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Welcome to the October 2009 issue of Alignment Solutions! Here are this month's highlights:

  • I was quoted recently in a Wall Street Journal article that describes ways in which some companies are providing career counseling services to their clients during difficult times in order to build future customer loyalty. Click here to read the article.
  • Those who believe that their Human Resources (HR) and Information Technology (IT) functions or professionals are underutilized may find our upcoming teleseminar "Transforming HR and IT to Drivers of Business Success" of interest. To learn what major obstacles are holding these functions and professionals back and how to overcome the barriers to raising the organizational performance bar dramatically, I invite you to attend a teleseminar I'm hosting on Thursday, October 22nd. Click here for more information.
  • Are you wondering how your organization can "re-group" and operate effectively in the aftermath of massive budget cuts that left you with decimated workforces and customers who still expect you to get the work done? Given the overwhelming demand for help with coping with the new workplace realities, I am putting together a teleseminar series designed to provide practical tools and techniques to help you work effectively and minimize the consequences of the short-term, economic downturn-driven decisions. The series will begin in early November, so watch for an announcement shortly!

This month's theme is "employee engagement and retention during difficult times and beyond." During the past year, many organizations made decisions based on short-term considerations that resulted in cutting costs quickly and drastically. Often these cost-cutting measures included firing and/or furloughing large parts of the workforce. Without making any judgment about the efficacy of such short-term "fixes," the fact is that these actions now require leaders to address two urgent and related issues:

  1. How to keep remaining employees engaged and not burn them out.
  2. How to retain good employees when the economic upswing provides them with alternative job opportunities.

Short-term fixes often have unintended long-term consequences, and many people just don't know what to do next - literally. As a result, I find myself conducting workshops and advising clients about how to manage these consequences, many of which already have manifested themselves in forms such as employee burnout, abysmal morale, and low productivity. This month's articles address ways to mitigate the consequences of recession-related workplace decisions.

The Feature Article, "The Recovery 'Test:' Will Your Employees Stay with You When They Have Alternative Opportunities?," points out some of the long-term unintended consequences of short-term cost-cutting.

In "Eleven Ways to Retain Employees During the Upturn (and Keep Them Engaged Now)," the Business Solutions section lists eleven suggestions for creating environments that dramatically increase the likelihood that you will retain your best employees during the economic upturn and beyond. Coincidentally, these techniques will help keep them engaged now.

In the Personal Solutions section, "Eleven Ways to Keep Yourself Motivated During Difficult Times" tweaks the items on the Business Solutions list for use in one's personal life.

I invite you to visit my web site at www.BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com and my blog at www.OptimizeBusinessResults.com to find other articles and resources that may be of value to you and your colleagues. I welcome your feedback!

 

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The Recovery "Test:" Will Your Employees Stay with You When They Have Alternative Opportunities?

During the last year or more, thousands of organizations have responded to the economic downturn by slashing budgets and jettisoning employees. Most leaders viewed these reactions as necessary for survival. Those whose organizations did survive and now see the recovery in sight have to face the long-term consequences of their short-term "fixes." Those consequences, ironically, have to do with organizational prospects for long-term survival and success.

There is no doubt that the last year has been tough on workforces everywhere. In addition to people who lost their jobs or a significant part of their income through furloughs, the "surviving" employees have had a difficult time as well. Not only do they have to contend with heavier workloads and the possibility that they could be next, but often they feel guilty because they still have jobs while their co-workers don't.

Yet to be tested is what effect these actions will have on employee retention. That is, when the economy turns around and people have alternatives to their current jobs, will they stay with you or will they move on? A few surveys have indicated that over 50% of current employees plan to jump ship as soon as another one is close enough to board. And when people have alternatives, employers have to work harder to keep their best employees.

If you wait until those other ships are in sight, it will be too late: not only will you lose good employees, but you will be competing with countless other organizations for qualified replacements. Begin NOW to build or fortify a solid foundation of support so that you are able to retain your workers in the months ahead, and attract others as you begin to grow.

