All

Navigating And Surviving An Economic Downturn

Navigating and Surviving an Economic Downturn

Running a company during a downturn and health crisis is an immense challenge that will test character and skills. Those who lead with humility, pragmatism, agility, while empowering their organization are best placed to survive and thrive. Realigned strategy, financial plans for liquidity and viability, and your people are solution ingredients to each unique business circumstances. Lead like you know you can, stay safe and be positive.

Triangulate - Triage - Strategy Evaluation & Realignment - People Optimization

Health First

Of course health and the welfare of people come first. Clearly the priority is to take every step to protect the physical health and well-being of employees and their families based on World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.

Cashflow, and liquidity, do we have the capital to remain in business?  

Aside from taking health precautions, the best way to take care of your people and business is to ensure your company is resilient and sustainable.

A Federal stimulus package was signed by the President March 27th. A large part of the capital is intended to help businesses remain solvent and continue employment. 2 attachments; Stimulus explainer and Small Business Owners Guide provide a greater level of detail, both talk about the Paycheck Protection

A few important points.

  1. It appears the disaster relief loan that you can get from the SBA is not a loan forgiveness program, it’s a disaster loan program. If you sign up for this, it will require you to repay the entire amount. The PPP program has a strong forgiveness component for payroll and associated costs, rent and utilities or interest on your mortgage and utilities. I will bet that you would rather have debt forgiveness more than a long-term, low interest loan.
  2. You must sign up for this program through an approved SBA lender. We’re recommending that you make sure your lender is an SBA preferred lender. This means the bank can underwrite the forgivable loan and not have to go to the SBA for approval.
  3. This is probably just the first bill that you will use. It might not be the last. Make sure you stay up to date with what Congress is doing and whether it benefits you. We will do the same.

Uncertainty, Unknowns

Regardless of the industry you occupy, and taxonomy as a business leader you care deeply about building a sustainable company. With COVID-19 and the resulting economic downturn, major uncertainty lies ahead;

  • When will the virus be contained?
  • Can we make key business decisions quickly and effectively?
  • How do we preserve our culture?
  • How can we avoid going out of business during any lock-down? 

Leadership

It’s during the most turbulent and volatile times great leaders truly lead. Of course, circumstances may dictate business closure. Many small and main street businesses have less than a month of liquidity to sustain operations, and relief funding may not be distributed fast enough to prevent them closing, at least temporarily. With a thoughtful plan, hard work, discipline, and tenacity, re-opening will be possible for many. We can look back at prior downturns, glean lessons and use in our approach as we navigate this moment and way forward.

History Tells

The 2008 recession was more of an economic issue, driven by loose credit and poor regulation. Our current reality is the duality of a health crisis driving an economic downturn while attempting to mitigate the damage and then deal with the fallout. While there are an incredible number of unknowns, we do know business is a team sport, where owners and leadership teams navigate where to play and how to win. This is a time for leadership to make a difference, a time to make powerful changes and lay the foundation for the future.

Strategic performance

Performance can only be achieved by people, which means the most effective use of our people, talent optimization - Crafting and aligning talent and business strategy that mobilizes your employees to be more effective at executing. Leaders at companies that practice talent optimization report that 89% of their strategic initiatives were successful - that’s 22% higher than average. Especially now when you need to grab every advantage you can, improving outcomes by 22% is an enormous market differentiator. While talent optimization is a solution for everyday business challenges, it’s exceptionally helpful in times of change and uncertainty. It’s a practical way to ensure agility and resilience.

Survival relies on agility.

While recessions impact most organizations, an HBR study found 9% of companies flourished after a slowdown. The leaders of these companies ensured business agility and resiliency. In a speech, professor 'Leon Megginson' summarized Darwinism: “It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives, it is not the strongest that survives, but the species that survives is the one that is best able to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”

Rapidly pivot as needed.

In a crisis, a company’s survival relies on the ability to mobilize and lead people. While having a well-documented business strategy is critical - It is people that execute them. As in “normal” business circumstances - decisions and actions determine whether people will be an asset or a liability - in the case of a crisis these challenges are amplified and outcomes, good and bad will manifest faster. Ideally, with the right people in place we can ensure adaptation and effective development and implementation of a new or adapted operating model.

