Reuters reports this morning (Monday January 26, 2009) that the U.S. business climate is the worst in 27 years. The National Association of Business Economics‘ (NABE) quarterly industry poll found that the economic slump worsened in the fourth quarter and the majority of respondents expected gross domestic product to contract at a faster pace in 2009.
“The NABE’s industry survey depicts the worst business conditions since the survey began in 1982, confirming the U.S. recession deepened in the fourth quarter of 2008,” said spokeswoman Sara Johnson.
I’m not posting this to promote the gloom and doom news. I’m want to talk about how leaders … how you…must act now - to focus your organizations, survive and position yourself for the future.
First, remember while times are still challenging this is historical data. There will be an economic stimulus package out of Washington. While the details are being hammered out - we can hope it will address both the credit crisis and lending, as well as job creation and infrastructure.
Moreover, what we need right now is for business leaders to step up and lead the way. We need to hear from America’s top business leaders and get their voices engaged in the public discourse. Business leaders have a role in restoring public confidence. We cannot leave it all up to Washington.
In the meantime, what we need to recognize is in our own organizations, there is a “secondary crisis” of confidence. As we started New Year - looking ahead to the inauguration of President Obama in sight, most of us felt hopeful about a recovery, if not immediately, at least this year.
But the drumbeat of economic news — and the fact that we still don’t have a stimulus package is now creating a pervasive, sense of malaise in many companies that is going to take over if we don’t manage our own emotions and give people hope.
Pessimism and doubt threaten to undermine the very qualities within your organization that will speed a recovery – productivity and creativity. This is why now more than ever, business leaders need to get out front, and motivate and inspire their teams.
As a leader, you have no control over the credit crisis or the stimulus package but you can and must manage the motivation of your own team and keep people focused on what matters now. The biggest mistake many leaders are making at this moment– they are not communicating often enough with their own teams. You need to open up the channels of communication, even on a daily basis – by email, blog, through meetings let everyone know how they can help – and solicit their ideas. In crisis mode, executive teams tend to become insulated – instead they need to put more time on their calendars for communication and make sure they are in the loop with employees and customers.
While writing Motivate Like a CEO, what I saw in the interviews and research was clear - a motivated workforce is the key to building a strong culture that will survive the ups and downs of the economy.
What’s the biggest worry on the minds of your employees? They’re hearing that 1.9 million jobs were lost in the last four months of last year. The NABE report said job losses are expected to continue in the first half of 2009.
Even if you are still uncertain about what lies ahead:
Get out front with a positive message
Tell people what you know
Ask for their ideas - get them engaged
Focus your message on the most important things they can do
Communicate good news immediately, even if it’s small
Be honest about where things stand - don’t sugarcoat
Tell them you believe in them
Reward and recognize achievements
Today ONLY, I want to let you know that we have a 24-hour complimentary offering of gifts, if you purchase a copy of my new book, Motivate Like a CEO, Communicate Your Strategic Vision and Inspire People to Act!
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