Surviving in a recession – we must change our thinking
In the last six weeks I have been fortunate enough to be asked to talk to entrepreneurs and managers in Iran, in South Africa, and also in UK.
In all three I have been asked about my thoughts about the recession, whether or not it has reached its worst level, and what is the best way to protect businesses.
My advice tends to be the same wherever I am.
Plan for the worst to happen , and just pray that your planning proves to be too pessimiistic and unnecessary.
I am not being a doom monger, but I am astonished how many businesses of all sizes appear to still be believing that everything will work out all right in the end, and have not made any contingency plans for drastic changes.
In my own business, we have told our team we can no longer guarantee any jobs, although we will work as hard as humanly possible to generate income sufficient to keep our fantastic team employed.
HOWEVER, this is only if we see reciprocal effort from our team.
There is no longer room for passengers in any business, and certainly not ours. Some of my team seem to think – ah well Michael has warned us before and everything has turned out right in the end, so maybe we should not worry too much this time – they just are not living in the real world and certainly not thinking differently.
One of the things that really drives me mad, and I think this reflects on the types of attitude I hope to see changed, are people who take time off for the slightest cold or minor illness. One of the best measures we ever introduced was to reinforce to our team that they will not get paid if they take any time off ill. This was an unpopular move, but drastically reduced absenteeism through illness.
I recently was speaking to a firm of solicitors who are having to plan their costs and income budgets very carefully. I impressed on them the need to change their thinking and their team thinking, and not only reduce salaries but also any unnecessary benefit payments like sickness. They argued that they were proud of their moral approach, and did not want to change their ways.
I applaud this moral attitude, and can only hope that this is appreciated by their team members – though the cynic in me really questions whether this ever happens in practice.
Too many times I see businesses offering so many days sickness to their team who surprise surprise take their full entitlement as though it is additional holiday.
In this recession, businesses cannot afford to be this generous, and they will die if they do not change their thinking.
After all – what about the people who never take time off ill? They never get paid any more, so why do we pay people to be sick?