What are you doing to make sure your organization passes the recovery "test?"

 

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Eleven Ways to Retain Employees During the Upturn (and Keep Them Engaged Now)

The recovery "test" is a pass/fail assessment and consists of one question: Will your employees stay with you when the economy turns around and they have alternative opportunities?

How would your organization do on this test today? In case the answer is anything other than a resounding "We are 100% certain we will pass," here are eleven no-cost suggestions of what you can do NOW to increase the likelihood that you will retain good employees once they have viable choices again. As a bonus, these suggestions also will help keep your current employees engaged without burning them out.

  1. Lead decisively and instill confidence in your workforce. You cannot lead if you're hiding under the desk.
  2. Ensure that employees have reasonable workloads by setting priorities with and for them. Though it seems counterintuitive, productivity actually increases when we embrace the reality of doing LESS with less.
  3. Ensure that organizational processes and individual decisions are procedurally fair. Employees will accept negative outcomes IF they believe the rules by which they were achieved are fair.
  4. Support and nurture your supervisors so they can help employees be fully successful.
  5. Demonstrate daily that senior management really cares about employees. Create an environment in which people are respected and valued for who they are personally rather than for their job titles.
  6. Listen to employees. Provide varied and multiple opportunities for them to be heard, and show them that leaders take them seriously.
  7. Be empathetic. Give employees an outlet for expressing their anxieties and fears.
  8. Create an appreciative environment. Catch people doing things well and recognize their efforts as well as their successes and achievements.
  9. Help employees see that they have choices about how they experience their situations. Show them that they have more control than they think they do.
  10. Communicate early and often. Be truthful and as transparent as possible.
  11. Create a sense of community. Ensure that all employees see the organization's "big picture" AND how they personally contribute to its achievement.

 

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Eleven Ways to Keep Yourself Motivated During Difficult Times

Few would argue that the impacts of widespread economic uncertainty are very challenging on a personal level. Many of the techniques used in the workplace to manage the consequences of organizational decisions can be tweaked or used "as-is" to help individuals remain positive and motivated, both at work and outside of work.

Here are eleven things you can do to become or remain positive and motivated even during difficult and challenging times:

  1. Get out from under the desk; it will not protect you. Take decisive action, even if you aren't sure it's exactly the right thing to do.
  2. Ensure that you keep your "to do" list reasonable and realistic. Prioritize the list so that at the top are things that are critical and that no one except you can do.
  3. Create criteria for decision-making that enable you to feel that you are honoring your commitments and taking care of yourself. For example, take a hard look at those "should do" items on the list and ask yourself, "Says who?"
  4. Be kind to yourself. Support and nurture yourself first, then see how you can assist others.
  5. Define your value in terms of who you are personally rather than by external means of "validation" such as the job title on your business card. Expect that others will respect and value you for who you are personally. Conveying how you wish to be treated goes a long way toward ensuring people actually behave toward you as you have indicated they should.
  6. Create some "quiet" time for yourself. Check in and listen for what's going on internally. You know what's best for you, though sometimes it's hidden among the cacophony of daily life.
  7. Be kind to yourself and others. Start with yourself. (I know I am repeating this point. It's such a critical concept that it deserves to be emphasized.)
  8. Create an appreciative environment. Use positive self-talk. Catch yourself doing things well and recognize your efforts as well as your successes and achievements. Celebrate those times.
  9. Recognize that you always have choices about how you experience any situation. You have more control than you think you do, so use it. You can choose whether to be a victim or to make healthy decisions that help you move your life forward.
  10. Create your own supportive community. Keep in touch with the individuals there, rely on their wisdom, and allow them to help you.
  11. Create your personal "big picture" and use it as your touchstone. Having this vision in front of you quickly helps you put things in perspective, especially during challenging times.

 

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Date of Publication: October, 2009
Pat@BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com
www.BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com | 562.985.0333
Copyright 2009 - All rights reserved, Pat Lynch