When businesses feel the need to tighten their belts, it can be tempting for employers to look to sharp, quick fixes and cuts as a remedy to their financial challenges.
Cutting staff can be a way that many businesses deal with the strain of overheads, but it can also come with major risks.
However, it is important for businesses to take a longer-term view and ensure they retain and motivate their key talent.
In the current market conditions, businesses are having to rely on their key members of staff more than ever. As organisations are downsizing, cutting costs and freezing hiring the key members of staff are crucial to business success, and even business survival in some cases.
However, what plans do companies have in place to retain, motivate and inspire their key members of staff? Or are many organisations taking those members of staff for granted? The staff who seem to have been around forever? The members that have been ultra-reliable, we count on and put a lot of faith in?
These are the people who have been working harder than most for a long time. The people who put in additional hours when necessary without question. The people you can leave to handle situations when you’re away from the office. The people who you can rely on to give you an honest assessment of the establishment and what’s going on.
Yet these are the people who often get overlooked or taken for granted. Therefore disillusioned, they lose motivation, their desire to work hard and start looking for other opportunities. Not the best result from some of your best staff.
So who are your key members of staff?
For some people it’s the head of their accounts department or credit control, which keeps late-payers in check and the cash flow where it should be. For others it’s the top salesperson that outperforms all the rest and brings in large amounts of profit to the organisation. It could also be the head of the admin department or office manager that keeps things running smoothly for your establishment.
Now, more than ever it’s important to motivate, inspire and retain those key members of staff to ensure business efficiency, productivity and profitability in these uncertain times. So how does your company measure up?
So how can we identify the key players?
As the market gets tougher, the key players in your team might well be different than the key players in the past. So how do we identify the key players now as well as the likely key players in the future? As businesses change and adapt to the market, it becomes increasingly difficult, but you can accomplish it with a simple exercise.
Exercise: Get out a pen or pencil and a blank sheet of paper. I want you to imagine you’re starting the business again today – that you were starting an organisation designed to succeed in today’s market. Plan an organisational chart of what the business would look like, with the key positions in it. Now step back and have a look at it. How different is it from the company you have now?
If you were to fill in names for those positions on the chart, who are the key players? The essential ones you couldn’t do without? Are they different than who you view as your key players today?
As businesses re-engineer themselves and their offering in the current market, it means that the key players may change or certainly to adapt. Are your team on board with the changes? How do they feel about it? Can you rely on them to deliver under a new structure?
Motivating and leading the team
In these tough economic times, people need leadership more than ever before. As a leader, people will look to you for direction, motivation and inspiration. If you’re implementing any changes in the business, you need the buy-in of your staff members, and particularly your key players for the changes to succeed and stick.
Many change management programmes have failed because it failed to get the key players on board, who prefer things the way they were – and the longer they have been in the business, the more they prefer it the old way.
You need to sit down with the key players and staff members and discuss the changes, the reasons why changes have to be made and what you’re trying to achieve, and get their buy in to the new proposed process. Failure to undertake this critical step properly could lead to people sabotaging the project or stiff resistance at the very least.
Setting up and managing the perfect team
If you’re planning on setting up a new team, or re-engineering the business and the people within it, you have a great chance to take a fresh look at the business and set up the perfect teams within it.
So what does a perfect team look like? What is it made up of, particularly one designed for success in the current market conditions?
Right now you need people who are pro-active, that will do things without you having to prompt them or stand over them to make sure it happens. You need people that are determined to make things happen and see things through. You need people that are on your side, that you can rely on to perform, no matter how adverse the conditions.
Nowhere is this more important than your sales team. Your sales team are always an important part of your business, but now they’re more important than ever. They have a direct influence on your profits and the potential survival of your business in the current climate.
So right now, who are the members of your sales team that are regularly demonstrating the traits mentioned above? They’re going to be facing more objections from clients than ever before – things like ‘we’ve got no budget’, ‘things are on hold for the moment’ and ‘we need to get a few more quotes’ – and these are from clients that would have ordered without looking to closely at it a few months ago.
They’re also going to be facing more objections and rejection from new business prospects than ever before. There are going to be more competitors in for every deal. More projects are going to be cancelled and more companies are going to be closing their doors than ever before. How are your sales team placed to cope? And how are you supporting them differently than before?
You need to work on your sales team and their attitude, skills and abilities more in the current market than previously. To ensure their sales skills stay sharp. To make sure that they can display tenacity, determination, resilience, self-motivation, confidence and all the successful traits associated with top sales people.