I’m sitting here fully prepared for the “biggest storm of the century.” Cars are fueled, a manual can opener is sitting on the kitchen counter along with cans of food, flashlights have batteries, my computer is backed up. The list goes on and on. Eventually the storm will pass and I will fall back to my old habits of backing up the computer when I happen to remember, cleaning out the fridge only when I smell a foul odor or letting the gas tank go to less than a quarter of a tank because I’m too busy to take five minutes (or in my case 10) to fill my car. Life will go back to normal and so will I.
I see the same thing happening in businesses. Proactive steps are taken only when there appears to be a storm on the horizon. Companies immediately chop back the workforce to prevent the organization from toppling the moment it appears that a major client will be lost. Of course if non-performers were managed out of the organization when it is clear they are causing breaks in the foundation, these companies wouldn’t need to be concerned about the dead wood that will go flying should they take a direct hit.
Businesses that are weathering this economic storm have contingency plans in place. They know exactly what they will do if they experience a huge surge in business. This allows them to make smart choices rather than moves they will soon regret. Businesses that appear to be in harm’s way recognize that placing Band-Aids on the windows of their organizations will do little to prevent the glass from breaking, once employees catch wind of the news that their organization is going through turbulent times. These companies have succession plans and teams of people ready and able to rebuild the workforce if need be.
I have no idea how this storm will effect me personally, but I do know this: The more contingency planning I do for myself and for my business, the less anxious I am, even when it appears that the Frankenstorm is only days away. Be safe and learn from your mistakes so that the next time a storm pulls into your port, you are prepared to weather whatever Mother Nature or the economy sends your way.
Roberta Chinsky Matuson is the president of Matuson Consulting and author of the forthcoming book The Magnetic Workplace (Nicholas Brealey, 2013) and Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around, a Washington Post Top-5 Leadership pick. Sign up to receive a complimentary subscription to Roberta’s monthly newsletter, Talent Maximizer.
[Image: Flickr user NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center]