Monday, July 22, 2013

When Sales Take a Dip

3 basic HR tips for today’s CEO


If revenues have decreased recently, you, as CEO, have had to tighten the belt in a number of areas including asking your team to do more, while keeping wages the same or even reducing hours.

No one is certain as to when and how the ship will right itself, but it’s critical that business owners and CEOs be proactive when it comes to the way they manage internal people issues during this period.

The tendency is for companies to hunker down and wait out the storm (“At least the employees have their jobs (for now), and when things get better we can look at doing something to improve their lot in life.”). While that kind of attitude may be prevalent, it is short sighted in that CEOs can’t assume that employees will even be able to maintain the current level of output indefinitely. Experiments on laboratory animals have proven that stress alone is enough to kill most animals, let alone the employees of your typical company. What can be done? Let’s look at some suggestions to de-escalate the stress levels at your company.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

In times of elevated pressure, rumors run rampant. News is always interpreted in the worst possible light, and employees can become sullen and uncommunicative amongst themselves and with customers. What is the state of your current communication with employees? Are you having regular meetings, sending out a newsletter, posting goals and objectives, and rewarding even modest achievements? Enthusiasm is infectious, and so is depression. Which one is spreading fastest at your company?

Show Appreciation

What has the company done to recognize the "above and beyond" contributions of the workforce? Employees that step up and pick up the slack created by reduced headcount and reduced budgets will respond to recognition for their efforts. Fostering a teamwork attitude with something as simple as lunch or gift cards can go a long way to bring employees together. Have your employees vote on an "Employee of the Year" and recognize the winner in a newsletter and with a prime parking space and an extra week of vacation. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective.

Lead With a Positive Attitude

Remember when your mother told you to smile and try to get along with people? That was great advice that applies to CEO leadership even today. The attitude from top management carries over into many parts of the company whether we want it to or not. Are your managers yelling and screaming to get things done? When upper management walks the aisles, is the atmosphere casual and relaxed or do employees know that someone is going to suffer when the walk around is over? Make sure that your employees know that everyone is in it together, and that the company will eventually prevail.

It's easy to focus on the day to day struggle and lose sight of how important the people that can make or break your business are. Until business normalizes and growth continues again, companies must find ways to keep employees engaged or they risk losing excessive time and money in a business environment that is as competitive as ever.

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