So let’s make one thing clear. We’re on the road to recovery and the corner has been turned.
In the good times, organisations get flabby, comfortable and perhaps a little complacent but the recession provided an opportunity to get back into shape.
No matter how big or small your business is, the last few years have proved an ideal time to put right all the profligacy and excess from the boom.
And by excess I mean the likes of exorbitant hires that go wrong, launching products that wouldn’t be touched in the lean times, fuelling advertising and marketing campaigns with little regard for their ROI, expanding into territories that haven’t been researched or experienced, moving into expensive new buildings when maybe our staff could be working from home or entering ‘one way’ partnerships that go the wrong way.
We still stand in a transition phase where very few people will resist your changes, be it regulators, consumers, your people or managers; tough decisions need to be made and everybody knows that.
So never waste a good crisis. These are exciting times; don’t let the opportunity slip by to make all the positive changes you have been thinking about but have not been brave enough to implement.
Instead, far too many businesses have become obsessed with tactical cost-cutting, which is often not sustainable and has the corrosive effect of breathing low morale into the workforce.
From cuts in travel budgets to training and development disappearing, through to marketing budgets being slashed or IT development being stalled, everybody knows they are short-term measures and are false economies.
The real answer is to reinvent yourself. Start listening to your customers and frontline operators and you will immediately know what the real problems are and how they should be fixed.
And if that is step one on the road to recovery then step two is to act on that information.
The simple truth of the matter is that we were able to do so much more for our customers and our people in the recession than we could in the good times, yet so few actually did.
It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, we are all in the people business. If we can ‘ignite’ our people, then our people will ‘ignite’ our customers.
In the downturn we wanted to know that organisations cared about ME and MY custom and all of a sudden mass-personalisation was no longer enough; as consumers we demanded more and there is no turning back.
Yet recoveries are underpinned with confidence and still there are those that ask, “are we REALLY through the worst yet?”
The answer is yes and yes again, but to sustain it optimism must be a force multiplier. The most lethal combination in the world is a pessimist and a recession.
Those that came out of recession first were those that believed and acted like they can – they naturally went towards an opportunity, praised their people and kept marketing aggressively.
But it’s not too late for those that have only just started to stand tall once more; the time to make those changes in be bold is now.
After all, businesses get the recovery they deserve.