How do I get it through my staff’s thick skulls that the world has changed?

Dear Aunty B,


My staff are not adjusting to the current crisis. My accounts manager is cross about having to chase a small bad debt that he would have ignored last year, my sales manager won’t discount to get a client in the door and my marketing manager wants to keep spending LIKE MY EX WIFE!


I can’t sleep at night because our cash reserves are getting low and although we have not lost any major clients yet, it’s got to come.


I don’t want to be alarmist but how do I get it through their thick skulls that the world has shifted and instead of bickering about how things would be or WERE, we actually respond to HOW THINGS ARE.



Dear DF.

Stop shouting. I am NOT DEAF. Look, we are all getting tetchy. But take a deep breathe and refocus. Of course you can see more than your staff. That’s why you’re in the big chair, boss. You also know that you have to keep them on board and readjust their world view as soon as possible without causing panic.

So here is what you need to do.

First, make sure they are hearing about the world from reliable sources – not just you. It is amazing how ignorant some employees can be about world affairs. Why some women (and men) read those trashy magazines about celebrity babies and makeovers when they could be reading The Economist, I’ll never know.

So boss, it’s up to you to be a role model. Walk around the office and ask staff if they have read a particular story? Send them reports with economic outlooks and industry outlooks.

So that they can see the world from your perspective, sign them up to the free SmartCompany email alert, which they can read at lunchtime (that’s productive!). That way they can start to see business from an entrepreneur’s point of view and also read about how companies and employees are changing their strategies and adjusting to the downturn. (Send our marketing and sales co-ordinator Amelie the email addresses of your employees at [email protected] and she’ll sign them all up today!).

Second, have a strategy meeting and spell it out. The world has changed. Use some graphic imagery. Tell them it’s war. Survival of the fittest.

Tell them they can’t see the enemy yet but they are over the horizon. Set up a war room. Have more meetings but make them very short. Set up a dashboard that might add some new measures such as “cash saved”. Ring a bell when staff do a deal. Tell them their KPIs will change. Do what it takes to get them thinking differently.

But just one word of caution.

Do listen to your staff. You have spent the last few years drumming very valuable lessons into their “thick skulls”. Build the brand, don’t discount, spend your time as productively as possible.

Yes, times have changed. But there are some fundamentals you need to keep considering! Don’t forget, discounting can be dangerous, as can slashing your marketing budget! But do chase those bad debts.

Good luck,

Your AuntyB.

Aunty B - Your problems answered by SmartCompany's business bitch

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