The essence of strategy is really where to play and how to win

A thorough understanding of the market​-​place competition, industry segmentation, client target choices, macro influences and various other drivers is necessary to develop where to play and how to win.

There is a myriad of tools that can be used to diagnose and analyze the market place, industry, competition and pricing - ​ from ​M Porters five forces to ​S​WAT analysis, ​Pest and various other forms of political environmental social and tech​ drivers​ - Value chain analysis ​and ​OGS​M​ frameworks like the (ROSE℠) model our clients use to support business strategy choices of what to do and what not to do​.

These ​tools ​in the hands of good leadership and strategists ​can be utilized to ultimately help determine what value ​a business will bring​,​ to what client base, end users an​d through which distribution ​channel, what capabilities, whether you compete on price, niche or differentiation​.​ Once we have a strategy in place and we have identified what success looks like we must have the business model(s) and system activities that fit in between that strategy and results to deliver those outcomes -with performance systems necessary​ to ensure that you’re delivering, monitoring and reiterating to stay ahead​.​ 

Data, Diagnostics, Dialogue

We use a full set of diagnostics, tools, strategic and implementation processes to achieve client outcomes. In business management a prescription without precise diagnosis is dangerous. Our organizational diagnostics provide a bedrock of evidence on where to effectively plan your resources to achieve your goals. There is no better time than anytime including an economic crisis to collect and apply data to your business practice for greater insight, to enable more impactful decisions to aid survival and come out the other side stronger.

Organizational Health

Organizational health is the rising tide that lifts all ships. Healthy companies nurture organizational health to optimize people performance across all activities and business drivers. It is the power of a cohesive leadership team who dare to adopt the behaviors necessary to create an environment to harness the whole organizations’ value, where their right fit people collectively outperform greater than the individual sum of the parts. This can only happen effectively through appreciation of the ideology and a commitment to disciplined implementation and practice management.

In the following guide we use the four disciplines of talent optimization- Design, Inspire, Diagnose, and Hire- to provide a framework for how to adapt your business and solve the following challenges:

Adopt a framework for how to adapt your business and solve the following challenges: 

Reduction in demand: Novel coronavirus caused a sudden and massive slowdown in economic activity and a precipitous reduction in demand for products and services. Customers may pay late, place contracts on hold, cancel, and freeze spending. Pipeline deals may not close and lead generation could dry up.

Reduction in spending: Means companies must recalibrate investments. Companies will conserve cash, right size capacity, or reduce headcount permanently to preserve core product and or services to stay up and running. The unprecedented federal stimulus package is largely intended to incentivize businesses to retain employees and re-enable operations. The dilemma is determining client demand, which also means reevaluating strategy, business model, and a myriad of other drivers.

Supply and infrastructure disruption: Supply chains may break down, and inventory may be depleted. Meetings, travel, and events have already been canceled for most part. School and daycare cancellations will cause additional business interruptions. While these are necessary to reduce community spread of the virus, they mean more stress for working parents and they threaten your organization’s ability to continue operating efficiently, if at all.

Remote work:Remote work is a radical disruption to many organizations. Even if you had flexible work arrangements in place before the pandemic, shifting to a 100% remote workplace brings both logistical and interpersonal challenges that interfere with the job to be done.

Fear and uncertainty: No one can say for sure when the virus will be contained. No one knows how severe economic conditions will become, or how long they’ll last. Uncertainty and fear can prevent employees from speaking up to share new ideas or innovate - exactly what organizations need during hard economic times. Fear can also drive down engagement levels and receptiveness to change.

These are just a few of the many challenges being faced right now. Swift, difficult action is required to rise above them with a thoughtful action plan. The best business practices carried through normal conditions and cycles are relevant just more concentrated.

Strategy evaluation, evolution and talent optimization enables you to adapt to change and lead through all business cycles – Essential during this crisis and most volatile times -  You can come out on top by ensuring:

- Rapidly realigned strategy and capabilities - How will you lead very different operations once your strategy has changed?

