Never waste a crisis. Pretty good baseline rule of thumb for businesses right now.
The Coronavirus has caused thousands of businesses to hit the pause button, which gives managers and owners time to get creative, which puts at risk the jobs for everyone working beneath them.
My experience is almost entirely limited to media companies, but this blueprint is used in a bunch of corporations.
Here’s how it works: because upper-management is sitting around at home with little to do, they assign projects to middle-management. One of those assignments will be, “Please send me a list of 10 action steps that will combine to raise our revenue by a minimum of 20%.” Another will be, “Please send a list of 10 efficiencies that will allow us to trim expenses by a minimum of 20%.”
When everyone reconvenes after the threat of the virus passes, an offsite management meeting will be held where everyone’s lists will be compiled and discussed. Some revenue generators will be fleshed out and readied for deployment. The cuts will also be debated. Despite the impact of the virus being past, cuts that make sense will be implemented.
Smart companies will cross-check to make sure the ideas to lift revenue do not require the assistance of the victims of the cuts. Non-gifted managers will fire first and then try to execute without necessary staff.
Then a day will come six weeks after the meetings when the cuts come, and access cards are collected.
Lethargic businesses await a moment in time when the day-to-day responsibilities are shelved so they can focus on big picture conversations about plans for growth and efficiency. That is where they are right now. This is that moment.
Smart companies churn these projects annually, semiannually or relentlessly. Some are more aggressive about adding revenue, and others are especially zealous about cutting their way to prosperity.
As the media landscape has evolved; most TV, print, radio, and digital companies have become cutters – big cutters. That’s a shame because wise employers understand that employees are critical to generating and maintaining profits.
Downsized employees move to a sector more interested in revenue growth. Then they await the moment when their new employer’s revenue curve hits its apex, and all of a sudden they become cutters, and the cycle continues.
It sucks for the employees who are cut – as well as those who remain, because they know the bell will toll for thee eventually. It’s also galling for the managers who prepare and execute the plan as the cuts will come at the expense of friends who will become former friends as soon as they sign their separation agreements.
But it’s business. That’s the way it works, and as much as we try to retain our humanity in the workplace, we know the true cost of that paycheck – the knowledge that one day our account will be closed or we will tell others they have worked their last. Likely both.
I know that sounds dire, but don’t despair. While managers a level or two up the corporate ladder might be discussing your professional demise during this crisis, you are free to use this pause to generate your own list of ideas to make your dream come true.
Assign yourself this task – write down the challenge that makes you the happiest. For those of you who are not yet employed in a role that allows you to do that exact thing, write down the specific job that would allow you to do it for a living. Answer these questions:
- Am I qualified for the position?
- If not, how can I become qualified?
- If yes, how do I start a business with me in that role?
- If I need to be hired by a company that can make my dream come true, who are 10 hiring managers that can make my dream come true?
- Plot a series of steps that will either allow you to open the business or make your case to those hiring managers.
Best case scenario – live your dream. Worst case scenario – you’ve lost nothing.
These pause moments come around once a decade at most. Make sure to take advantage of them – regardless of your position in a company and as an employee.