Will Economic Recovery Kill You Off?

Falling In Love Again

By Nick Pavano
Sandra Florstedt
Organizational Development Practice Leaders


We may be at the earliest stages of a new “boom” or we may be just experiencing the startling brilliance of somewhat less dark days, but few among us can deny that there is a new, if cautious economic optimism that is emerging. We seem to be ready to get our groove back.

Where many of us have been focused on pure survival, cutting to the bare bone, making do with less, and lowering horizons, there comes now a quiet shift in the wind. But becoming successful doesn't just happen; can we fall in love with success again?

It has been a long couple of years and few of us are now who we were back “then” … that goes for our companies, too. Many of us are a little “blue” from tightening our belts and holding our breaths. The future will belong to those of us who can make the profound shift from reactive to proactive, from defensive to aggressive.


For many of us, our company culture has become marked by

      • Extreme emphasis on cost cutting and downsizing
      • Painful readjustments in people, resources and vision
      • Executive focus on maintaining and conserving
      • Sincere search for alternative resources (ex. outsourcing, “off-shoring”)
      • Tasking current employees as fully as possible (“If you have a job today you are doing the work of two or three.”)

These characteristics have created a number of realities which the wise company will do well to ponder deeply.

A Minor Emotional Apocalypse - We have experienced a profound visceral shift from “Excelsior, the sky is the limit” to “We are lucky to be eating.” This has had a marked impact not only on our confidence, but in our trust … of the company … its vision and manifest destiny … and of ourselves. Moving crisply forward to new success will require a reinvention of a dream.

The World Keeps Turning – Who we were and what we did worked great … then. Then it just stopped working! Will it work again in the new world? Does our identity need a rethink? Will a structure geared to survival support success? Will stock options ever be the same?

Our People Hunkered Down - Our key people who are still with us once believed deeply in great reward for great achievement, unequalled professional mobility and recognition in their industry, and the excitement of forging a brave new world. They were in love and it showed. Then they saw their peers depart, the vision contract, and their workload triple. When you look in their eyes today, what do you see?

New Paradigms Emerge – Where once we couldn’t find space for all the people we needed, now key functions and jobs are migrating to Latvia and India and Shanghai. Will our old success model be sufficient for the new paradigm, and do our people who stayed “down on the farm” comprehend and embrace the new dynamic?


As the competitive environment begins to heat up, the successful companies of tomorrow will take action today to craft their new strategy. The future leading companies are mindful that

The First Success - The first companies to the market with a new vision of success will be looked to by their competitors and their competitors’ employees as “the place to be”.

A Ticking Turnover Bomb - Many employees today feel trapped, overworked and ready for a change. The successful company will energize a culture and a model which will excite and retain their top people, while attracting the best talent in what may become the “post slump turnover boom”.

Communication a Key - A changing business model and dynamic will require crisp, honest and comprehensive communication of a global vision, clear definitions of new roles and expectations, and formulations of meaningful and effective upward and downward communication channels.

Reward - The new economic environment will present challenges of recognition and reward for key performers. The successful company will develop reward vehicles which flow naturally out of the new indicia of business success.


To position the company and its contributors for success to come, a few of the dynamic steps that are needed are


Perform a formal and fearless analysis of who we are today. Who were we and how is that different from whom we will become? What of our past is an asset, and to what must we bid adieu? And what are the directions we will take and assets we must have? And how can this be cleanly and honestly communicated?


How can our top management formally and effectively “spread the word”? The personal touch will be critical, and maybe a first message is that again the view is forward to the future. But the effective program will be conscious, coordinated and honest and will carry the company story of promise and participation.


We may not believe it, but it may be time to look around the company and see who is with us…personally…. really look. Who is key? Really key? Upon whom will we build and what roles will they play? Recognize pent up frustrations, unfulfilled aspirations and underutilized talents… and show how these may be satisfied in a new, inclusive company culture.


It may have been a tough time, but together your team came through. Has that been recognized and rewarded? And what is the reward message for the future success? Is it realistic, motivational and clear.

From slightly shell shocked, confused and demoralized companies are emerging into a new spirit of cautious optimism. The sucessful leaders of the future will discover the organizational alchemy that transforms doubt into direction, vagueness into vision, and disillusionment into common purpose…

We suggest the time to begin is now.

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Nick Pavano
Worldwide Consulting Group LLC
(01) (650) 322-1066

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