Fast Company: Get Started Tips to Navigate Post-Recession, Pre-Recovery Flexible Downsizing

Last week we heard from Scott Jones, a senior executive who is grappling with how to respond to an uneven recovery in his business. A year ago in the heat of the economic downturn, Jones’ company used organization wide salary cuts and furloughs to reduce operating and labor costs in order to minimize layoffs.  Now as the recession sputters, and the recovery struggles to begin, the company faces hard choices.

How does he reset the organization’s flexible downsizing strategy to reflect post-recession, pre-recovery realities? What’s the best approach when the recovery isn’t strong enough to return to “business as usual,” but the support for a shared sacrifice seems to be waning?

To answer these questions, I went to two of the best change and innovation experts I know, Joanne Spigner and Donna Miller, who also happen to be my WLF consulting partners.  Here are our tips for managers to begin charting next steps:

#1: Go back and assess where you are.  Know where you stand in the business.

What do you really know about the business?  How do people really feel about the specific adjustments in salary and/or schedule that were implemented?  Is the shared sacrifice being questioned by a majority in all businesses, or is it coming from pockets of loud voices?  Get the facts on paper.  You do this by:

  • Not owning and solving the issue yourself.  Expand the circle of discovery.  Bring other leaders and high potentials across the organization along for the ride.  Compare notes and problem solve together.
  • Going wide and deep—Interview all business leaders, talk to a random sample of front line managers and employees, and conduct a survey.

#2: Once you have the facts on paper, reset the organization’s flexible response to match today’s realities. (Click here for more)