Leading in challenging times

Posted November 21, 2008 in Latest News & Insights

I just received a newsletter from a colleague at The McQuaig Institute on tips for managing talent during economic downturns.  Some good tips for any leader trying to make it through to the other side of this wild ride:

1.  Nurture Your Top Performers.  In the chaos generated by doing more with less, it is easy to get complacent about the level of engagement of your high performers.  They still need reassurance that their contribution and potential are valued.  The way you treat them (and other employees) when times are tough will be well remembered and rewarded when business improves.  
2.  Upgrade Your Talent.  A silver lining in an economic downturn is that there will likely be A-players available in the marketplace – top performers that you rarely see or cannot afford in times of growth.  While you are engaged in the unpleasant task of restructuring, it may be worth exploring the external market to see who is available.
3.  Give High Potentials a Stretch Assignment.  As your business changes to respond to the new market realities, you will undoubtedly create out-of-the-box projects and assignments.  Consider giving them to the high performers in your organization.  They are always looking for new challenges and need ways to make a contribution.  
4.  Don’t Low Ball New Hires.  It is very tempting to offer lower compensation packages to new hires.  There is pressure to trim budgets and they will probably not be receiving competitive offers.  This may backfire in the short term.  An employee who is being underpaid will be less inclined to over perform.  In the longer term, when the economy picks up, employees who feel they are undervalued will be the first to leave.

I’m looking forward to our upcoming PowerRoundtable Panel on December 2nd when I get to dive into this topic of leading through wild change.  Should be an interesting conversation!

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