- Adaptable operating model and culture - How will you preserve your culture when employees are dispersed and stressed?

- Resilient leaders, teams, and individuals - How will you restore communication and collaboration in teams that have lost key members - or leaders? 

- Realigned jobs to accomplish more with less - How do you help your mid-level managers not buck under the pressure of doing more with less?

A variety of people missteps can cause business failure.

LFG clients can count on our immediate support. If you’re not a client and would like expert help and support to evaluate your situation, reorganize priorities, manage change, or simply develop a change strategy during this time, you can lean on us to meet you remotely and facilitate team sessions virtually.

A Business action plan & check list in a Crisis.

1.  Communications Protocol

Action; Develop a thoughtful internal communication plan.

Companies that develop thoughtful internal communication plans can swiftly address employee fear and anxiety to maintain focus despite a rapidly changing environment.

Prior to problem-solving triage, develop an internal messaging protocol. An ability to communicate with employees in a way that helps them feel valued and motivated in the face of change and uncertainty is critical. Lead with openness, transparency, and honesty.

Ways to enhance communication with your workforce during a crisis.

-      Designate a channel/platform for updates (slack, or otherwise).

-      Record and share video updates.

-      Send a weekly newsletter via email.

-      Host virtual town halls.

-      Upload new process docs to your internal site.

-      Host more frequent check-ins or stand-ups.

-      Livestream all-company meetings.

-      Share a FAQs document.  

2.  ReDesign

Action;Review and realign strategy

Make the hard decisions on which capabilities to retain and which to let go - to support strategic realignment and ensure an adaptable strategy.

When looking to survive an economic downturn, realign strategy and refocus on core operations. Adaptability can see us through volatile times - and make us stronger.

Some likely following questions:

-      What immediate actions do we take amidst a crisis?

-      Which leaders should we entrust to guide us through this?

-      How might this downturn impact current job functions?

-      Consider reductions in spending or workforce?

A strategy shift means tough decisions. Owners and leaders will assess the strength of the business - the underlying capabilities, system activities, resources, and people - facing decisions about which capabilities to retain and which to let go. Evaluation of where to play and how to survive and win.

Bring a crisis response team together - Best practices for risk mitigation

Action; Gather a crisis response team and map out best-case and worst-case scenarios.

Few companies see a financial crisis coming. Even if they do, chances are they won’t be able to avoid the impact in its entirety. Take immediate action to ensure you’re ahead of future hardships. That means developing contingency plans. When forming your own crisis response team, your executive team must:

Be aware of natural behaviors: All owners and leaders should be aware of their natural behavioral biases (risk tolerance, people orientation, task driven...) and how they may amplify under pressure. Self-awareness, and of others improves team collaboration, communication, and speed of decision making and how quickly a team can recover. Here’s where being part of a high functioning team and playing above the rim makes the difference.

Understand what behaviors are essential in this moment: An effective response team requires various behaviors. While a leader facilitates, they also step in to make the calls, so must be able to make decisions quickly often with limited information. Similarly, team balance is needed so representation is necessary from legal and risk perspective members who have a naturally higher risk aversion so as to provide valid views to help protect the business.

Clarity in decision making and overall governance: The response team should have representation throughout the company. Equal decision-making power is not the intention, but it is vital that everyone understands their role and authority. The primary objective of the response team is to evaluate best, and worst-case scenarios.What could happen? What could go wrong? And what are things that are within our control to fix those problems?

Adapt business strategy.

Action; Adapt business strategy in relation to evolving circumstances.

Get ahead of it. Re-forecast revenue and reevaluate costs. Reprioritize the work and rethink how teams can do this work. Evaluate options, by revisiting the existing business strategy - Identify which strategic goals no longer make sense - Focus on a small number of critical priorities.  An existing strategy where the opportunity is to elevate, innovate and apply cutting-edge technology for growth might require a pivot and decision not to continue a high-risk, high-reward path. Alternately, a refocus on customer retention and monetizing existing products requiring realignment of talent to strategy is necessary. A "stabilizing" the business strategy in an unknown marketplace is to rely on "core" and what you know and can  more effectively predict is essential. Time is of the essence, making better decisions than the competition and executing. Companies practicing organizational health are already best placed to weather these storms. Leaders make calls regarding how to adapt the business strategy and act on it quickly. Leadership has to weigh-in, buy-in, and commit even when the determined path is not a unanimous the team must commit and move to execution without delay.

