Leading Your Workforce During an Economic Crisis

January 5, 2009

Leading Your Workforce During an Economic Crisis
by Greg Smith

In the weeks and months since the economy began heading into a tail spin, the workforce has been on an emotional roller coaster. 

Some people have fallen to terrible lows of fear, uncertainty, and frustration.  On and on it goes.  While no one knows the outcome of our current situation, one fact is indisputable: the out-of-control emotions and the financial condition of our employees will have a tremendous impact on worker motivation, employee retention, and productivity.

How can business leaders lead in the wake of this crisis?  No two people will respond to these events in exactly the same way.  Some may seem unaffected, others may exhibit out-of-the-ordinary behavior, and still others may react in dramatic ways.  Actions business leaders take today can help improve productivity, maintain motivation, and avoid a mass exodus of alienated employees when the economy turns around.

Dr. Edwards Deming said, "The aim of leadership is not merely to find and record failures of men, but to remove the causes of failures . . . to help people to do a better job with less effort." 

I received an interesting phone call from a concerned individual who works at a large IT company here in the U.S.  She started describing her current work environment.  She said, "The economy has changed everything here.  Management has started outsourcing.  We are all under the gun to cut costs and improve productivity.  If we don't, they said we could be the next to go.  Just a month or two ago, we had a tight work team.  We worked well together.  Now all that has changed.  Everyone is afraid to work with each other for fear they may look weak.  Everyone is angry and frustrated and no one wants to help each other.  What should I do?"

The change in the economy has put businesses under pressure to improve productivity.  Unfortunately, many have gone about it in the wrong way.  Management by fear and threats does not improve productivity.  It has the opposite effect.  It angers, alienates, and disenfranchises the workforce.  Fear and uncertainty revert people to the lowest level of needs--safety, security and self-protection.  Once at this level, it takes a transformational process to restore trust, develop innovation, and get people/departments to work efficiently with each other.

I am old enough to remember many downturns, recessions and economic changes.  Despite what some may say, I don't believe this is the "worst recession since the depression."  This too will pass.  Maintain a long term outlook.  Never take your eye off retention, even in these times.  How you treat your staff now could create a mass exodus when the economy does turnaround.  Don't jeopardize increasing your turnover rate and losing your top talent to the competition.

Copyright 2008, CYC International
This publication and the Navigator Newsletter is provided by Chart Your Course International.
Published by Greg Smith
Phone: 770-860-9464/800-821-2487, Address: 2814 Hwy 212, Conyers, GA. 30094
Sign-up for Greg’s Navigator Newsletter by visiting http://www.chartcourse.com/emailnavnews.htm

This information is brought to you by the
PHCC Educational Foundation.
Support the Foundation by making a contribution.

Board of Governors
Industry Partners

Annual Giving Campaign
Thermometer $97,252 Raised

Matching Gifts Provided By:
Insinkerator | Ferguson