We can afford what we create

The golden rule of economics and politics

It is all that we need to know really.  We can afford what we create.

Our plan of work tells us what we can afford

And from the golden rule ~ we can afford what we create ~ we have two other rules.

It is better to work with others than alone

None of us can create everything we want, or need, to afford.  It matters that we belong to a bigger group or tribe.

The collective to which we belong tells us what we can afford.  Our family, our company, and yes, the country, the sovereign state to which we belong, define what we create and our lifestyle.

When I am writing, someone is creating the electricity that powers this laptop.  While another person is making my washing machine (running in the background), I am looking for easy-to-understand writing on our economy that cuts through the obfuscation delivered by politicians.

The system matters.  Our place in it also matters.  But the whole,  the collective, is what we must keep our eye on.  Where we draw the boundary matters.  Because we can afford what we can create. Who is weBetween us, we create what we can afford.

Draw a circle around who we trust, and who lives and breathes because we live and breathe, and we have defined what we create and what we can afford.

If that circle is too small to define the lifestyle we want,  there is our first task.  Widen the circle. Widen the  magic circle of trust.

We need leaders who instinctively read that circle and work with our neighbors, suppliers and customers to widen our system.

Tell me what you are going to do.  Economics will follow.

The second rule that follows the golden rule is that value comes first.  We can check the economics afterward.

The clear writing economist, Ann Pettifor, makes this point well.

The central bank in each country should set the money supply to match the economic capacity of a country.

She doesn’t like using a household or small company as an example.  So let’s use a giant multinational.

When a giant company needs something done, and they are pretty certain it will work out, they put up the budget and let the managers and workers get on with it.  Money comes first in time.  But profits, and worrying about profits comes last.  Paying back the investors comes last.  We will recover our money provided we only put up the amount of money that the work was worth.

But we will never make money unless we have the money to bring a team together and get going.

The skill in managing, and financing, a major investment is understanding what venture is worth.

Before you tell me that business does not work like that.  It does.  Don’t confuse where you work with successful companies and successful public service.  I’ve consulted to them.  I’ve led in them.

I have two rules:

  • What do you want to do?
  • After you’ve told me, we’ll run the numbers to make sure it is economically viable.  If not, we go back to question 1.  What do you want to do? We begin with the value.  We begin with what you want to create.  Economics follows.  If you want to do it, we will back it.

We can afford what we can create

These are our questions.

What can we create?

Who do we create it with?

What is our potential that we are not using?

To find our potential: ask people.  What do you want to do?  When that is on the table, we’ll run the numbers.  If the numbers hold together, we back their plans.

The golden rule and Britain’s government deficit

Ann Pettifor puts this story in the context of Britain’s government deficit(which is large but not nearly as big as the bank bailouts).  She is standing for parliament but don’t let that dissuade you.  She writes clearly.  That alone is a good reason for electing her.

The collective, Britain, defined by the reach of the Bank of England and the reach of the pound sterling, has potential.   Fund it.  A simple message.  Fund what we can create.

The only question that I ask, and I’ll go to her blog now to ask the question, is how quickly will we recover the money?  I think I would like to see the numbers run by month, quarter and year.  Then I would feel more comfortable.

Then my trust would increase  Then the collective strengthens.

Sometimes economists (and lawyers and accountants) forget that everything they do depends upon us believing it.  Yes, the outer boundary is the reach of the pound sterling.   The real boundary is our belief in each other.  Some people call this belief ‘confidence’ but that is the wrong measure.

Confidence  is self-efficacy.  The correct measures is collective self-efficacy.  The question for that is “Do I believe that you will do better economically this year?” When we answer yes to that question, then we will boom.

But first the question of timing.  I must ask Ann that.

For now I am thankful for finding that quotation.  Simple.  Pithy.  We can afford what we create.

Followed by my two rules.

  • People matter.  Who is we.
  • We’ll check the economics after we have decided what we want to do.

