Over the past few years companies were growing by leaps and bounds, hiring anybody that could fog up a mirror, and projecting growth out to infinity. Many managers and leaders took credit for heights achieved by their organizations, when the real driver was just a rising tide. Now when the companies are taking a beating, magically the cause is not their leadership but a tanking economy. But hey, that's what most managers will do. Take credit and assign blame.
So lets assume that you are one of the small group of managers who are not in the general category of manipulative weasels. What do you do in these tough times?
Fuck if I know.
But I can tell you what not to do.
- Do not delay decision making: Take a hard stand and go for it. Need to cut headcount? Need to cut spending? Don't pussyfoot your way around the bush for weeks on end while your company bleeds cash, and your employees are distracted by rumors of impending doom. Do it already. In the same vein, if you need to spend some money on your infrastructure, go for it. Don't delay the decision because of the economy. Even though you report your earnings to those evil analysts on wall street every quarter, you should hopefully have realized by now that you are in business for more than 3 months. IF anything delaying spending is worse than delaying spending cuts. Especially in these times. Grow a set of balls, make a decision, and then execute.
- Do not get bogged down: Even if you're making unpleasant decisions, stay firm and stay upbeat. Nobody likes a sullen manager, and this is not the end of the damn world. And don't walk around like this whole thing is your fault. You're not that important. Smile. You have a job to do, and if you're doing it well, you deserve to smile. (Unless you're one of those investment banker types that was dealing in mortgage backed securities or convertible debenture structured provident gastronomy thingies or whatever)
- Do not forget the uptick: It will come. Don't bet on when it will come. The pundits forecasting the turning point are all more wrong than the idiot on acid who writes the daily horoscope column. You do not know when it will come, but it will. And when it does, it will blow your socks off. The economic cycles feel like a roller coaster ride in reverse. The downturn feels like the slow dragging ride up the hill. The uptick will feel like the hair raising rush of speed you get on the way down. Prepare for it. Keep your employees (the ones that remain - hopefully the better ones) motivated, trained and ready to kick ass.
- Do not forget the downturn: This is the one you wont listen to. The uptick will come, and 3 months into it, you will relapse into excessive partying, unnecessary travel, inefficient hiring, bloated raises and irrational effervescence. You will forget how you managed your expenses in the bad times. You will forget how you made your operating assets work that little bit harder. This is hubris. Just try to remember that the bad times will be back, and retribution will be had.
- Do not get sell your stock: Of course, I'm assuming that you own stock in your company. And I'm assuming that your company is healthy enough to last the downturn. But selling your stock now, if you haven't already sold it a year ago is the worst thing you can do. Hang on to it for a year or so.