Working with the GFC (or…enough of the doom and gloom please!)


Some things are bigger than the GFC...

Some things are bigger than the GFC...

When’s the last time you turned on the radio or TV and didn’t hear another Global Financial Crisis report, or got together with friends or colleagues, and the GFC didn’t enter into the conversation at some point?

The worst thing about the GFC is that it’s making us all fearful, and overwhelmed by a sense of impending doom and loss. Will you lose your job, your house, your shirt…? How long will it last and how bad will it get?

We react by tightening our belts and hunkering down to wait it out – all the while, feeling a deep sense of scarcity.  But is that really the way to go?

Perhaps it’s time we started to live a life of abundance – in the Zen ‘I have enough, I am blessed’ sense of the word, not the ‘live to excess, pay later’ perspective.

Because the more we feed that sense of scarcity, the tighter those belts get (and not in a good way). Pretty soon the anxiety is cutting through us, and our productivity is dropping as fast as our optimism. 

US company TNL Marketing puts it to their clients this way: “Tighten your belts too much and you may lose your shirt”.

Think about it… if you are cutting back and back and back in your business, you may end up with very little left or with such dramatically dimished capacity – and vitality – that you might as well shut your doors.

Find a better way…

The GFC presents an opportunity for all of us. It is a time to reflect, to innovate, and to clean up our act a bit. Here are some ideas (feel free to add to them via comments!)…

For business

  1. Repackage your services. What can you offer your clients or customers that is fresh and fills a need?
  2. Instead of cutting out your internal or external newsletters altogether, offer them as e-newsletters. You’ll save on printing while still keeping in touch – and they’re easier to manage than you think. But remember that print and online newsletters appeal to different audiences and convey information differently, so weigh up the real ‘cost’ before you decide…
  3. Revisit your communication and marketing plans (You do have them, don’t you?), and make sure you add social media to the mix
  4. Take this opportunity to get your business systems up to scratch. Not only will it make your business more saleable, it also captures the knowledge you and your people carry around in their heads. Tacit knowledge is the most valuable asset your business has to offer, and yet it’s usually the last thing many businesses think about.
  5. Review your business plan. Do you have SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-conscious?
  6. Get your team together and have some fun. Get out of the office, organise a lunch or Friday Unwinds. Now, more than ever, you and your people need to have open dialogue in a relaxed atmosphere.

And for you…

Don’t forget to live a little in your personal life too. You can have a lot of fun and still be cost efficient, you just have to be a bit more imaginative.

Most importantly, take the lead. Don’t let conversations turn into wallowing and negativity. Now is the time to put positive thinking into practice – or as one of my dragonflyologists says “seek out ‘salute to the sun’ positions” (it’s okay…she’s kidding).

There are many ways to live simply and do business more efficiently. So live a life of abundance, get creative… and keep your shirt on.


Okay, that’s enough Zen for today…

cheers, Louise

Downsizing fallout – what about the ones left behind?

I recently wrote a post: your brand, your people – being ready when things turn around. It focused on the people companies retrench in tough financial times like these, and how this can impact on your brand. 

But there’s another side of the story… the ones left behind.

They’re the ones that take up the slack. So while they’re juggling bigger work loads and feeling guilty because they’re (apparently) ‘the lucky ones’, they’re also often waiting for the tap on the shoulder themselves. Add to this the fact that those retrenched can be part of their social circle, both at work and outside of work, and it can make for an unhappy work environment.

The Sydney Morning Herald ran a brilliant article Retrench Warfare last weekend (March 14). It’s essential reading – whether you’ve been retrenched, you’re safe for now, you’re a line manager, or you’re running the company.

A related article from February this year deals with stress in the workforce, and how managers can deal with it. Read article…

Food for thought…



Your brand, your people: Be ready when things turn around

As the global financial meltdown continues, organisations are having to find ways to trim back to stay profitable – or just to stay in business. And it is the organisation’s people that are often the first to go. 

Many organisations see their communication department as the place to start. But Russell Grossman, director of communication at the UK Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform prods our memories in Natasha Nicholson’s article Staying up during the downturn (CW Magazine, Jan-Feb 2009):

“…remember the disastrous consequences of doing that in the last recession [in the U.K.] more than 15 years ago. Firms that did so were ill prepared when they needed to power up again. The firms that didn’t lay off all their communicators had a clear advantage after the economy improved”.

Unfortunately, losing people equates to losing both skills and company knowledge – but there is another thing to consider. Your brand.

Just last year, organisations were focussing on attracting and retaining the right people in a competitive marketplace. A lot of time, money and effort went into building a credible brand  and becoming employers of choice.

All that good work can unravel very quickly – especially if ex-staff start talking your organisation down. So the heart-wrenching task of laying people off needs to be handled with care and compassion – for your sake and theirs. 

Head of brand and employee engagement at Publicis Consultants in the UK, Kevin Keohane, ABC, puts it perfectly (CW Magazine, Jan-Feb 2009):

“…the way [people] are treated on the way out the door is likely to have big implications on how they perceive – and communicate about – your organisation… Handle the departure well, and you may create an advocate for life, who may come back to work for you, refer star employees to you, or promote your product or service. …Handle it poorly…and you’ve probably created a vocal brand assassin.”

And finally, Gaynor Parke advises organisations not to panic in Be Resourceful (emPower magazine), and reminds us of this piece of wisdom from Henry Ford

“You can take my business, burn up my building, but give me my people and I’ll build the business right back again”.

And he’d know.


There’s another side to retrenchment… read this dragonfly post about the ones left behind