Assess the fit of the leadership team.

Action; Examine behavioral makeup of the senior team.

Adapting your business strategy is important, but execution is what determines success or failure. Its important to understand and assess senior team/strategy fit to determine which executives are behaviorally best suited to the new path. Who might struggle to execute revised strategic priorities?

The use of data and diagnostics is just as important with people strategy as with business strategy- the 2 have to be aligned to attain a sustainable competitive advantage. Use data, not intuition to make these critical assessments to establish the right team fit - iteratively. Behavioral data can be extremely helpful in understanding what activities, roles, and responsibilities individuals are naturally suited for. Using tools like the PI Behavioral Assessment™, you can identify an individual’s behavioral drives and needs - an objective way to determine how natural of a fit they are for a given role and the teams effectiveness. It is simple to see how naturally-suited your team is to execute a pivoting strategy - and where there are gaps. Please reach out to us for help. 

Leverage unique strengths and move to address gaps.

Action; Improves senior team self-awareness, and address gaps between leaders and strategy.

New and or refocused strategy means people might be less able to execute based on their natural behavior tendencies, exacerbated in a crisis. Identified leadership gaps, and move with speed to address them. The size and scope of the leadership changes vary based on the magnitude of the strategic move. It might mean simply redirecting someone from an initiative and replacing with another. It may be advisable to make wholesale changes, but it’s a high priority to identify gaps. Asking people to step into roles they are not able to fulfill and behaviorally unfit isa recipe for failure. In crisis mode hiring is likely frozen, so identify and channeling performers with the right aptitudes will make a significant difference. Stretching unique behavioral strengths to fit the current need and being aware as a team where support is necessary, and who’s stretching where is a best practice. Like a modern-day great sports team, data drives how to position players and players collectively know their strengths and weaknesses and how to backfill with bench strength or otherwise as the opposition requires. A self-awareness and accountability enable existing executives and bench strength to bridge a gap in the interim. Agility is the name of the game in an economic downturn. The better a team is prepared to continuously learn and adapt to their surroundings, the more likely the company will successfully navigate the changing, and iterative paths.

Modifying an operating model.

 Action; Consolidate and alter teams as needed - Identify the right internal talent to fill new roles.

A change in business strategy such as pivoting from growth to consolidation may not mean changes in business models. If plans involve reductions in force or role changes, clearly consolidating and modifying existing team is.  In doing that, you create new people dynamics– managers, teams and working relationships. A modified operating model may deliver necessary clarity. Assessing this means reflecting on

• What existing roles will not be needed based on the downturn strategy?

• What new functions are necessary?

• Which people are a good behavioral fit for these new roles?

• What is needed to reallocate talent, restructure and minimize reductions?

A priority of client retention will require outreach manpower. Redirecting lead generation, and marketing resources may be part of the solution or elsewhere within the business to identify the right people that match your strategy’s needs. People data provides structure to help unveil the nascent strengths of your workforce.

Much like an approach to reshaping a leadership team, a data-driven process removes emotion and mitigates a natural bias from the outcome. Data helps make tough decisions quicker, with improved clarity and greater accuracy. Data and diagnostics permeate Lavan’s comprehensive strategic management services to drive insightful, impactful choices.

The problem with a reduction mindset

Often referred to downsizing as various costs are managed down from overhead, payroll, R&D and many more to preserve capital and remain viable and or to fight another day. However, focusing solely on personnel choices and removing functions, sidesteps what’s most critical to success and the foundation of organizational health, and competitive advantage: the talent necessary to win. It’s important to determine how you will realign your organization around the people retained -Competency, clarity and communication are always essential and critical when managing in crisis. As in normal business circumstances, in a crisis defining a clear path forward is a best and essential practice, to empower a leadership team to mobilize talent and align around the most critical issues.

