Overcoming Mistakes Made During the Recession

The recession has put managers to the test in ways they likely had not experienced in the past. Often, choices were made to reduce costs that weren't planned out as strategically as they would have been in other times, and companies already are beginning to regret some decisions that were made too quickly.

Does that make these supervisors bad managers? No. Hindsight is 20-20. But there are lessons that can be learned from these missteps now that an economic recovery may be on the horizon.

Here are a few of the most common staffing mistakes made, along with suggestions for getting your team back on track:

Mistake #1: Cutting personnel levels too deeply
Many organizations operating with lean teams are discovering being short-staffed is hampering their ability to conduct business and contributing to burnout of remaining employees. As conditions begin to change but uncertainty persists, gaining staffing flexibility through the use of temporary financial professionals can provide a particular advantage. Your firm can expand or contract your personnel levels as needs dictate far more quickly and less expensively than if your organization is composed entirely of full-time employees. At the same time, you can evaluate temporary professionals for potential full-time positions should your needs shift. This flexible staffing strategy can leave you better prepared for any changes ahead, making it a useful business practice to implement on an ongoing basis.

Mistake #2: Overlooking opportunities to strengthen core staff
Many companies have failed to see opportunity along with the turmoil in the recession. With top accounting and finance professionals still in the job market, firms now have the chance to hire highly skilled individuals who might not have been available to them in the past.

By making strategic additions, employers can upgrade the skill set and expertise of their teams. This improved knowledge can be particularly valuable as you plan for future expansion and needs. For instance, you might hire an accounting manager proficient with eXtensible Business Reporting Language who can guide your department through the learning process.

Mistake #3: Feeling employees are just lucky to have jobs
While certainly understandable to a degree, some companies have been so caught up in their efforts to survive the recession that they have given little thought to maintaining employee job satisfaction or loyalty. As economic conditions improve, this mistake can prove costly as unhappy workers pursue other job opportunities.

Even if budgets remain tight, there are steps you can take to create a more positive work environment. Providing flexible scheduling options or access to a mentoring program, for example, cost very little if implemented wisely. Also talk to your employees to find out what improvements they would like to see in the workplace. If you aren’t able to fund a suggested idea right now, explain the situation and brainstorm alternatives. By showing a sincere interest in what employees have to say and following through on their recommendations when possible, you can help reconnect with your staff.

Also meet individually with personnel to discuss their professional goals. What would they like to be doing at your company two years from now? Are they being given the necessary tools and guidance to achieve those objectives? Outline the steps that will be required for them to advance professionally. The more you can give people a vision of a future at your firm, the less likely they are to want to leave.

You may not be able to remedy these mistakes overnight. For instance, it may take time to rebuild employee satisfaction. With the right steps in your staffing strategy, however, you can improve the efficiency and morale of your team, which can pay off particularly as the economy gains momentum and business plans shift. 

For more advice on management and career issues, listen to The Management Minute, Robert Half’s podcast series, at www.rhi.com/podcasts.

Andy Denka is the executive director of Accountemps, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. For more information about Accountemps, a division of Robert Half International, visit www.accountemps.com. Follow Accountemps on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Accountemps for industry news and workplace and career advice.

The article was originally published on SmartPros. © 2010 SmartPros Ltd. All rights reserved.
Republished with permission.

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