Jan 12, 2009

Managing in Tough Times

In the video above, business consultant Ram Charan discusses how today's business leaders must approach the era of economic uncertainty and turmoil. Even in economic downturns, opportunities abound. At least they do for those managers and executives who recognize that the old rules of business have disappeared and keep their eyes peeled for openings in the marketplace. Here are some of my thoughts and suggestions:

1. Change your mindset
Money is tight. The markets are extremely volatile. And anxiety has reached the point where irrational decisions become knee-jerk reactions. Morale becomes harder to boost in such an atmosphere. Acknowledge to yourself and your team that the world has changed, and make the tough decisions to place yourself in a position to succeed. Says Dennis Carey, a senior partner at Korn Ferry International"You can't rely on a peacetime general to fight a war. The wartime CEO prepares for the worst so that his or her company can take market share away from players who haven't."

2. Get your financial house in order
Perhaps the biggest issue for companies right now is getting the funds necessary for growth. Only those with strong balance sheets stand a chance for survival, let alone success.

3. Make a move for market share
I've said that recessions are garage sales for the rich. Many have and will react by slashing costs across the board. But as the pie gets smaller and less nimble rivals are get weaker, a tremendous opportunity is provided business leaders to grow at the same time that others cut back. Don't wait. Be bold and aggressive in strategy, acquisition, and hiring.

4. Rethink your rewards system
Among the first to go in leaner economic times are employee benefits and rewards compensation. The result is lower morale, loyalty, and assertiveness. If you can't can't give staff more money, can you give them more power? Single out top performers and solicit their advice on how to improve performance. Offer employees flexible scheduling, or the opportunity to work from home. The key is high-value (for employees), low-cost (for employer) solutions.

5. Dare to innovate
Innovating can leave a business in prime position for a turnaround. Pfizer broke apart both its research and business units last year to help spur new ideas to make the company more efficient and more entrepreneurial. Deploy distributed innovation groups. Whirlpool dedicated an internal team to embed innovation as part of the core of the company's operations, which added more than $2.5 billion in worldwide revenue to the company's bottom line in 2007.


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September 13, 2016 at 2:53 AM