The Key to Surviving the Downtimes
By Monica Wofford
paid attention to the trends in the market. At one time she could
almost stand on the side of the road with a sign that said “For
Sale” and she could make her quota. Things were no longer that way
and she, as well as others in her industry were now having to work
much harder and much longer to make even the smallest sale. In fact,
it seemed that many industries were feeling this trend and the
morale, attitude, and action of employees all over was reflecting
the apparent down economy. Everywhere she went people complained;
sellers were fearful of trying to sell; buyers were fearful of
making a big buy; and employees were hearing it from consumers
daily. Yet, as was the case in Linda’s office, all upper management
focused on was the numbers. There was nothing being done about the
extra hours she had put in or the extra follow through she had to
do, or the downright struggle she faced in psyching herself up to
come to work another day.
truth is our economy has shifted. It has gone back to normal some
would say. Others claim the GDP is still rising and job placements
are up, both good things. But when your staff starts to feel the
crunch and believe that things are bad, what do you think the impact
on your organization will be? Employees who feel their job is on the
line may give up caring what your business looks like. Employee
surrounded by negative customers or rejection day in and day out may
begin to believe all they hear and pass it on, accurately or
is now to help those who feel they have fallen, to get up. Change
the morale from “it’s all going down” to “we can turn things
around”. Your efforts don’t have to rhyme, but they may be the most
important thing you do to save your company, your department and
your employees from making a mad dash to the door for greener
pastures. If you feel your team has fallen… and doesn’t know how to
get up, try these steps:
the Troops: Much of what is begun as grapevine fodder in
organizations is a function of miscommunication. One look or one
memo can create an avalanche of damage control and attitude issues.
Rally the troops and openly discuss what is going on with your
business. What are the trends? What is affecting your business
economically? Why are you changing a product line or lowering or
raising prices? If they are a part of the process and have all the
information they need to know, employees are much less likely to
create their own answers to keep from feeling in the dark.
Refocus Training: Part of what helps an organization is training
to keep up with the new skills needed and new advancements made.
However, training is a 51 billion dollar industry and much of what
organizations offer is not what will fix the problem. For example,
time management training will not help employees overcome the fear
of continued rejection, which may be the real reason they are not
meeting their cold calling quota. A refocused training plan that
begins with a complete analysis of where the problems lie may incur
a slightly higher investment up front, but will leave you with
lasting results far after the downtimes have gone.
to Know Who They Really Are: Under stress, a key problem causing
element when the media tells us the economy is going bad, people
will reach for and use traits and behaviors that are not normally
utilized. If an employee shows an attitude problem when the stress
is high and change is frequent, but not when times are good, it is
possible that mere raised awareness will alleviate the problem. In
fact, one profile tool and 90 minutes in our business has been known
to clear up days and hours of work in what could have become a huge
HR issue. The awareness of what an employee does under stress will
help you and that employee to be more rational and productive, at
in an Outside Source: If you have children then you have seen
what happens when they ask you a question. You are just the parent
and cannot possibly have any validity. Yet if the neighbor or a
complete stranger provides the same answer you did to the same
question, that outside, unfamiliar party seems to have real insight!
The same is true in your organization. The voices of the familiar
faces loose their value over time and when an outside source comes
in and shares similar information in a different way, their
credibility is automatically greater. Bring in a consultant, an
advisor, or a trainer that you trust to diagnose and deliver a
solution to the problems that you are facing in these times.
Re-Motivate Middle Management: No one seems to suffer more than
those in the middle of any situation. Middle management, when times
are tough, gets it from senior levels in asking for more numbers and
better results. But, they also get it from the employee level in
complaints, attrition, or personal issues that prevent performance.
Give some thought to the middle managers in your ranks who could use
a little kudos, a little team spirit, and a little pat on the back
for frankly, being the glue that seems to hold it all together.
you believe times to be tough or just fine, the perception of those
you work with is the reality they face every day. What you do in the
downtimes shows character and strength and conviction of your
beliefs. It is easy to be happy and upbeat when things are good, but
who are you when the chips are down and how many people do you help
to pick up in the process. They say when you make it through the
tough stuff that it builds character, but you have to make it
through it to see all the new character you now have.
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