage of life. Today, as the world’s largest, most diversified healthcare products company, we are committed to using our reach and size for good. We strive to improve access and affordability, create healthier communities, and put a healthy mind, body and environment within reach of everyone, everywhere. We are blending our heart, science and ingenuity to profoundly change the trajectory of health for humanity.