P.S.  I googled “we can afford what we create” and I didn’t find any other reference to it.  Did Ann coin this phrase or is it a well known economic expression?

5 questions to find the best place to be during a prolonged recession

Where is this recession going?

I’ve spent some time following economic information about the recession and I think there is a fair chance that it will be L shaped.  I think the financial shock has been so bad that it is not good enough to wait.  I think the correct analogy is that we have had an earthquake, the house has cracked, and we would be smart to attend to the foundations.  In fact, why not take advantage to ‘build a better’ house were we have a more comfortable, more sociable and more exciting life.

I think that is the project politicians should be attending to, and I think we should too.  The sooner we identify the kind of “house” we want to live in, the sooner they can get on with organizing it!

Where do we find exciting opportunities during a prolonged recession?

As a psychologist, I listen out for the way people describe things. I look to the structure of their statements to identify what really excites them, what is going somewhere and where there is room for other people.

#1  Does the person describe action?

Do I know who is doing what, when, where and how?

#2  Is this a project that other people can join?

Do I know when and where other people can join the party?  Is the description an invitation to me and others?

#3  Is the person responsive when other people chip in?

Is the person looking for responses and did they allow time to reply to people?  Did they expect people to want to join them?

#4  Is the person curious about other people?

Does the person respond to inquiries and suggestions with requests for more information or elaboration?  Do they believe that other people can add value to their project?

#5  Through the entire conversation, does the person keep their eye on their goal?

While the person is responding to inquiries and following up, do they maintain their momentum and movement toward their goal?

Here’s my little acronym: AIRINGOAL

Action

Invitation

Responsive

Involvement

Goal

5 questions to tell whether a businesses is going somewhere

These are the 5 questions I ask to tell the difference between a business that may look thriving, and may go the same way as banks and newspapers, from business that will thrive despite the profession.

Once we have found a business that is vital and exciting, then we can ask more detailed questions about our role within it.  More on that tomorrow!

Little known secrets about what a work and organizational psychologist will do for you in a recession

My job is to help you find forward momentum

I’m a psychologist. What this means, in short, is that you come to see me when you feel frustrated and it is my job to help you find a way forward.

Clinical psychology, social workers, lawyers & doctors

For some people getting out of a bad situation is complicated.  Quite often they are in extremely difficult circumstances and they need social workers, doctors, lawyers, etc. to help them solve practical problems.

They may also have lived in difficult circumstances for so long that they no longer recognize easy circumstances.  Helping them unravel their view of life and live an easier life is the work of clinical psychologists.

Work & organizational psychologists

Most people who come to see me are not in a bad situation.  They are at one of the normal turning points in life where they have to make a decision and they do not have sufficient information.  These turning points are often frustrating and scary, but they are essentially about questions like which organization should I join?  Or, how do I improve my status and my income?  Psychologists like me work less like clinical psychologists, who work with what is in your head, more like social workers, doctors and lawyers.  We help you understand and manage the external world, and in particular the world of organizations and work.

Indeed, we are quite often work for organizations rather than individuals and when we do, we are architects of systems.  We design selection systems.  We design disciplinary codes.  We design bonus systems.  HR systems are just formalized ways of making a lot of personal decisions about what we are doing and where we are going.  When we design the systems well, we give people an easy framework to make their own decisions well.  And we also strengthen the organization, by providing a place where we live and work comfortably and easily.

Work & organizational psychologists ask a lot of questions about work & business

To design good systems, we need to know a lot about jobs and business.  Of course, we don’t know as much as the people who run the business and who have worked in it all their lives.  Businesses and technologies change fast too.  So we are less in the business of knowing, and more in the business of asking questions.

Learning about the financial crisis

I started writing this post this morning after I read a post from the redoubtable Alice Cook, who provides a graph showing that financial debt has grown disproportionately to consumer and corporate debt in the UK.  I knew that generally but didn’t have a graph at my finger tips.  So thank you.  I like to have data stored away neatly.

