They say the recession is over. Do you believe it? Are you hiring yet? Is business really starting to take off? For the majority of you, I would guess the answer to those questions is still an emphatic NO! After all, unemployment is still hovering around ten percent. So, what now? Should we keep our heads down, maintain explicit expense control, hang on to our cash and not invest in business growth?  

The answer to that question is also an emphatic NO! Now is the time to sharpen our senses and look for those opportunities to grow market share, increase competitive advantage and leverage all the right things we accomplished during our restructuring and planning that got us through one of the toughest economic times we have faced in decades.

People Are The Key

It’s the employees that will allow us to leverage all the advantages we created by learning to run our businesses differently. Make no mistake, if you are reading this, you survived. You survived because you did things differently. You were analytical, cost conscious and recognized that it was time to refocus on best business practices. You fined tuned your team and average performance was not acceptable.

Recruitment - It's Time to Grow Again

Start recruiting the best available. But, remember, recruitment isn‘t something you do as soon as you have a job opening. Recruitment is a never ending process. Management team members should be recruiting all the time. It is not just the responsibility of the Human Resource manager. Every management team should have a bank of potential new employees based on contacts they have made over the course of several years.

Just because you are recruiting doesn’t mean you have to have an immediate job opening. Remember, you are looking for people that are already employed. Challenge your HR director to develop a recruiting strategy that includes the entire management team and holds them accountable. Perhaps an incentive can be attached to the strategy.  

I know of one President of a medium-sized company that carries a second business card that has the following printed on the back of it:  
“You seem to be the kind of person that would fit in well at our company. We are always interested in talking to individuals like you. If you are interested in a career change, Please contact Joe @ 111-111-1111. Please reference my name when you call.” 

How many times do you run into aggressive, inspiring, and hard working people on a day-to-day basis that would fit in well at your company? Waiters, waitresses, sales people, clerks at hotels, the list could go on. This could be a major contributor to your bank of potential new employees. Of course, you can’t overlook or ignore all the traditional recruitment methods. Your HR manager can outline those in your strategy.

Profit Covers Many Sins

I often state that “Profit Covers Many Sins.” Simply put that means that leaders struggle managing change while in the easy profit comfort zone as they prefer to avoid conflict, tough decisions and anything else that could upset the status quo. Leaders that find themselves in this environment are often jolted by crisis. I would bet this has happened to many of you. You have learned quite a bit during this tough economic period.  

Initial survival required immediate attention and urgency to solve the underlying issues causing the crisis. Economic crisis demands immediate attention by establishing contingency planning activities that include cost management and reexamination of “Lean Management Philosophies”.  

Effective leaders looked upon this situation as an opportunity to create a new business model that leverage the company’s competitive advantage and upgraded the systems, structure, processes andpersonnelwithin the company. As leaders, you were continuously looking for ways to uncover potential new employees who had the attitude and the skill set to perform up to your expectations. This is how you rebuilt your business model.

Leverage Your New Business Model

You had to create or at the very least refine your business model during the past two years of economic distress. Now is the time to leverage that new model and take advantage of the pending recovery to stay way ahead of the competition. It isn’t always easy to see how much you have accomplished by looking at statistics.

We often just focus on the long road ahead. By creating milestones set up in such a way that you can see results as you progress will help provide the needed momentum to keep going.  

Some leaders strongly shape their model by working in every aspect of the business and also from learning the business from the ground up. They always carry a strong desire to compete and win. The leader’s competitive instincts are generally tempered by personal humility and respect for the individual managers on their team. 

Listening skills and genuine interest in what is right for the business are key tools in building a consensus. Belief in the employees is a guiding principle in their leadership style. Leverage your new model by focusing on the following roadmap.
  • Maintain a unique sense of curiosity focused on opportunities
  • You must maintain a sense of history but seek innovation and creativity
  • You must have a sense of urgency
  • Communicate your clear & consistent vision that is unique and serving
  • Begin investing (even if it is with debt) to grow your business
  • Your team has created a strategic plan and you are holding them accountable
  • You seek to exploit opportunities
  • You Trust & Respect your employees
  • You create innovative initiatives – embracing change
Leadership is often measured by your ability to take action. Yes, sometimes that means shooting from the hip by taking “calculated” risk. It becomes a function of how fast you can analyze a situation, take action and make things happen. The more proactive you are, the more productive you will become. Now is the time to take action and reap the rewards of all the hard work you and your team did during these tough challenging times.

Go For It!