Part I – Are you set to take advantage of current economic slowdown?

Are you set to take advantage of current slowdown?

Have you started feeling the pinch of economic slowdown? If not, then you are lucky because many businesses across sectors in India such as travel, construction and retail are already experiencing sluggish business. Many organizations, which till a few months back were expanding their infrastructure and hiring fresh talent to take care of increased business activities, are worried about how to sustain if the situation deteriorates further. Needless to say, it’s easy to feel gloomy and negative about the immediate future.

However, if you are among the few who are viewing the slowdown from a perspective of taking advantage of it, then this article might give you an idea or two to work on.

In past, companies have successfully taken advantage of slowdowns by hiring great talent from other companies at bargain prices and/or by cutting flab in their own organizations. While you should definitely look at these strategies, your initiatives shouldn’t be restricted to just these. Along with these, there are additional people related initiatives that winning companies have undertaken in previous slowdowns and which I believe could yield rich dividends for your business too.
Today, I am going to share 5 such initiatives which have been proven and tested over time. Further, the cost of implementing these is minimal or, in many cases, nothing.

1) Revisit your organizational competency requirement.

During the boom time, it is hard for many businesses to spare time to deliberate on organizational core competencies and find out whether they are in sync with future market requirements. A slowdown can provide time as well as compelling reasons to re-check organization’s standing in the market terms of knowledge, skills and offerings. Finding your organizations competency requirements can help you address skill gaps versus future opportunities, increase competitiveness by focusing on areas of strengths as well as help open up new product/service lines.

2) Cracking down perennial bottlenecks.

Creating a task force compromising of top performers from main areas in the organization (such as a production, finance, marketing) to weed out bottlenecks is next to impossible during normal business environment due to work & time pressures. Economic slowdown is an excellent opportunity for formation of such a team for
cracking down perennial bottlenecks. This task force can also be used for bringing improvement in existing processes thereby improving efficiency in operations.

3) Identification of ‘real’ star employees.

Warren Buffet’s quote “When the tide goes down, you know who has been swimming naked.” applies aptly here. During boom times, it is difficult to gauge whether the employee’s success (particularly that of Sales people) has been majorly due to market conditions or his/her own competency. However, a slowdown will enable you to witness employee’s real skills and competencies in addition to their leadership qualities. Needless to say, such opportunity can help you pick and choose future leaders of the organization.

4) Improve the service standards among the internal customers

Service standards set for the internal customers reflect on organization’s products or services. During slowdown, spare time can be used to improve internal service standards. Improvements can be carried out with very little monetary resources by using internal trainers to improve various work related (hard) skills and people related (soft) skills.

5) Set a reputation for good work environment

During good times, creating a reputation for work environment is a costly and resource intensive process. However, during slowdowns expectations for ‘good’ work environment are a lot more relaxed. Even simple initiatives such as sharing vital information about how the management is tacking the slowdown and periodic interactions with employees make a great impact on employee morale and make their daily work experience positive.
Employees remember the way organizations treat them during challenging business environment. So, such initiatives not only pay rich dividends in terms of increased performance but also in attracting top talent when the times get better.

In conclusion, you should use all the spare time during the slowdown to improve your organization so that it is much stronger, focused and competitive when we emerge from the other end of the slowdown. The above mentioned techniques will help you achieve just that while conserving your precious monetary resources.

So then, how is your organization set to take advantage of the current slowdown? Please let me know your thoughts by commenting below.

Comments

  • Great points. Such initiatives are not typically thought about by many companies.

    Pooja AgarwalAugust 28, 2013
  • Shining side of the gloom !. However you can also be at receiving end since poachers can be at you !!.

    Good reading and insightful.

    Bharat RautAugust 28, 2013
  • Very good article & come timly.
    I would like to add one more point.
    Organisation should do benchmarking of internal processes with respect to compititors as well as similar players in the industry. This will give lot of improvement opportunities & to get edge over compititors.e.g. ration like manufacturing cost of Product, service network, features etc.

    Dilip ChuriAugust 28, 2013
  • Yes! Along with Manpower and skills improvement, it is also a time to improve company assets like machinery etc.
    Excellent wake up call for the slowdown period.

    Regards

    Manish TikleAugust 28, 2013
  • Interesting Ideas !

    AnonymousAugust 29, 2013
  • Interesting ideas to become competitive internationally.

    Sanjay RautAugust 29, 2013

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