Reset on a basis for future recovery

Refocusing efforts, making difficult calls that are needed to push ahead, thereafter setting the foundation for future recovery.

3.   Re-Inspire

Again, it’s a best practice, but in a crisis from a strategic perspective, we likely have a new place to play and how to win, so we need to iterate across all people drivers and elements.

Empower managers to be steady, effective leaders – rebuilding collaboration and individual performance to ensure resilient teams and individuals. A revised business strategy requires people inspiration and prompts various questions:

• How can we coach and develop managers to rise and effectively lead impacted people and teams?

• How do we manage the untested logistical layers of remote and virtual meeting work?

• How can we spark collaboration, cooperation and bridge communication within and across teams?

• How do we coax culture, and draw people together around shared values?

The inspire element of talent optimization is captured through empowerment; a lead, lead ideology, where employees embrace self-management and a peer to peer accountability mindset. In times of crisis, and severe black swan events, people are naturally stressed, anxious, and perhaps susceptible to depression, performance can dip as communication and collaboration deteriorates. Anticipation and a precipitous move to ameliorate these changes is necessary before a new paradigm becomes part of changed business fabric.

Empower employees to be resilient.

Resilience is what binds business strategy through thick and thin. It applies equally to all personnel. In adversity all action and decisions made are exacerbated. Everyone’s time increases in value - Emotions run high through reduction and remaining people are impacted - Resilience is the ability to manage through adversity, a quality we wish for our children, family, friends and co-workers. As Rocky famously said, “Going in one more- round when you don’t think you can. That’s’ what makes all the difference in your life”

-      How do you improve employee productivity in times of adversity?

-      How do you improve efficiency to help ensure work is most effective?  

Developing and empowering your employees, beginning with your managers embracing a lead/lead culture, help people rise, and to lead with confidence through self-awareness, understanding their natural behavioral tendencies - and see them shine and the business persist. A simple behavioral assessment tool provides powerful data for employee self awareness and team dynamics.

Maintaining career pathing.

 Action; Develop opportunities for people to grow and increase leadership capacity.

Career pathing under normal circumstances allows a business to identify and create new roles as success growth occurs. It's a way to inspire and motivate people and reward notable performance. In crisis, hiring is most likely frozen and without the ability to take on new talent there’s less if not no ability to promote and fill in as desired. However, you can develop opportunities for people to grow. As noted in the ReDesign, a change in business strategy can eliminate existing functions and create new ones. These roles give employees an opportunity to step up and develop in a new part of the business.

A freeze on hiring when a new direction(s) are occurring is an opportunity to realign people and let them shine in new places. Be creative, retain and engage high performers.

High-potential managers with scaled down roles after strategic realignment can be reinvigorated, purposeful and highly engaged when reassigned to work in a role they can flourish, particularly when based on personality and behavioral tendencies.

Develop self-aware leaders.

Action; Build manager self-awareness, and empower leadership styles

Any leadership opportunities are extremely valuable as they provide an additional means of engaging employees. They also up-skill people at a time a business needs it most. Developing leaders should incorporate teaching the value of self-awareness. Using behavioral data to objectively take employees through their unique behavioral strengths and blind spots - Comparing behavioral makeup to others within the organization. 360 reviews can work where employees are nearing review, and the use of leadership rubric to assess an employee’s current leadership capacity.

Self-awareness is critical to effective leadership. Managing people similarly wired is not the same as with those wired differently, friction can arise and unchecked lead to disengagement. As organizations adjust to working remotely the need to build strong relationships becomes even more crucial. Tools we use at Lavan help companies reach peak performance by enhancing the ability to teach managers how to tailor their communication, feedback, and leadership style to meet different individual needs. To facilitate honest, regular feedback between parties, encourage managers to hold a 1-on-1 meeting at least twice a month with each direct report - With the current remote landscape perhaps even more frequently. 

Inspire high-performing teams.

Action; Identify and redesign for communication gaps created among team members.