Personal action during the financial crisis

I am amazed, though, that anyone is amazed by these figures.  Like many people, I feel that the managerial classes in the UK have a lot to answer for.  They should have known these figures intimately and acted accordingly.

The trouble is that blaming others is pretty useless as a psychological technique.  Professionals & business leaders may be to blame.  We might be right to hold them in contempt.  And personally, I wouldn’t feel unhappy if they were prosecuted.  But blaming others doesn’t help us feel better, and more importantly, it doesn’t help use get things right.  So I’ll leave that to others.

As a psychologist, what I have to say is this.

Until we are all a lot better informed, we will simply lurch from one crisis to another

Listed below are the bare bones of an information system that I am used to having at my disposal.

  • Trends in our industry
  • Current economic figures supplied monthly by our bank
  • People around me who read the figures
  • Key figures pertaining to our industry
  • Data on databases so that computer savvy people (including youngsters) can play with data and ask questions
  • Key figures that show the strength and resilience of our business
  • Key figures readily available so computer savvy people can play with them and ask questions

It is true I have not seen this information being made freely available to employees since I have arrived in the UK but I’ve lived elsewhere where a key player in the provision of information to people in business has been, ironically, British-listed banks.

If we want to get out of the biggest mess since the great Depression, we are going to have to do something. And to do something, we have to begin.  The first steps I will tell you, being a psychologist, is to ask questions.

Some easy no-cost first steps that individuals and small business owners should take

You have a computer and internet?  So let’s go.  If you haven’t already done it, it’s time to set up your own economic intelligence system.

FIVE steps will do it.  Set up folders on your email, feeds reader, bookmarkers and hard drive,  and a page on your blog.

1. Google Alerts.  Set up Google Alerts for your industry.

I have alerts for UK jobs and UK GDP and use a ‘rule’ to send them straight to my “intelligence” folder in email.  I read them once a week or when I need a break from other tasks.

2.  As you find useful blogs, subscribe in your feeds reader.

I scan these at my leisure and make a point of reading The Economist on Thursday evenings.

3. Bookmark articles you might want to come back to.

One big folder works better than many little ones.  Bookmarks saves you Google-time when you want to re-call something.

4.  Save useful graphs, data and pictures on your hard drive for the presentation you will make later!

5. Blog from time to time to organize your thoughts.

Then make an index of useful posts on a separate page where your readers can find all your writings on the future of your industry and local economy.

So will being economically-savvy help?

Keeping an eye on the economy does not stop other people from being foolish, of course.  And it can also make you feel panicky when you see a trend that no one else seems to care about.

I find that understanding the economy is like knowing the motorway ahead is congested.  I have created choice for myself.  I can keep driving and join the throngs inching along and losing their tempers.  Or I can pull off, and take a longer route through the back roads.

Neither may be a great outcome and it is also possible to put far too much effort into deciding the best alternative.  But I prefer a leisurely drive down the back roads enjoying the country view than boiling with frustration on an ugly motorway.

And I quite happy to leave behind badly run organizations for a business venture that is smaller and more likely to be here tomorrow.

Follow the good money

If you haven’t already done so, begin.  Spend a few hours a week following the economic data.  It gets easier.

And if we all do it, we won’t be routed by unscrupulous managers, at least for a while.

You know, that credity thing

A young female of White-fronted Capuchi Monkey...
Image via Wikipedia

With apologies to a London cab driver, what do I want to know about the credity thing?

I’m very interested in understanding the financial crisis, the meltdown, the credit crunch, or whatever you want to call our current predicament.  There is a lot of talk about managers’ bonuses and  the USD70 cost per hour for a worker who makes my car (is that a lot?), and surprising little talk about the role of legislation and the culpability of Company Directors.

