Here’s some tips on Surviving a Recession By David Reed. Whether we are in the middle of a recession or not is something we will let the economists debate the next six months. For the rest of us, we have to make wise decisions as we navigate this time of uncertainty that is faced by a large number of companies and industries. For many organizations, the first response to a threat of a decline in revenue is to make reductions in the workforce.
This may be the right move depending on the financial stability of the company and the ability to weather a financial storm, but there are several negative consequences that will more than likely follow this decision:
1. Painful separation. Depending on how deep the cuts go, you may have to say goodbye to some good, loyal employees and co-workers.
2. Stress for those left! The typical response following a reduction in staff is to re-assign all the work to those fortunate to still have a job. This can force people into unfamiliar roles and require an extended work week to get the job done.
3. Organizational confusion. When there are changes in leadership and employees have to report to someone new, it will take some time to get used to the leader`s style. Add to that the challenges that come with operating a lean organization and having new holes in the corporate knowledge base, and you can have real chaos.
So how do you respond and make the most of a difficult situation? Following is a short list of actions that you can take to minimize the negative impact on your organization.
1. Communicate! Even though those in the leadership team may have a good understanding of what is going on and where the organization is heading, the rest of the employees will be hungry for information. Do everything you can to paint an honest picture of the future and put any anxiety to rest.
2. Roles & Responsibilities. Whenever there is a reduction in the workforce, there is a need to clearly define the new roles and responsibilities. This goes much deeper than the reporting structure, but includes task assignments and project updates. Completing a €œRoles & Responsibilities matrix for the re-shaped organization will help reduce the confusion.
3. Adjust workload. One of the mistakes that most organizations make is to attempt to continue doing everything they did prior to a significant percentage of the team leaving. At the same time as a layoff is being planned, the leadership should be completing an exercise of identifying the tasks that fall into the following categories:
a. Critical. These tasks must continue due to a legal requirement or a key expectation of your customer.
b. Important. The tasks in this category are important, but could be reviewed to see if a less time consuming version of the task could be substituted and still provide the majority of the benefit. Discuss each task and look for ways to remove a step or two in the process.
c. Optional. We all have tasks that seem important, but when push comes to shove, they can be postponed or even canceled. Ask yourself this question: What will be the outcome if we have to stop doing that particular task for a period of 3-6 months?
Remember to put anything on the table when it comes to reducing the workload. This includes management reports and tasks that tend to be more internally focused. Do everything you can to maintain the tasks that have the most direct impact on your customers.
This is just a high level discussion of a very complex and difficult subject. If your organization needs help preparing for or navigating the waters of a business slow down, we at Ziglar have experienced consultants that can guide your ship through the stormy weather to emerge on the other side stronger and prepared for expansion.
David Reed is the Founder of Customer Centered Consulting Group, which works with organizations of all sizes to improve their effectiveness through enhanced customer service, strong leadership, and simplified processes.