Rightsizing and reorganization, inevitably leads to team consolidation. Each team alteration can change dynamics based on a new co-worker and resulting relationships. Without care the performance of these groups can be negatively impacted at a most crucial time when resources are so valuable. Every team must be optimized to reach its full potential. Using team dynamic tools, and identifying work styles, enables aggregation of behavioral data across entire teams or departments and very powerful insights translating to higher performance - Transparency and a window to view behaviors team members share, and those they don’t enables team adjustment to maximize intended function(s) - So incredibly game changing powerful, like a high functioning sports team playing above the rim because of team dynamics. Hopefully everyone has experienced what its like to be on a high functioning harmonized productive team. BA data on members make this goal more attainable. Use the data it works!

Protect and adapt your culture.

Action; Reinforce and reward core values and desired behaviors. Recognize and reward behaviors associated with any new strategic direction.

Like poor job fit, and ill equipped manager, and questionable team fit dynamics, are all areas that can lead to severe employee disengagement - Financial woes can also change culture, the 4th driver of employee disengagement. Reducing discretionary spend hunkering down, saving resources, limiting perks where economic forces are already causing stress, unveils the baseline culture of a business. The cultural normalcy is typically underpinned by core values and expected behaviors. Culture has a critical role to play in fostering the engagement of people and what employees look to for stability and a shared sense of community. It’s the broad business fabric that helps bind people together like the visceral purpose of a firm permeating throughout like-minded people who are the heart and sole of the organization. It is critical to protect culture by reinforcing and rewarding behaviors aligned with your vision and mission. Be open to adapt culture where and when needing to execute a revised business strategy. Culture should encourage employees to act to support desired goals. Recognize and reward behaviors associated with your strategic direction to foster your culture. Put mechanisms in place to ensure the right behaviors are rewarded and that everyone sees them.

4.   Diagnose

To preserve productivity, ensure a resilient operating model and culture, best practices mean measuring and acting on data - Employee engagement data. An organizational restructuring will likely negatively impact employee engagement. The earliest mitigation means identifying and fixing pain points. An experience survey can help map:

•     Resource allocation and direct attention to the jobs/roles requiring the most

•     Determine where managers require support to be successful

•     Identify where trust and culture are the weakest within the organization

•     Facilitate high-performing teams where cooperation needs to be bridged

In this moment measuring engagement goes beyond pin pointing pain points. Most people will likely require time to adapt to a new normal. Beyond remote work people are adjusting to quarantined conditions, social distancing and the emotions derived from such isolation now they’re working from home. Different personalities and work styles will mean adjustment, acceptance and embracing  will vary by person, more readily for some than with others. Adjustment can manifest in many ways - it becomes necessary to check in with people and ensure understanding and empathy. Of course, desired performance is more easily obtained if a healthy culture, with organizational health, is in place with a talent strategy aligned to business strategy.

Determine what remote engagement looks like.

Action; What constitutes remote engagement

Not every organization was and is prepared, and or able to implement a fully remote solution today - regardless all are experiencing a level of shock. Each system activity, from procurement, to internal logistics, sales, marketing and all related people may have varying levels of impact. HR, Finance, leadership all can face different hurdles and each likely to have naturally diverse behavioral tendencies - For some the stretch to adapt will be greater and exhausting. In order to pinpoint where engagement may be most heavily impacted contemplate:

• What is causing any disquiet ?

• Are there logistical challenges now that didn’t exist before?

• Did trust in leadership wane because of a specific decision?

• Do employees feel they don't have the resources necessary to perform?

• Are managers missing the mark?

• Are people out of harmony or and or exhibiting divisive behaviors?

Is the employee experience deteriorating? To optimize talent in these moment, owners and leaders must triage and prioritize clinically. This means evidence, relevant data and facts! - Where have roles/jobs changed, which teams are feeling the most pressure, where is the culture degrading. Information enables targeting the right areas of the organization where misalignment and disengagement are likely the highest. Diagnose in the talent space can be considered measurement of a human capital downturn, where drawing data provides insight to enable the most insightful and therefore impactful talent management. Measuring engagement helps to determine whether talent will emerge through a critical hurdle, energized and engage or move on to competition as a costly loss.

