Monday, October 19, 2009

So you think you survived the recession?

As governments around the world begin to announce that the ‘corner’ is about to be turned and that the worst of the recession is over, you would think it a good time for organisations to breath a sigh of relief and relax a little. Lets face it, a number of your companies have gone and some businesses will have seen competition disappear.

But before you break out the champagne its maybe time to take stock and ask ‘how good a shape are we in?’ Here are four quick “health check’ questions that you may want to ask of your business or your team, however big or small.

Body Mass Index
A lot of businesses survive recession by cutting. Taking out staff numbers, reducing spending, stopping maintenance etc. If this goes too far this can leave you without the right people to take advantage of the opportunities that will now present themselves, with plant/equipment downtime just as you need it or systems that are more out of date than the competition. Sure, you had to do this to get through the bad times, but don’t ignore the choices you had to make. If you made them for good reason you knew the possible impact that they had. Now is the time to look hard at those choices and see what you will need to do in the coming months to get back in to shape so you can last in the long run. Of course if you didn’t take the opportunity to look at the shape of your business and get clear on what is core for your organisation you may be unhealthily slow to recover and need to shed a few kilo’s just as everyone else is getting in the starting blocks!

Those that survive hard times often do so because they have improved the agility of the organisation. Often rules are relaxed to allow opportunities to be taken. Bureaucracy and red tape are trimmed while people are encouraged to ‘go-get’. There are two sides to this as times improve. One view would be that you want agility at all times, and the other would be that too much agility means increased risk (shortcuts, compliance, not checking etc.). If you’ve learnt to be agile, you may have tested your old rules and systems to see what you really need to run your business and now you know what the new rules for the organisation should be. Before you put back the old constraints it is a good time to test what you might have learnt.

During good times it is easy to lose focus on what is core to the business by picking up whatever come the way of your business because they represent an opportunity to make a bi more profit. During leaner times you need to be really clear on the focus of your business or team to maximise what you are really good at, and where you can succeed in the marketplace. Did you use the recession as an opportunity to tune up your eyesight and get a focus on where you can succeed in the marketplace?

Blood Pressure
How have the people in your organisation come through the last year? I’ve heard from people who are covering two jobs and doubling their travelling! and others who have been doing very long hours. Is everyone coping? are they tense or overstressed? People who are tired, worn out or stressed tend to ‘just get by’ and lose their sharpness. At the very worst they start dropping off with health issues just as you need them to be fighting fit. If they’ve lost their vigour it may be time to re-motivate them or it may be time to take a look at the working hours habits that they have built up for you in the bad times. If you want to be healthy in a year’s time, nows a time to check the pulse and see if its strong!

We'd love to hear your ideas on a health check list for teams/organisations that are coming out of the marketplace!