By Brian Mitchell, Managing Partner & CEO

I’m getting a lot of the same questions from people I talk to. The questions are wrapped in concern. Candidates between opportunities want to know if new roles are drying up. Hiring managers want to know if the scarcity of good candidates are now more abundant. Our own recruiters want to know if there will be fewer roles to represent soon. These are fine questions, but the real questions need to be answered for oneself in and around “what am I doing to best prepare myself for change and/or opportunity?”.

None of us can control the ebbs and flows of macro-economic market trends, how long or short they’ll last, nor the outcomes they’ll produce. What we do know is that the sun will come up tomorrow and we better do the same. Whatever your current environment is, or you’re concerned it may become, the common denominator in your world is YOU.

So if you’re…..

  • impacted in a RIF at your company, accept that it sucks and take a couple of days to process it. Then devise your strategy to move forward, organize your plan around that strategy, and start executing that plan knowing it’ll need to evolve as you take action and learn in your process to find ‘what’s next’. Nobody is going to do it for you and although you’ll be amazed how many people will rally to help you, most of those people don’t want to keep hearing about how you got screwed over. Negativity is unattractive and even the most empathetic colleagues can’t stay with you for long if that’s where you live. A positive outlook projects positive energy which attracts positive people and positive outcomes. It seems trite and oversimplified to state “you gotta keep a positive attitude”, but just because you’ve heard it before doesn’t mean you’re putting it into practice as a habit in your vocational pursuits. Be proactive and be positive – the best role of your life could be next, but it will never actualize without you taking action to strategize, plan, and execute with “qualitative volume”. Be positively relentless.
  • losing key players on your team then you’ll need to take a hard look at a few things. If a significant number of leaders or key employees are departing and you’re the senior leader in charge of that function or the CEO of the company, then your inaction is likely the problem. Maybe it’s too late and maybe it isn’t, but inaction is a death sentence. You’ll need to make tweaks, big changes, or radical overhauls (to culture, to product, to incentives…to something!), but it’ll start with you as the leader. If everyone is leaving, you’re the common denominator. If you’re not the majority owner of the company, maybe you need to reevaluate the company and position for the best interests of your own career. If the board isn’t willing to raise capital to expand resources or build/fix a product, but still expects record results regardless of the stated headwinds then perhaps it’s not reasonable to stick around. If you’ve had a great track record only to “earn” double your quota expectations without any increased headcount, then perhaps it’s not reasonable to stick around. Whatever the scenario, keep in mind it’s not all roses anywhere else either so take action with prudence. Same theory as above – strategize, plan, execute, evolve… not delay.
  • struggling to attract quality leadership and impact performers to your company, you need to ask “why?”. I know the market has been “candidate driven” for the last year, meaning great candidates (and often even average candidates) can be choosy. I don’t care if it’s a bull or bear market, executives need to constantly ask “why would an exceptional professional want to work here?”. The “they’re lucky to have a job” mentality is not only bullshit, it’s toxic. The most marketable candidates, the ones heads down immersed in excellence building, scaling, selling, operating, etc. have options because they’re excellent at what they do. They need to be challenged with additional responsibilities, inspired by leadership and the company vision and/or mission, have flexibility in their lives, and be fairly compensated. Most CEO’s pay lip service to culture and people, but the ones that truly value culture and people are the ones who tend to invest in their people and the reputation grows from there. This can’t be faked. Those same CEO’s are the ones that not only retain their people, but grow them into even better contributors to the company and client community. Again, if you want to attract great people you’ll need to positively disrupt your reputation in the company and that will exude to the greater market.

The reality is these 3 scenarios aren’t necessarily specific to downturned economies, but to ongoing habitual practices that should be a core focus of your individual professionalism. I’ve said a number of times in these blogs one of my favorite quotes from Napoleon Hill which is “desire is the starting point of all achievement”. So with the mindset of desiring a great career or hiring and retaining great people, that’s the key to start with, but also to never lose sight of. Back that desire up with a strategy, a plan around the strategy, the execution of the plan, and the ongoing iteration of the process, and you’ll undoubtedly get where you need to go. So get going.