The green shoots of an upturn seem to be popping up, slowly. No one knows for certain if true recovery from the recession is on the horizon, and a sit and wait attitude will have the same success as throwing a coin in a foundation and making a wish, so come on managers, let’s prepare for better times.
I’m crossing my fingers, just like you. Could things actually be, yikes, getting “better”? Individuals and companies who will thrive in the future won’t do so by accident. Purposeful thinking is required now, and ideally, one should have been thinking differently, more efficiently as soon as the recession hit. Continuous improvement is no longer just for Toyota.
Here are some things to keep in mind.
#1: Don’t rush to hire.
It’s so tempting to use new or additional resources (“budget”) to hire people. Relief seems right at your fingertips: must post to Craigslist! If you laid people off in the last few years and now are ready to recruit, I want you to remember some key points. One, the whole picture of what it costs to employee someone: salary, employment taxes, materials, benefits, etc. Second, remember the focus should be operating differently. Hence, consider the contingent workforce before you rush to hire full time. What about a part-time role? What about a contractor? How can you make your mind up? Assess what skills are essential for existing projects, for how long, and at what depth.
#2: Think about next year – and the year after. Be strategic.
One of the most painful – and accurate – pieces of feedback I received early in my career as a manager was that I was too comfortable with the black and white. I wasn’t at ease with the gray. I wasn’t strategic enough. Ouch.
As the recuperating economy cascades down to your level, to your company, it will be enticing to think day to day. Think deal to deal. Project to project. Instead, you must continue to plan out into the future. Verify you are spending time and resources on researching the next generation of your product or service. Innovation doesn’t just happen. Make it happen.
#3. Still time to talk to employees about the big picture.
Now that things are “better,” I can scrap all those conversations with employees about how to stay focused and motivated during the recession, right? Sorry, no.
If you have added this behavior to your routine – speaking regularly to team members about what to do, how, and how you can help, keep it in your manager toolbox. The economic outlook won’t drastically improve within the next few months. And we certainly won’t go back to the way things were.
If you were turning off lights or printing less earlier this year because you wanted to save money, why will you continue to do it now? Because it’s ingrained?
Practices for hard times are, at this moment, practices for the best times. What does sustainability mean to us, to our local economies, and the world’s, as momentum builds for a true recovery? Can we do more with less? Yes. Can we make more money with less? Yes. Sustainability isn’t simply for green sake. It’s for long-term competition sake.
© Leila Bulling Towne 2010