Thriving in the Wake of the Great Recession: Part 3 – What is Possible

This is the 3rd part of a 3 part series blog on companies emerging from a brutal recession that the Harvard Business Review tagged as beginning in 2007.  Many businesses have failed, were acquired, or merely limped along…while a handful of businesses have emerged stronger than ever.

While the economy is still experiencing slower than usual growth, high unemployment rates, a struggling global economy, and strapped financial options, many organizations and businesses are setting their sights on the future. They are seeking to maximize their labor pool, position themselves for organizational change championed by employees, beef up their training and communication programs, and bring sales and profits back to pre-recession growth rates.

Instead of emerging from this recession looking at the “glass half-empty,” progressive companies have realized the old way of doing business has become extinct and that their glass is actually still “half full.” Forward-thinking organizations are reinventing themselves, redefining their business cultures, and rebuilding collaborative relationships and alliances with employees as well as partners, investors, and vendors.

To wrap this blog series up, let’s take a look at “what is possible” after a recession delivers a devastating reality check to organizations. Here are five “must-have” components to be addressed by organizations and businesses looking to thrive beyond the current recession.

Build Collaborative Relationships and Engagement

Build strong business relationships and they will come….this includes customers, vendors, business alliances, partners, and employees. Collaborative, cooperative relationships create:

  • repeat investment in your business and products
  • business loyalty for life
  • empowered work environments that engage, attract, and retain talented employees.
  • Improved employee productivity, morale, and customer satisfaction

Encourage Positive Communications

Establish productive meetings – it’s possible…really! Open the communication lines so they filter down to all employees to avoid confusion regarding projects and company purpose. Defeat incivility in the workplace. A recent report found that 96% of people in the United States have experienced incivility in the workplace and 75% of them were dissatisfied with the way their companies handled the situation, yet only 9% of them reported the incident. By encouraging positive and open communications in the workplace organizations stand to:

  • solve problems, make decisions, gain participation, establish effective training development, develop new products and services, improve processes and procedures – all through effective meeting and communication strategies.
  • improve the organization’s bottom line and build respect for its leaders
  • reduce harmful judging by employees, lack of trust, and lack of respect
  • reduce office gossip, back-stabbing, and rumors that take employees off task

Capitalize on Human Performances

Here we’re talking about hiring the best candidates for organizations and retaining top employees. When organizations place a higher importance on individual performance and behavior, they stand to:

  • improve personal performance and  team performance
  • easily identify individuals with greater performance potential
  • have a better understanding of a company’s culture, the profile of the ideal candidate, and of successful on-boarding of candidates.
  • combat high turnover among employees
  • widen their employment net and attract the right potential leadership team
  • improve productivity, experience less absenteeism, and less chaos

Improve Performance through Training

Training was sorely lacking in this current recession and many managers were left to manage “on the fly.” Employees also did not have the skills to effectively “sell” their company branding by handling customer fears and objections. Increase training programs and organizations give leaders and employees the tools to:

  • effectively sell.  Most people, no matter the job title, have trouble handling their potential client/prospects’ fears, questions, or objections. The ability to learn the art of handling objections can literally double or triple a company’s profits within a year.
  • A study of fortune 1000 companies have assessed a huge leadership preparation gap occurred during the recent recession when no training was conducted. Provide leadership training tools and an organization increases collaboration, productivity, and profits among all employees.

Thrive with Employee Embraced Change

Organizations that are transparent have employees that champion change and help the company thrive. Change includes everything from “life happens” events to the proper handling of social media. Having a strategic plan to cope with change gives an organization the agility to:

  • harness the power of social media to elevate the company, employees, and executives to new levels of engagement
  • create a social media policy that increases retention and attracts more highly qualified job candidates
  • focus on an organization’s purpose to engage employees as life happens to them and the company itself.
  • capitalize on unexpected changes to promote possibilities, desired changes, and growth in the company
  • engage employees who drive the results. Change doesn’t have to take years of hide-stripping effort when employees are catalyzed, empowered, engaged, and accountable.
  • ignite the human drive to achieve and champion change at all levels of operation. It creates a robust and engaged work environment where trust and cooperation thrive.

Finding a way through a recession is wrought with perils and dismal survival statistics for most businesses. However, companies equipped with the knowledge and tools to quickly and efficiently regroup are posed to charge out of the recession gates.

Join Dianne, Debra and other industry thought leaders for a break-through conference-based training telesummit coming December 2012Engagement, Retention & Growth: 10 Strategic Solutions for Sustainable Corporate Expansion and Retention.” We expand on and provide the steps to overcome the challenges, find a way through the recession storm, and the possibilities that await each organization as they go from surviving to thriving. Register now for this information-packed summit and save 30%.

