In an earlier post on being a great boss in a recession, we wrote about aligning your priorities with the needs of your business. We emphasized how important it was to “explain your priorities clearly to your team – make sure they understand. If things have changed make sure they understand why!”
What should the priorities be for you in a recession? Here are some ideas!
Now is the time to work on your business, not in it! You need to understand your resources (including your suppliers), your costs and your market; and how they are moving over time. Make sure you know what resources you have you got in terms of infrastructure and staffing. Who are your suppliers and what is in their contracts? Take some time out to do some mapping and make sure you understand the real detail of your costs. On the market front, now is the time to look at those trade journals that have been piling up in the corner and to get on the net and look at your trade association’s web site! And don’t forget to check your bills and look out for those expenses from which you gain no real benefit!
Stand back when you observe and rate your organization realistically! If you mark it out of 10 on operations, infrastructure and marketing – what mark would you give? Determine what essential improvements you need to make! Plan those improvements and then monitor their implementation! Do it and do it now – you may not get another chance!
Get out your business plan and revise it realistically. Re-do your SWOT analysis! Set clear targets for income and expenditure. From now on you are going to monitor it not put it back in the drawer! Some of the changes you make will be dependent on some of the later items here.
If you understand your contracts, you will know how you are likely to be able to open them up and apply pressure to get better agreements. Your suppliers would probably rather reduce the price than see you go out of business but be reasonable – they are going through the same hard time. Defer non-critical investment that doesn’t have a short-term pay-off. Consolidate your infrastructure and operations where you can. Pay only for what you need and don’t over purchase equipment or services. Make sure your team understands why this is important – their jobs may depend upon it!
Keeping your customers warm
Work on the relationship and get them talking to you – there may even be new opportunities. You need to understand who is going to survive and do well in the new climate and who is not. Be very realistic about pricing – are you in a position to help them out and will that be critical to their survival?
Thinking the unthinkable
You hope that your organization will survive intact and even do well in the changed circumstances. You are a good boss and you don’t want to let people go. But you may have to. You need to understand who is essential to your business and who isn’t. Remember this is not just about their job role but also about intellectual capital! Who do you rely on for essential information in a crisis? Who has the closest relationship with your customers? Consider the alternatives to redundancy – part-time working, career breaks etc! Know what the law and good practice requires you to do if you do need to let people go and know where to go for help . Make your own plan and then keep it to yourself! I would keep it off site at home – when and if you need to tell your team about this – you want to be in charge of the message.
Involve your staff in the processes above where you can. Help them to support you and themselves and be as honest with them as you can. They want the organisation to survive. Handle their feelings with sensitivity and keep them on your side. They really are your greatest asset.
I hope all of this works for you and that you not only survive but thrive and grow! I would love to hear your thoughts on all of this and how you are doing!