I would like to know a lot more about the cost break downs in companies currently in the spotlight, and in our vision for Britain in the next 50 years.  Who will do our work?  Who will deliver our letters and our babies?  What work do we want to do and what is it’s price on the world stage?  I would like conversations about all these issues.

Curating clear presentations

For now, I am collecting straightforward descriptions of the crisis and posting them on one page.

Many of you may be familiar with Peter Fryer’s work on emergence in organizations and his concept of Trojan Mice.  If you don’t subscribe to his monthly newsletter, you should.  It’s packed with quotations and links and if you read nothing but his newsletter, you would be well served.

In December, Peter included a magnificent description of SHORT SELLING which will help you explain it to anyone, regardless of their education level.

It’s good for a weekend smile.  Here it is.

Once upon a time, in a village, a man appeared and announced to the villagers that he would buy monkeys for £10 each. Seeing that there were plenty of many monkeys around the villagers went out to the forest, and started catching them. The man bought thousands at £10.

As supplies of monkeys started to diminish, the villagers ceased their efforts. The man then announced he would now buy at £20. So the villagers renewed their efforts and start­ed catching monkeys again. Soon the supply of monkeys diminished even further and peo­ple started going back to their farms. The man increased his offer to £25 and the supply of monkeys diminished to the extent that it was an effort to even see a monkey, let alone catch one. But the man now announced he would buy monkeys at £50!

However, since he had to go to the city on business, his assistant would now buy on his behalf. In the absence of the man, the assistant said to the villagers: “Look at all these monkeys in the big cage that the man has collected. I will sell them to you at £35 and when the man returns from the city, you can sell them to him for £50 each.” The villagers thought that was a great idea so they collected all their savings and bought all the monkeys.

They never saw the man nor his assistant again. But they had plenty of monkeys Now you have a better understanding of how the stock market works.

UPDATE: For an HR Managers perspective on the Recession, I have written a summary on a new post.

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Why some people stay cheerful in spite of the recession

Psychology of loss and gain

Economists who study behavior will tell you that we value something we lose, much more, than we value something we gain.

This is a pertinent emotion during a recession.   Most of us will lose something.  We may not get the  increase in salary we worked so hard for, or we might make less profit.  We might suffer a large loss, such as our job, or our business.  Some of our possessions may get repossessed.  We could even lose our houses that we saved and skimped and spent many weekends working on.  What chumps we will feel!

Loss is devasting, and distracts us from possibility.

Tom Peters today passed on a fabulous anecdote about Kurt Vonnegut,  Joseph Heller and a hedgefund manager.

“At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut informs his pal, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history. Heller responds, ‘Yes, but I have something he will never have … enough.'”

Amen!
And thank you, John Bogle!
(And Judith Ellis.)

Coping with loss

It’s really difficult not to focus on loss when it happens.  Indeed, we shouldn’t move on too soon.  Grieving has its place.

I find the advice from the 5 stages of group formation useful: forming, storming, norming, performing, adjourning.   The leader’s task during ‘adjourning’ is to help an individual break their tie with the group, and to proceed back into the world quite happily as an individual.

Applying that advice to the horrible events that happen in recessions, we have three broad steps.  We need

  • Signal that change is going to happen in sufficient time
  • Plan a rite of passage (like a graduation ceremony)
  • Get people visualizing life without the group (or house or whatever).

No, that’s not quite right.  To talk about ‘life without’ brings our attention back to what we have lost.

Endpoint

We need to talk about our story, all the good times we have had, and gradually get to the point that we see jobs, companies, businesses, not as the end in themselves – just as ENOUGH.  They are there to help us get what we want.

What do we want?  And how are those projects going!  Incredibly hard to focus on those things when confronted with loss – the economists tell us so!

UPDATE: For an HR Managers perspective on the Recession, I have written a summary on a new post.

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Confidence in bad times

in a blaze of glory

Image by Darwin Bell via Flickr

For the last two weekends, I ran a little poll here on your plans for beating the recession.  The full poll and results are at the end of the post.