Thriving in the Wake of the Great Recession: Part 2 – A Way Through

This is the 2nd part of a 3 part blog series on where we take a hard look at organizational survival rates after historic recessions. In last week’s blog, I reported some stark statistics revealed by the Harvard Business Review (HBR). Over the last 3 recessions, approximately 80% of companies had not regained their prerecession growth rates for sales and profits three years after a recession ended. Another 17% of companies didn’t survive…they went bankrupt or were acquired. So where does that leave the few stellar companies that actually prospered during a recession? They left the competition in the dust.

The “new” normal

With the current recession that began in late 2007, most company CEO’s realize the “old way” of doing business no longer exists. Their priority now is to restructure their organizations to cope with the “new normal.” How do leaders go about initiating change and reinventing themselves? By getting their employees on board to champion and lead the way to change.

Improperly trained managers

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, many organizations have come to realize they now face a large leadership preparation gap. During the recession no training was conducted while mid managers and supervisors, along with employees, were downsized. No one was supported in their leadership positions or received the proper training to effectively manage teams through unknown waters. Many companies have now turned to work station based training as a cost effective way to bring managers and team leaders the resources and tools they need to succeed.

Listed below are the challenges we touched on last week that most businesses will face coming out of the recession. This week, let’s look at how businesses can find a way through those same challenges.

  1. Business Infidelity – Every company must acquire the secrets to maintain solid business relationships by utilizing strategies to ignite the spark, fire, and passion with their clients, employees, partners, and vendors. Leaders must foster improved business relationships throughout the business to facilitate LOYALTY to create, retain, and sustain healthy positive business relationships.  The HBR study revealed that morale is usually better at companies that stress operational efficiency over massive layoffs. Employees at these companies appreciate top management’s commitment to them and they are more creative in reducing costs as a result. Progressive companies also stay closely connected to customer needs when making business decisions.
  2. Social media – Leverage your human capital to outwardly communicate your corporate values and culture and reinforce your brand.  Empower your employees, improve retention, and attract highly qualified candidates into the fold. Giving your executives a public face on social media can also benefit both the business (via hiring, retention, and growth) AND your executives.
  3. Communication Malfunctions – Understanding behaviors, judgment, and what drives individuals are all keys to helping team members traverse through the stages of group formation. Understanding how behaviors affect different people in each stage is vital to achieving outstanding team performance. Behavioral styles, motivational factors, value judgment, and how they influence individual relationships and team performance, all play a large part in communication and civility, or lack thereof, in the workplace.
  4. Mismanaged Human Performance – Evaluate every job and potential new employee for a better fit and performance potential. Predict which candidate will have a greater chance of performing in a given situation. Use the information gathered to coach and mentor others so they become better performers.
  5. “Hiring to Fill” Quick Fix – True success and excellence come from a strong dynamic team – one built on similar beliefs, strong ethical values, and behaviors that mirror and complement the overall company culture…not one built on ‘gut feel’ hiring decisions. Understanding company culture, identifying the key elements of the position being sought, and determining the profile of an ideal candidate is the foundational groundwork for a successful hire.
  6. Not Recognizing Every Employee is a Salesperson Businesses are always involved in sales interactions.   Making daily decisions to either gain a benefit or avoid a loss are to be expected in the decision-making process. So, it benefits all employees to recognize the unconscious beliefs about sales that hinder profitability in business and how to overcome those negative beliefs easily, effectively, and pain-free.
  7. Can’t Regroup Fast Enough to Retain Valuable Employees – The first task is to capture the emotional commitment of the key leaders quickly. The second is to engage the rest of the employees to champion change initiatives through inspiring stories and communication updates on the change effort progress.
  8. Lack of strategies for Unexpected Changes – Understanding a company’s purpose, which is different from its vision, goals, and objectives, is critical to keeping employees engaged and retained.  Purpose is the meaning, intention, and reason for a company’s existence.  As change happens and businesses evolve, savvy business leaders revisit the company’s purpose, build on it, or change it.  They ask themselves, “Does the reason for which the company was created still exist?  Do I as a leader have the same sense of resolve or determination for my work as I once did?  Does the company’s work give meaning to those who work here in addition to providing a paycheck?”

Finding a way through a recession is wrought with perils and dismal survival statistics for most businesses. However, companies equipped with the knowledge and tools to quickly and efficiently regroup are posed to charge out of the recession gates.

Next week, we will wrap up our 3 part series with “What’s Possible” for organizations when they find the formula for thriving and succeeding the Great Recession. Join Dianne, Debra and other industry thought leaders for a break-through telesummit coming December 2012Engagement, Retention & Growth: 10 Strategic Solutions for Sustainable Corporate Expansion and Retention.” We expand on and provide the steps to overcome the challenges, find ways through the recession storm, and the possibilities that await each business as they go from surviving to thriving.

