Training and Optimism: Thriving in Tough Times

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    Thriving in Difficult Times In Training and Optimism

    We say our people are our greatest resource. Do we only say that in good times? Because in bad times, it seems people are the resources we cannot afford. When times are tough, why do managers cut back on training when that is precisely what they need to do to correct productivity?

    Aren’t we realists enough to see more than one factor at play? The economy is one aspect that makes a buyer hesitate, but not the only one. Maybe the salespeople that talk to him need to modify their pitch a bit; after all, we are all affected by the economy. Maybe the salesman’s own worries about the economy and the perceived shakiness of his job affect the way he sells your product or service. Yet negativity based on the economy seems to dominate the mood.

    Training programs are cut. Junior people and deadwood are let go. We pile the extra work on those employees identified as high performers and then we worry they’re going to walk because we know the work just isn’t fair.

    It seems to me this is the time to get the best out of people. To do for them what we need to do to see they are motivated; employees need more than ever to feel valued; they need to realize some of their dreams could come true—even now. To them, it’s not just about the stabilization of the bottom line. Motivated and well-trained people work harder and are more productive. But cut, it seems, we must.

    Taking no risks while the bottom line is affected must be a management mantra although I can’t say I’ve ever heard it. Some winners, and some losers, do just the opposite. It’s time for the cliches. Tough times require tough measures. “Tough” doesn’t necessarily mean to look within. Look outside. Get “tough” on the economy. Don’t let it defeat you. Perhaps, instead of cutting, trimming, or “doing more with less,” we begin to see our most valuable resource as the way out of trouble.

    Maybe it’s time to take a risk because it can’t get much worse—at least from this outsider’s perspective.

    Maybe it’s time for intelligent optimism–for us to:

    • admit that negative forces exist but choose to focus on the positive,
    • focus on what the office can control and ignore what it cannot,
    • avoid adopting a “victim” mentality,
    • focus on the tools that are available, not what is lacking, and
    • spread optimism, while not letting negative conversations get in the way of the vision.

    Leaders and managers should continue to grow the company vision despite the economic outlook, and look at ways to do more, thinking differently, seeking opportunities, and overcoming negative barriers the office itself may have erected.

    Train those valuable resources, use them, and make them feel valued and necessary to the company’s success. They may have solutions that they’re not sharing. If you don’t value them, their personal survival is going to be more important than the bottom line. It’s human nature.

    By acknowledging that economic problems exist, managers show their understanding of the realities of the marketplace, work environment, client base, and public perception. Remarkable managers and leaders choose to move forward with creativity, commitment, and positive thoughts. Negative thoughts never achieve anything but negative results. Even maintaining the status quo can be just as dangerous, only the end may be slower and more painful.

    What? You never heard “attack,” when you could have “retreated?” Or, “You can’t win if you don’t try?” I said that just the other day. Of course, we all know that measured risk is at the heart of entrepreneurship. Can anyone say this is any different?

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