I have been interviewing a number of executives while preparing for an upcoming seminar I’m leading on the post recession workplace. All of them were impacted by the recession, but most of them used this period to position their companies for the recovery.
Each of them emphasized three themes during my interviews: 1) need for flexibility; 2) urgency of improving efficiency while eliminating waste; and 3) importance of a well trained workforce. Repeatedly they talked about keeping their operations and employees agile and flexible to be able to respond to a changing environment and ever demanding customers. To do this they invested heavily in their workforce–in training, in communications, and in recruiting top talent that suddenly became available during the downturn. And finally, each knew that they had to become as efficient in their operations as possible. Efficiency reduces costs, eliminates waste, and improves productivity.
While other organizations tried to weather the storm by cutting costs and people while hanging on until the recovery set in, these executives took advantage of the downturn, allowing them to gain new customers and upgrade their talent. The recession was hard on all of these organizations. But as one executive said to me, “we are a better company because of it.”