Navigating the Downturn: Tips for founders from the Oak HC/FT Chief People Officer Guild (Part 3)

November 16, 2022

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This is the third article of a four-part series on how founders can help their businesses navigate downturns.  

The global macroeconomic environment suggests that we are in a moment to be thoughtful about what it means to be an organization that can weather a storm. It is indisputable that the considerations and decisions made now will impact businesses for years to come. We asked the members of the Oak HC/FT CPO Guild for four tips on how to navigate a downturn.

Here’s tip number 3:

Invest internally and extract greater value.

If you’ve been judicious in hiring, have clear goals in place across the company and give feedback consistently, you already have some tools in place to weather this downturn storm. If you don’t, it’s best start prepping those now.  

Goal Setting

Begin with goal setting and performance management. If the company has clearly articulated goals and objectives then be clear on how those are changing in this economic environment. Ensure every employee has goals that link up to the team/company level goals and begin tracking those on a regular cadence to ensure the entire system is maximizing productivity.  

Communications cadence

You can’t extract value from your teams if they are in the dark, expending precious energy worrying about their job security. Employees need to hear from the CEO and executive team more often in the “bad” times than in ‘good’ times. Explain how the macroenvironment is impacting your company and the changes your company needs to make. Be clear on how your expectations of the workforce are changing your teams and what employees need to do differently.  

Make sure to give your managers talking points—they need to be equipped to reinforce key messages and assuage employee concerns on the ground. If you have a younger workforce, keep in mind that most early career staff have not yet worked through an economic downturn and may be anxious about what this means for them. Create smaller venues (team meetings, “office hours”) where employees can ask questions and you can address their concerns.