Of the two score or so people who answered, this was the modal response.

I have only scenario planned the future INFORMALLY.  I am planning to 2010.  My business is YET to be affected by the recession.  I expect to grow 25% over a 2007 baseline.  I will find a RECESSION-BEATING strategy.

So are we confident or fool-hardy?

Let me add these three observations.

  • People who answer online polls are “geeks” or “geek-like”.  Maybe all of poll results are true.  We haven’t been badly affected and we understand what is going on sufficiently to improve our businesses.
  • A prudent economist friend of mine offers the following:  the stock market has dropped 50% since its peak of October 2007 (possibly more by today).  The average growth rate per year is 6%.  Assuming a good recovery, stock prices will recover their value in 50/6=8 years time (2016).  This simple arithmetic may be useful for people managing their portfolios or planning their retirement.  Notice that people in my survey (typically) assume 4x the average growth rate.  During coaching, some nudging towards practical plans might be necessary.
  • Before I left Zimbabwwe, and while it was already obvius that things were going wrong, my students ran a series of studies measuring and explaining “hopelessness” [not hope sadly but interesting nonetheless].  They measured “hopelessness” in various groups and NEVER EVER found clinical levels of hoplessness.

Explaining hope and resilience

Moreover, any one person’s sense of hopelessness could be explained by the level of social support they perceived from relevant others.  Here are some interesting results.

  • Wives of unemployed men looked to their churches for support.
  • Teenagers about to leave school after writing their O levels [school certificate/high school] felt more hopeful if they were supported by their families.

And feeling supported by their family was strongly linked to the number of family members having work or income

  • Working men in factories depended heavily on the social support of their supervisors. The mood of employees who were well educated and qualified was very much less affected by their managers

What did we take from these studies (and my little poll)?

  • People are naturally resilient.  They believe the best.
  • Social support is critical.

In hard times, it is very important for the management system to provide support.  This is likely to have a chain effect.  The CEO needs to show belief in his or her direct reports and they need to show belief in their direct reports.

  • Social support outside the firm is also critical and managers can help themselves by supporting external support systems.

Enourage people to remain within churches and sports clubs, help them stay in touch with their families and make it easy for them to do so.  Have we arranged for Hindu employers to have time off for Diwali?  Do we celebrate Eid?  Do we help people take time off for important events?

Collective efficacy, solidarity and business results

It is pretty likely that

  • collective efficacy (expressed belief in the importance and competence of our colleagues) and
  • solidarity (our willingness to support each other through thick-and-thin)

add a critical 5-10% onto our collective performance.

I wonder if there are any practitioners out there who are focussing on these ‘soft’ concepts and linking them to the ‘hard’ results of revenue in hard times?

Here is my original poll.  Thanks so much for contributing.  Despite my experience during other crises, I was still pleasantly surprised that we are so confident.

[polldaddy poll=1005163]

[polldaddy poll=1005175]

[polldaddy poll=1005188]

[polldaddy poll=1005210]

[polldaddy poll=1005254]

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HR leaders: stepping up in the recession

UPDATE: For an HR Managers perspective on the Recession, I have written a summary on a new post.

In recent days, there has been a lot more traffic looking for advice on Human Resources Management (HR) in a recession.  Scott MacArthur posted a good practical list of issues and I weighed in on his post with two catch-all suggestions for opportunities presented by a recession:  Declutter and Build Relationships.

Strategic approach to HR in the recession

The recession is an opportunity for HR professionals to step and contribute strategically.  In the classical strategy paradigm,

  • we begin by looking at the macro economic environment.
  • Then we look at the micro-environment – what affects us and our competitors.
  • Next, we establish which strategic factors HR influences directly.
  • Finally, we drop down to our tactics.

