Thoughts on Leadership is the brain child of Paul Bridle. This is the place that Paul shares his monthly thoughts.

Recessions Not Over Until the Lessons Are Learnt

Posted: June 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

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Recessions Not Over Until the Lessons Are Learnt

Welcome to another thoughts on leadership. This month I want to talk to you about this economic turmoil that we’ve been through. However, many will say that we are heading for a double dip. And before we go any further, this months thoughts on leadership is going to be a good question for you to think about. And it is this; the recession is not over until we have learned the lessons.

Have you learned the lessons? There are a couple of lessons that I am talking about here. First of all, how did you go about dealing with the situation when you knew that the recession was starting? A lot of people did ‘knee jerk stuff’. A lot of people immediately went into slashing and cutting and all the rest of it. I am not saying those are the wrong things to do but I’m saying that there is a balance you need and I will come back to that.

Also, as you developed through the recession, what have you done? What are the mistakes you have made? And have you taken the time now to learn from those mistakes?

There is no point in going through all of this if we don’t take time to reflect and identify, what did we learn? What would we do differently? And if there was another recession, or if this is going to be a double dip, what would we do next time?

So, reflect from the beginning on the way you, your management team, the people around you, reacted and started to think about.

Think about the decision making process you went through. Think about your approach to the whole thing. Was it very defensive? Was it very baton down the hatches and lets just see if we can survive? In other words go into a survival mode? Or, did you balance it correctly?

So yes, we have to baton down the hatches. Yes, we may have to make cuts. And the recession is a great time; as I have said many many times over the last couple of years, it is a great time to get rid of some of those projects that you have been playing around with that were not in line with your business. But think about how you went through the decision making process of dealing with that.

Did you handle it well? Could you have handled it better? Did you balance the cutting back, with planning, and how you were going to deal with things going forward?

Let me give you an example of what I mean. A lot of organizations went about firing, reducing the head count, getting rid of what they thought was excess people. But the way they went about it, has meant that those that remain in the business are very unnerved by the approach that the organization took. So they are now sat there going ‘hold on a minute’. ‘I have to sit with this company because I don’t want to loose my job, I can’t afford to loose my job’.

But you know something? Now coming out of it they are starting to say, ‘this is not a very good place to work, if we go back into another recession, maybe I’m going to be on the chopping block’. ‘I want to work for a company that values me’.

So how did you go about cutting back? Did you involve people in some of the cutting back that needed to take place. I am not only talking about jobs, I am talking about some of the procedures and processes and things that you had to stop doing. Did you involve people in these discussions? Did you get their ideas? As a lot of the savings you can make in your organization, will come from your people. The more you are involved in that process, the more they will feel this is a great place to be and genuinely work at coming through it. However, more importantly, when we come out of it, then they will commit to the organization.

Just go back to that early stage and think about it. In addition, think about how you have dealt with some of the problems through the process. Were you slow in your decision making? Did you take too long, or were you more decisive? These are important things, you need to reflect, and learn. Were there some members of your management team who were better than others? What can you learn from that whole process?

So this months questions are:
Have you evaluated your own performance, you as the leader and your organization. How did you deal with the planning for the recession and how did you go about doing it? What would you do differently? If you were able to relive this whole thing again, go back in time and relive it, what would you have done differently? More importantly, heaven forbid, but if we are running into another recession, then what are you going to do this time? You don’t want to waste that opportunity as well, but you also want to rise to it. Bear in mind that some of the greatest businesses have started in recessions. More ideas, more businesses, have been generated coming out of a recession, coming out of difficult times, than out of easy times. So, what are you going to do? How are you going to gear your organization going forward if there was another recession?

One of the great things you can do is go back and learn the lessons from the last couple of years.

Have a great month and see you next month.


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