© Kenneth Buchholtz
It is evident that 2020 is still going to be a very difficult year for all businesses. What you need to do as Managers is to be prepared for the possible dangers the economic downturn could have in mind for your organisation, because being prepared is half the battle. There are a number of HR actions small and medium size companies can take to ensure they come up with the right solutions. Here are some actions you can take: –
- Plan – In difficult times an organisation needs to plan how to survive. The plan needs to address the following issues: how to generate new sales, where new customers can be found, which savings can be made, can production do things faster, better and more reliable, while cost reductions can be made, can we purchase our goods cheaper and can we do more with less people? The list is not complete and other issues can be addressed, however it is essential that the organisation has a plan which needs to be followed through.
- Communication – One of the most important things managers need to do in a recession is to keep communicating with their employees. Tell them what the plan is for the year and make them aware that you have a plan about what they need to do to make it successful. Silence is golden but not in this area! If times are tough you can’t barricade yourself in your office, you need to mingle, give employees confidence, encouragement and explain what is expected from each staff member. Tell staff about success stories. Think of what Barack Obama did in the US during difficult times and remember, ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish.’
- Manpower Plan – Prepare a Manpower Plan for your company in which you get the information which enables your organisation to respond quickly to the ever changing facts. An organisation needs to be able to identify the following items: the high potentials, you need and want to maintain in the organisation for future growth, the repeated underperformers, how many agency staff are employed, temporary employees, employees with less then one year with the company and employees with less then two years service with the organisation for whom redundancy does not yet apply. You need this information at your finger tips, either through a database or manually and you need to be aware of the dates when the situation changes for the aforementioned staff members. If necessary difficult cuts have to be made and the aforementioned information will be valuable if you need to let staff go. During any cost saving exercise always remain human in your actions, if possible help staff members to find their feet again and contemplate outplacement support services for the leaving staff members.
- Performance Management – If this has not been done yet it is time to bring in a simple yet effective performance management system in which every staff member knows what his department has to achieve in the next 6 to 12 months and what each employee has to achieve to keep his department and company successful. If you have a performance management system in place you need to review if it is still effective and if it is being used everywhere. Performance management is an important tool to get all employees focussed on what they need to do to make the company successful. Communication on what has proven to work and what doesn’t work is essential during these difficult times it is crucial that repeated underperformers are weeded out of the organisation.
- Training & Development – From your plan you need to distil what training is necessary and you need to be creative on how you train staff members in the new necessary skills either through on the job training by co-workers or through short seminars by more experienced staff members. Internal coaching of your high potentials by experienced managers is a cost effective way of ensuring development in difficult times. Try to keep even a small training budget because it will show that the company believes it has a future. The most important message is that the organisation is willing to keep investing in people as people are the biggest asset a company has. Furthermore, due to your investment in training and development you will be able to respond faster when the economy recovers again.
- Don’t let the media set the agenda – If you listen to the news every day you would despair and stop doing business immediately. Instead concentrate attention on positive business people helping each other. This will keep you motivated and will create positive feeling amongst you and others!
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