Reach out beyond HR – think economics

HR Managers in large firms in today’s business climate have to start at the very top of the strategic process.   We are on the cusp of the most dramatic shakeup in business conditions in 70 or 80 years.  And, unfortunately, we will be lucky if it is only a recession.

I picked up a very good video this morning explaining how the credit crunch came about.  It uses the example of a pyramid of champagne glasses.  One of the first practical things you can do, is keep this link to help people in your company understand why the credit crunch happened, and why it is so serious.

Think beyond defence.  Lead.

As I write, I feel like one of the gloom-and-doom merchants we are hearing in the media.  I don’t feel the gloom-and-doom, as my previous posts on positive psychology and the best of Britain in this blog will show.

It does seem that business, and not just the banks, may have been dealing in classical pyramid schemes, and that major institutions, like the rating agencies, were utterly out of their depth.

The best of UK

But, we have another foundation to our society which is far more important than they.

I look to the creativity, the wit, the curiosity, and the plain initiative of the ordinary people of our country, and I look particularly to the spectactularly self-driven and honest Gen Y who are just coming into junior management positions.

Boomers and older Gen Xers need to step up and lead!

Boomers and older Gen Xers should be showing clear leadership but I am not seeing a phalanx of senior executives coming together and providing a united front.  I am not hearing a clear cut strategy from politicians.  What I am seeing, or perhaps hearing as someone put it on the BBC, is a loud raspberry being blown at the bailout. The Icelandic prime minister talked of “each man for himself”.

I think our role, as HR managers, is to reverse this attitude, and facilitate clear leadership in each and every one of our organizations.

So how do we support leadership in this climate?

This is what I would be doing.

Facilitate the conversation

#1 Be in on the strategic meetings and facilitate full discussion.  Our job is to stop groupthink, and to keep the conversations grounded and positive.  Negative thought leads to tunnel vision.  Postive thought about collective action generates creativity and sustains morale.

Broker commitments and loyalty to employees

#2 Ask for clear commitments of what the company can guarantee employees in the worst case scenario.  People need a firm bedrock to push off against.

Engage employees in independent scenario planning

#3 With or without these commitments, ask employees to engage in scenario planning on their own account.

~ I can hear the panic – employees think and talk?  Yes, this is the right time for employees to think and talk.

~ I would set up a closed social network on a platform like Ning, and open it up for employees to post videos and discuss ideas directly with each other.

~ By using a social media platform, the discussion is out in the open, and executives are able to monitor morale, and pick up ideas from the very smart Gen Yers who will use the network most.

Our role, as ever, is to facilitate:

  • Get Gen Y to teach Gen X and Boomers networking skills.
  • Moderate any uncouth language.
  • Net etiquette is pretty strong and some diplomatic coaching will smooth away any rough talk very quickly.

Is this too pink when we need strong task leadership?

Why will these actions help fill the leadership gap?  In a phrase, collective efficacySelf-efficacy predicts the staying power of individuals.  Collective efficacy predicts the capacity of a group to overcome adversity.

Collective efficacy is simply our belief in each other’s competence.  Social networks reveal the strengths of individuals across the organization.  We get to know each other, beyond our immediate workgroup, and we begin to appreciate the depth of talent around us.  Experts begin to explain complex ideas.  Non-experts listen, and display talents in their own areas.  Dumbing up, I like to call it.

Above all, we tend to get that jaw-dropping experience of “I didn’t know we are this good”.  Such insight generates the energy for the extra mile, the extra idea, the extra five minutes of patience, and ultimately the thriving that we hadn’t thought possible.

So how do we set up Ning?

It is easy (and free).  If you are unsure, or have never facilitated an online community before, there are experienced social media users the length and breadth of the UK.  For starters, contact SocialMediaMafia and ask them to direct you to a social media expert near you.  They will be happy to help.  This is the age and medium of the generous, the helpful, the connected.

And P.S.