Focus on the four underlying engagement drivers.

Companies are most likely reducing perks used to foster high engagement, which will naturally sharpen employees’ sense of overall fulfillment, belonging and purpose. The real drivers of productivity and engagement:job fit, manager fit, organizational fit, and team fit are the most influential half of organizational health and where a leadership team can play above the rim.

Measuring engagement is incredibly important for a business forced into reductions. Dynamics and attitudes are impacted, pervasive within the remaining teams who are most critical to forging ahead. A rightsizing means less people doing more with less and perhaps with new responsibilities.Engagement  and efficiency is paramount -genuine appreciation necessary - thank them

“What do people need to feel truly connected to their job, their manager, their team, and this organization, amidst all the change and uncertainty? Each leader’s ability to answer that question and execute will tell the future of the organization and how well and quickly the company will fair through and after downturn.”Andrea Sotgiu MD Lavan Financial Group.

Refine what metrics matter most.

Action; What metrics matter now in this moment.

Most businesses have operating reports or dashboards to enable key data monitoring: sales figures, qualified leads, financials, trends, ratios, customer satisfaction and so on - with the intention to link people behaviors to outcomes, and ability to dynamically assess business health, and trajectory so changes can be made before poor results manifest in the backward looking financials. Some attempt to measure people motivation, but too often not well enough or at all. In this moment ( but in reality always) comprehensive people metrics, such as employee engagement and motivation data, is critical. Comprehensive employee lifecycle management is a game changer = Talent optimization by constantly aligning talent and business strategies. An economic downturn, with remote work forces so many strategy changes those that handle most effectively will emerge with greater competitive postioning.

Collecting and analyzing people data and acting on it in a timely manner makes the difference – For a more productive and engaged workforce. Doing so won’t change the macroeconomic factors at play, and uncertainty will still linger. But you’re much better off addressing people problems because it’s the right thing to do and in doing so people recognize it and rise. The alternative is allowing the problems to become pervasive, loss of people and performance.

Measure employee engagement data.

Action; Measure employee engagement data - Create a plan for checking engagement in regular appropriate intervals - Keep it updated as you collect more data, and track progress.

“OrganizationalHealth can only happen effectively through appreciation of the ideology and a commitment to disciplined implementation and practice management - Gallup reports that highly engaged organizations have 21% higher profitability”  Andrea Sotgiu MD Lavan Financial Group

 Gauge how your workforce is feeling emotionally. Start with whatever is the most efficient, cost-effective manner of gathering the data needed : 

•     Spreadsheet analysis  

•     Cloud deployment solutions tools such as Tableau

•     Survey assessments covering disengagement drivers (job, manager, organization/culture, team)

•     A comprehensive talent optimization platform such as PI

Employee engagement surveys and tools help measure engagement at both the team and organizational levels - asking questions that map to job, manager, team and organization with evolving action plans. Employees can become disengaged where there’s an imbalance or misalignment in any of these areas.

Be aware of the types of questions bearing in mind the importance of customizing relative the uniqueness of your company - And act on the feedback, prioritize based on the impact to determine the best path forward. Document an action-plan and keep it updated.Authenticity and transparency are the best elixir for discord, and or resistance - Having the best interests of your people means the business too.

5.   Hire

With Change re-evaluate job requirements and pivot to great hires.

Hiring is not an obvious priority and difficult to envision in this moment. Survival is driving decision deliberation for many firms, and even those companies that can afford to may have implemented a hiring freeze. The hardest-hit industries and sectors may be forced into reductions. At the least the business landscape has altered temporarily and people who execute the business strategy and altered models will be hired again. Companies halting their recruiting can:

•     Prioritize critical hires aligning talent and business strategy.

•     Re-evaluate job requirements as landscape dictates.

•     Pivot to highly targeted recruitment.

•     Look from within.

Each hire is always a highly important investment and essential to get right, but perhaps even more critical in this moment. A modernized method using data to truly understanding candidates, more rigorous vetting, interviewing and focus on personalities and behaviors and how they integrate with the established values and culture is vital. Hire from within to fill immediate gaps. Best practices - collect and use the data for all people hired from within and externally. 

