No one is safe in an economic downturn. Clouds of uncertainty loom large over the industry and ultimately – in every individual’s mind.
In times of physical danger, your senses help you pick up warning signals in time. They can work, just as great, as
self-defence mechanisms in the corporate environment. Tune into your senses and safeguard against the brewing – or as some would argue, raging – storm of recession!
1) The Walls Have Ears
The organizational grapevine is the perfect place to hear the viral gossip that can act as an early warning system. Staying connected and well-networked with colleagues is handy in such circumstances, to ensure that you are not caught unaware when change is in the air. However, don’t take rumours at face value. Maintain a balance between people’s views and your own judgement – rumours might be just that at the end of the day.
2) An Eye on Sales
Keeping an eye on corporate sales figures tell you how well your employer can address the downturn. Contrary to popular belief, not every company is equally affected, as the company’s innate strength rests heavily on its vision and strategic planning for the times ahead. A strong top line also indicates the agility and resilience a business needs to emerge from a downturn and safeguard stakeholder interests through short-term recessionary turbulence. If sales and profitability are holding, then maybe one can relax for a bit. If not, then be on your toes.
3) Can You Smell the Industry Trends?
Factor in industry trends: major contracts, tenders, joint ventures, mergers & acquisitions amongst key players, and most importantly, the hiring outlook for the industry. These can quickly help one judge whether it is just an internal bump or a bigger external wave that can sweep across the industry. The importance of the industry to overall economic development also indicates how hard hit it will be in the trough of a business cycle. Industries like real estate, lifestyle and retail tend to be worst hit.
4) Get a Taste of Government Regulations
Keep yourself updated on changes in policy-making and their implicit or explicit impact on industry and your organization. Major conventions, industry meets, and trade-commerce gatherings should interest a recession-cautionary employee. An active presence in industry gatherings can put you in touch with expert speakers who decode the mixed impact of policies and regulations on industry, while powering your personal & professional network.
5) Sense the Atmosphere
Not all the problems of a company are articulated, and the grapevine is not always right. Don’t miss out when there is a change in behavior of your colleagues or bosses. Small cues dropped during informal breaks and meetings can carry a wealth of meaning. Being left out of an important meeting could be a genuine oversight, or it could signal the need to ask yourself a few tough questions and go in for honest self-evaluation on where you stand, relative to the internal and external competition.
And if the storm is for real, just roll up your sleeves and put in extra hours, upgrade those skills and pro-actively manage relations. Most importantly, believe in yourself; know that you can and will make a way. Keep your head up and the clouds of the downturn will be down – beneath your feet!