Thriving in the Wake of the Great Recession: The Challenges Ahead

Engagement Retention and GrowthAs the nation emerges from one of the longest recessions in recent history, businesses are finding themselves wading through unprecedented waters. The newly emerging economy is experiencing slower than usual growth, high unemployment rates, a struggling global economy, and strapped financial options to boost capital expenditures.

If history repeats itself….

As U.S. businesses move past the recession, a few will roar out of the recession gates while most others will fail, be split up, sold off, or taken over. If history repeats itself, certain business strategies applied during the recession will determine to a large degree a company’s fate. The Harvard Business Review (HBR) conducted a yearlong study and analyzed the strategy selection and performance of corporate America during the past three global recessions. With three recessions over the past 30 years to collect data from, the 1980 crisis (1980 to 1982), the 1990 slowdown (1990 to 1991), and the 2000 bust (2000 to 2002), HBR revealed some startling findings.

Painfully slow recoveries

They analyzed strategies of 4,700 public companies, breaking down the data into three periods: the three years before a recession, the three years after, and the recession years themselves. HBR consistently found that seventeen percent of the companies in the study didn’t survive a recession: They went bankrupt, were acquired, or became private. The survivors were slow to recover from the battering as well. As a matter of fact, about 80% of them had not yet regained their pre-recession growth rates for sales and profits three years after a recession ended.

So as businesses emerge from the latest recession that began in 2007, what significant challenges can we expect they will face? Based on the information gathered from previous recessions, many organizations used strategies such as deep cutbacks and massive layoffs with very little reinvestment back into the company. Now these businesses must contend with these ineffective strategy methods if they are to thrive. Here are some of the challenges businesses, large and small, now face that must be corrected in order to survive:

  1. Business Infidelity – Customers, employees, partners, and vendors can be fickle when it comes to loyalty if there is a lack of connection or commitment within the organization. When a stakeholder reaches this level of disconnect, a business is subjective to “Business Infidelity.” Literally, a business will lose clients, employees, partners, and vendors to the first competitor with the best marketing that reflects the needs of the consumer, collaborator, or investor.
  2. Social Media Soapbox – In this new social society, where customers, workforce, and prospective employees all have instant access to their own personal social media megaphone, companies are struggling to control their corporate image. They fear disgruntled employees whose public rantings are picked up by the press.  Business leaders are frustrated and confused by social media and tired of trying to contain and restrain employee engagement. Holding them back isn’t working. Yet how do you let them loose without sabotaging the efforts of marketing and PR?
  3. Communication Malfunctions – Along with judging, lack of trust, and lack of respect, communication failures are a leading cause of team malfunction.  Some teams never make it out of the storming phase, while others do not want to go through it at all and want to skip it.  A common frustration is a feeling of teams not performing to their potential
  4. Mismanaged Human Performance – It is staggering to read the research today on how much it costs a company when a top performer terminates their employment.  There are ranges from 1.5 times the employee’s salary up to $7,000 a day… for each day a top performer is missing.  Team leaders have mismanaged how to improve employee personal performance, team performance, and to how to identify people with greater performance potential.
  5. “Hiring to Fill” Quick Fix – As companies scramble to fill positions of employees that were laid and retained employees now handing in their resignation, they find themselves in the quandary of “filling vacant seats.”  Qualities, beliefs, ethical values, and behaviors have to be identified and quantified if the hiring process is to be successful. Leave any one area out of the equation and you have the potential for a ‘bad hire” which is a “costly hire.”
  6. Not Recognizing Every Employee is a Salesperson – There is a simple business formula:  No sales = No profits = No money = No business.  The ability to learn and then teach the art of handling objections can literally double or triple your profits within a year. Without this skill, you’ve lost the sale and relationship.  
  7. Can’t Regroup Fast Enough to Retain Valuable Employees – The first challenge is to capture the emotional commitment of the key leaders. The second is to engage the rest of the employees to champion change and communicating their efforts though inspiring stories. The problem with surviving a recession that has lasted five years or more depends on whether companies are able to regroup in time without losing talented employees and the lion share of their business to more agile and progressive competitors.
  8. Lack of strategies for Unexpected Changes -The best designed project matrices, timelines, vision statements, goals, and objectives can be left suspended or upended when leaders or employees experience personal changes or changes from the outside the company.  Unexpected changes are a part of life, and create less impact on a company when there are strategies in place to address these issues.

This is the first part of a three-part series blog on Thriving in the Wake of the Great Recession. Next week’s blog will move beyond the challenges faced after the recession to finding “A Way Through” with employee championed change and more. Join Debra, Dianne and other industry thought leaders for a break through Training Summit coming December 2012 that discusses challenges with actionable take-aways, for leaders, managers and employees to emerge from the recession stronger than before. At The Expert Marketing Coach and CoreValues we know there are terrific possibilities that await each business if they are to roar out of this recession.

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