Re-evaluate job requirements.

Action; Re-evaluate job requirements aligning to changing landscape.

A strategy pivot to hunker down in a downturn, stabilize and consolidate will likely mean absorbing multiple functions to fewer people to save money. The nature of that new hybrid role will have different demands. It’s immensely valuable to gain clarity about the behavioral requirements of the evolved job and use data to align best fit people.

Many roles will change from rightsizing necessity or significant changes in business strategy. If people are hired for organizational fit, leveraging them effectively is more likely- Understanding behavioral and cognitive job requirements and identifying the right person for that job leads to greater engagement and performance.

Recruit clinically for remaining open positions.

 Action; Recommit to your business uniqueness and organizational culture, purpose and value to resonate with like-minded talent

If fortunate enough to have remaining open positions candidate choices are likely to be rife- treading carefully is paramount. The risk of on-boarding poorly may be greater given the sheer number of applicants, their urgency, industry cross fertilization.

Demand is spiking for certain roles and services from streaming services to remote technology, Recruiters for those positions face a different challenge: an oversaturated candidate market. Eventually, business will move back to a normal recruitment cycle, (in a somewhat unknown timeline) and many will have to make strategic, high-reward hires for executives experienced in leading turnarounds.New roles, skills, knowledge and experienced candidates to fill positions created out of strategy pivots: new supply chain experts, digital transformation pros, enterprise architects, cloud migration experts, and so on.Eliminating as much risk as possible with these evolving hires is paramount to performance. A talent scarcity in role evolution is possible. With reduction in other industries and a narrowing scope of job opportunity a best practices process is advisable to be able to manage vast applicant numbers. As we emerge through the downturn, new businesses, strategies and business models will evolve to counter balance the downturn and mitigate future pandemics. Platforms, and technology will evolve to drive more effective testing, spatial distancing and any manner of other enterprising solutions to this problem space that clearly requires more effective Global management.

When recruiting selectively, and in competition for talent, how do you find the best possible person, from a vast number of resumes? numbers you have not had to cater to before? Take the opportunity to refine your hiring process. Arm leaders with a comprehensive talent strategy process, with tools and data enabling the firm to identify land and retain the top talent based on the right criteria, and aligned to business strategy. Collect data on candidates, not only regarding their resume but also team and cultural fit. Ensure core values are integral to all aspects of your culture and operations, including programs, hiring, training, and relations with the community. Make sure the values are core to your uniqueness and form the essence and character of the company, what you believe in that makes you different.That they underpin and help drive your success to support  organizational health driving talent engagement, informing and inspiring the clients you work with.

If you’re in the fortunate position of adding to your headcount, do so in a manner that will help you capitalize on market opportunity, with a person who will last long beyond this crisis.

Reorganize priorities according to new business conditions.

Action; Reorganize priorities according to new business conditions.

HR and or leadership teams can use this moment of inflection to develop greater efficiencies. That could mean:

•     Amend the interview process to incorporate broader participants

•     Improving the definition and communication of existing job requirements

•     Gathering additional stakeholder input

•     Identifying most effective process to collect and collate behavioral and cognitive needs

•     Prepare compelling job ads for post hire freeze

•     Review right documentation with pipeline candidates

•     Tighten and improve the recruitment process

Post- recession recruitment will be different as the demand, job types and surplus of candidate combine with a market rebound. More candidates, more risk requires more intelligent filtering - you still want the best person, so improve the process.

Over about 18months, approximately 8.7 million jobs were lost during the 2008 credit crisis.The national unemployment rate vaulted from 4.6% in January 2007 to 10% inDecember 2009, with resounding impact to the job market. Leaders and HR teams can expect a massive increase in resumes and applications when the market rebounds.

Higher volume requires modern talent management and optimization particularly when short-staffed. Implementing a scalable method of screening applicants is vital, and easy with a talent optimization platform that helps ensure people and business strategy alignment throughout business stages and lifecycles for a true competitive advantage and organizational health.

Ready to talk?

We're ready to listen. Unlock the true potential of your business today.

GET STARTED