3 Ways to Help Employees Weather a Business Storm Cycle



Last Updated: Aug 1, 2017
It’s normal for your business to go through up periods and down periods. When you’re in a down cycle, employees can get worried about ir job security and jump ship. Here are three tactics you can use to keep your best employees happy during a downturn for your business. 

modern economy is in a constant state of change, which means businesses – large and small – must move quickly in response to market shifts.

Even strongest companies will cycle through good times and bad, says Dave Hopson, managing partner at information-technology consulting firm Triumphus and author of Surviving the Business Storm Cycle: How to Weather Your Business’s Ups and Downs.

Bringing out best in employees is a challenge at best of times. According to Gallup, only 32 of U.S. workers felt engaged in ir jobs in 2015 – which was a pretty good year for economy and business growth.

So imagine struggle of keeping best workers happy when business transitions through a down period.

And it will. Hopson says every business goes through four repeating phases: start-up, high growth (what he calls “tornado”), declining growth ( “avalanche”), and consolidation.

Picture employees sliding downhill in that avalanche, and you get idea: It’s up to a company’s leaders to m hold on, to turn inevitable transition period from exhaung to exhilarating.

How does a business leader manage that through possible layoffs and pay cuts or, at very least, major changes to processes that are used to get work done every day?

“This is time to ask some tough queons,” Hopson says. Who on staff is so tired and discouraged y can no longer do ir jobs well? Who has been moved outside of ir normal roles, and how are y handling ir new positions? Do y need to be moved back or not? “Once you’ve answered se queons, you can step back and take a more accurate look at your staff,” he says. “You’ll be able to add people where you need m – and remove people where you .” method to do this is quite simple. You perform a review of process and find where it doesn’t work anymore or that where changes have been made on fly. Following this, you can “fix” your process and n reassign your roles. Often businesses need external to do this as it is hard to see forest for trees.

If this is painful for you as a manager, think about how it is for staff members who have a lot less control over situation. “How you and your leadership team present change to your staff can make a world of difference,” Hopson says. Employees who involved in change and understand what’s going on demonstrate a more rapid recovery and may even perform better in end. Business leaders often fail to realize how staff s when outsiders and “best practices” are brought in to create new processes and workflows without involving those who do work. This is a recipe for disaster. Use process method described ae to mitigate this.

“If you introduce processes that staff members understand or haven’t learned, you’re going to slow things down rar than speed m up,” Hopson says. Invest in your people, he advises. Make sure y always have proper training and equipment. Involve m, y know ir job and where process needs . Keeping m involve will ensure you minimize resistance and will likely provide a much better process than any outsider could provide alone.

During consolidation period between high times and low times and back to high times again, a leader’s primary role is to rally those frazzled and frustrated troops.

“Make sure everyone understands you’re in midst of a normal process,” Hopson says. “And keep waving that flag so that no one gets discouraged.” Resist playing blame game or calling out leaders or departments where failures were most predominant. Remember, this is natural. Instead, focus on how you can make your people and processes scaleable so y are resistant to failures of previous cycle.

About Dave Hopson

Dave Hopson, author of Surviving the Business Storm Cycle: How to Weather Your Business’s Ups and Downs, (www.davehopson.com) is managing partner at Triumphus, which offers IT consulting services to companies from startup through exponential growth to IPO. 

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