The fog of war. For me scenes from Saving Private Ryan, Hacksaw Ridge, We Were Soldiers are the closest I’ve been to a battlefield. The chaos of battle blurs vision, impairing the decision-making process of both leaders and the boots on the ground. Not to be overly dramatic by comparing our current situation to what is experienced by the carnage of war, plummeting revenue streams mixed with unemployment is creating a fight of the fittest for our companies and clients.


In research I’ve been conducting on how companies have steered through previous economic recessions, I located a study conducted by Harvard Business School’s Ranjay Gulati, Nitin Nohria, and Franz Wohlgezogen. They analyzed 4700 companies across three major recessions to look for strategies and traits that actually propelled some companies through the economic downturn to returns that exceeded pre-recession levels.


Today’s battles may put us in crisis mode which calls for smart moves toward cost reduction and revenue falls. Reducing staff and controlling operating expenses can be sound judgment as you circle the wagons. However, minimizing expenses doesn’t necessarily lead to a path for both survival and potential growth.


A mental shift to ‘less than’ doesn’t bring clarity to operational efficiency.


Companies that rely solely on cutting the workforce have only an 11% probability of achieving breakaway performance after a downturn.


Their findings were rather than have a prevention mindset, position yourself as a progressive company, one that pursues increased operational efficiencies.


Questions to consider:


Are there efficiencies in processes that could make it easier for your clients or candidates to interact with you? Is my data current on customers and candidates? Is there data that I can mine to provide information for decisions to be made by those I serve?


Am I utilizing my CRM to its fullest? Have my teams (or I) created workarounds instead of learning proper ways to document or drive the system?


Is the information on your website creating the image you want to portray, claiming your unique value proposition? Have you slowed down to carefully look at the language you use to describe the problems you solve for your clientele? Are there case studies that might make good stories to add to the website that show the capabilities and heart of your company?


Have you encouraged your team to review their LinkedIn page? Not to update it as an outplacement exercise. Unless you are looking for a job, your LinkedIn page is not your resume, it’s your personal billboard, your positioning statement to the business community you serve. Invest time and guidance on how to create a better image by looking at it from your client’s or candidates perspective


Can I craft a stronger social media message to better engage, raise visibility, and expand my network? A big question to ask is what do I need to be doing (or not doing) in one year to be more effective, more efficient, have a bigger voice.


Are you engaging your team to look for sacred cows, things that you are doing because that’s always the way you’ve done them? Can efficiencies be created on your desk, in the way to communicate with others on your team?


Yes, to fight today’s battle we need to be strong stewards of the finances, both as leaders and team members. But without facing the challenge of increasing operational efficiency we are only putting minimal fuel in the tank. Engage your team by focusing not just on doing more. What can you do better?


Then make sure to celebrate the strides. That’s how you are going to be victorious, outpace the competition and win the race.