The Recession Seems To Be Behind Us But I For One Will Miss It!
September 26, 2013
So most of Europe’s economic KPIs are improving and real recovery is in sight but I for one will be sad to see the end of the recession! “Are you mad?” I hear you saying, so let me explain.
Before I do I should say that I am truly sorry for anyone that has been personally affected by the recession through redundancy or other factors. I have myself been made redundant in the past so appreciate exactly how you feel.
In my 30 plus year business career I have lived & worked through the recessions of the early 80’s and the early 90’s as well as this biggest and latest one. In the years leading up to each recession we had periods of economic ‘boom’. During these times many businesses and their people became complacent, lazy and wasteful, some even arrogant. Companies may have hit revenue targets with ease but at the expense of quality in terms of product as well as customer service and client experience.
A recession changes the above scenario and businesses must either quickly adapt, or they die (and many did/have). It always reminds me of the Darwin quote “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is those that are the most adaptable to change.”
Business focus in a recession is less on revenue and more on profit. Costs are scrutinised and reduced as lazy practices are eliminated. Management practices are examined and improved as we all asked to deliver more but with less people. A recession drives innovation and creative thinking as “necessity is the mother of invention” but in boom times “apathy is the mother of prevention”.
The big difference between the recessions of the 80’s and 90’s and the latest recession is this; In the past recessions one of the first budgets to be cut by everyone was always staff training but thankfully many businesses have now realised that at times of challenge, staff training & development is more important than ever.
Having said that more focus is given to the ‘return on training investment’ (ROTI) to be sure any intervention has a clear impact on business results. As a training business we welcome and encourage these measurements.
There is a real danger at the end of a recession that people breathe a collective sigh of relief and relax. Imagine a cycle race in a mountain section, the hill climb is incredibly tough but when summit is reached they don’t all dismount and sit on the grass for an hour! They continue to pedal even though the gradient is now in their favour. In some cases they reach incredibly high speeds only slowing for the bends. This is the approach that we need to adopt in our leadership and management roles post-recession and be assured the road is not yet in our favour, it has merely flattened out.
As Charles Darwin stated above, survival in the animal kingdom is reliant on an ability to change according to the environment faced. In business it is exactly the same. Businesses that had the foresight to prepare for the recession are the same ones that will have prepared for the end of it. Whereas those businesses that merely ‘battened the hatches’ and lay low, will be slow to emerge.