Every morning, it seems, you read an article in the paper about layoffs at another company. Those layoffs are hard on the people who get laid off, but they are also just as hard on the people left behind. There is more work to be done and fewer people to do it. There is the lingering fear that more layoffs might happen or that the company might close altogether. Here's what you need to know to survive in this business climate, both as a manager and as an employee.
As an employee
Your employer believes that you are good at what you do. You are valuable to the company and its plans for the future. That's why they kept you and not someone else. They believe you are capable of producing more, or better, work than others. To survive in this climate every employee must look out for the Company's interest as well as there own.
- Figure out what's important and to do that. Work on what's important not merely urgent.
- Recognize that there is not enough time to do everything. You have to do more, but don't expect to be able to do everything.
- Find better ways to do things. Streamline and simplify. There isn't time for a lot of things that people used to do before.
- Be positive. This is a tough time for everyone. No one has time for negative energy. No one needs to be reminded of how things used to be.
- Be realistic. Even if you and your remaining co-workers do everything you can, the company may still be overwhelmed by external forces.
As a manager
Obviously the survival skills for all employees apply to managers as well. You also need to work on what's important; to streamline and simplify. Be positive. Be realistic. Here's what else you need to do as manager to help your group survive in this climate.
- Provide leadership. Now more than ever your people need you to tell them what's really important. Help them understand how their new role fits into the company's overall plans.
- Find ways to reduce the workload. There simply isn't the bandwidth anymore to do things that aren't absolutely required.
- Coordinate with other departments to ensure that your department's streamlined procedures will still give them everything and they need to do their jobs. Make sure their streamlined procedures still give you and your people everything you need to do your jobs.
- Cut them some slack. Don't reduce your quality standards, but be reasonable in what you expect from your people.
- Help them cope. Each of your people is an individual and has to deal with this new climate in their own way. Some may have questions. Honestly answer those that you can. Some may need to talk. Give them a little time to vent if they need it, but get the conversation moving forward as quickly as possible.
- Take care of yourself. Don't try to be a superhero. Do everything you can to help the company survive and advance your own career, but don't kill yourself in the process.
In the end
This business cycle will turn around. The recession will end. Before long you will once again be spending a lot of your time trying to find and hire good people. If you do things right now, you will have a solid core team going forward. Your streamlined procedures and your focus on the important things will help your company be even more profitable going forward. You will have done your job as a manager in a very tough business climate and done it well.