If you are worried about talking about the economy and HR’s role, please do feel free to talk to me too.  This is the worst economic crisis in UK in the last 70, years but other countries have been through this depth of shake-up on a local basis.  I’ve been here before.

Collective efficacy is possible, and we in HR, are the people to fill the leadership vacuum, both online and offline.

UPDATE: For an HR Managers perspective on the Recession, I have written a summary on a new post.

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3 steps to positive HR with a recession looming

UPDATE: For an HR Managers perspective on the Recession, I have written a summary on a new post.

Demand for HR increases with a recession looming

In this spring and summer of 2008, the northern hemisphere has been in a mild panic: fuel and food is increasingly expensive, banks and financial institutions are struggling to meet their commitments, and recession seems in the offing.  That feels depressing, doesn’t it?

I’ve just done a quick search on Google Trends of what we, the citizens, are saying.  Pop a few terms in yourself.  What patterns do you see?

  • Talk of recession rose sharply in January 2008 and has leveled off.
  • There has been a lot of talk about lay offs but less about job losses.  Semantics possibly, but also talk about what management does to us rather than what we experience?

It makes sense that people are more interested in HR when job losses are in the offing.  This pattern seems to be more pronounced in India and it is not possible to tell whether India is creating the global trend by force of numbers, or creating the trend by the direction of its attention, or simply the place with the most pronounced pattern.

The role of HR during a recession

Though it is an important concern, I am not particularly interested in whether there is a recession or not.  What concerns me is that we cannot create a good future until we can imagine it.

And I am concerned about the role we in HR play in helping people imagine a positive future.  People come to us when they are in trouble and feeling negative.  People come to us when they cannot see a way forward.  The graphs on recession, leadership, HR, hope and strategy show that people are not even looking for hope, strategy and leadership when they are looking for us!

Our key task

The challenge, for us, is that emotion is highly contagious.  Natural empathy will allow us to be infected by our clients’ gloom.

But they don’t want us to share their gloomy predictions.  They want positive action from us.  They want us to advise them and to act effectively on their behalf.  This is what concerns them.

  • What are their options and what can the firm do to help them?
  • What could we do with our skill base that we haven’t thought of?

Practical steps to positive HR in gloomy times

So if we are likely to reflect and perpetuate the gloominess of our clients, how can halt this process and restore a positive, forward looking, strategic atmosphere?

Here are three practical suggestions.

  • Make emotional R&R mandatory for the HR team.

Budget part of the day, part of the week, and part of the month for them to recover from toxic emotions and to restore their sense of what is “good and true, better and possible”.  Allow frequent “walks in the woods”.

  • Increase your budget for strategic thinking (not tactical response) and engage the organization in thinking through positive futures for all its staff.

After all, a firm that is healthy and thriving should be able to imagine positive futures for all the skill sets used in their industry.

  • Increase your budget for calming down line managers.

Stress causes defensiveness.  We try to control what we have and imagination flies out the window.  Stressed managers will quickly create a downward spiral.

And because supporting stressed people is extremely hard work, look after yourself.

Why I am positive

The positive news is that people are generally active and focused rather than passive and reactive.  People are less interested in abstract concepts like “recession” and much more interested in “what they are going to do”.

For young people, recession is not a bad memory.   They weren’t here during the last one.  A minor economic downturn is simply an adventure: something to be explored, something to be understood, something to be conquered and something to be enjoyed in the company of fellow travelers.

My call to action

My call to action:  Add an explicit positive agenda to your HR now.

  • Give your staff resources to recover from negativity.
  • Up the time spent on strategic HR and don’t stop until you have a positive vision for everyone in the company.
  • Work with senior managers.  When they are glum, they make everyone else glum, who then make them even more moody!

And make sure you have your quote of “walks in the woods”, positive mentors, simple pleasures and good home life.

Are you looking for a mentor or are you available to mentor an HR Manager trying to implement positive HR?

UPDATE: For an HR Managers perspective on the Recession, I have written a summary on a new post.

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