workplace successEconomic researchers say that another recession is around the corner. This can obstruct workplace success well beyond the time a recession runs.


Nearly nine million Americans lost their jobs during the last recession. Unemployment peaked at 10 percent. More than 170,000 small businesses were forced to close their doors. And now experts are saying we’re in for another thumping.

Recent economic data found that the United States is in the middle of the economy’s first curve inversion since 2007. In short, this means that the Treasury yield curve went from positive to negative. This effectively brought purchasing down so low that there’s no longer a gap between three-month and 10-year yields. This concerns economists.

Once a curve inversion happens, it’s only a matter of months before a recession hits hard. Experts have also advised that a recession has been long overdue. While some say that investors should be getting ready for an upturn, others are imploring businesses to get ready for an inevitable recession.

How leadership impacts small business and entrepreneur workplace success.

Small businesses and entrepreneur start-ups have taken off since 2012. Workplace success is their goal across the board.

Running a business isn’t easy. That’s why you need the right leaders for your team. It’s not just about getting anyone who has basic experience. It’s about finding leaders that instill positive workforce behavior that result in workplace success in every aspect of their position.

But what happens if a recession does hit? Economic downturns can occur. Not being ready for them is hazardous to any business–big or small. As a result, skilled leadership becomes even more important.

Recessions are nothing new to the United States economy. What we have learned since the great recession is that sound leadership offers advantages. Quality leaders understand how to communicate workplace success. They coach and develop their employees. They lead employees in problem solving. They also resolve conflict in collaborative ways. Best of all, they would never consider downsizing employees without a transparent company-wide conversation on the options. It is an inferior and untrustworthy leader that surprises employees with pink slips. 

Is preparing for a recession really promoting workplace success?

Leaders who prepare for economic bumps in the road often instill visible behaviors in their departments. These behaviors are research based, measurable in group performance and build cooperation among employees and departments. Constructive behaviors like these are anchored by group norm principles such as trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk and success. You can remember them by the acronym TIGERS®. With group norm principles like these in place, leaders can do much more for their employees and make their companies more stable.

These six TIGERS principles are also required to build high performance teams and work groups that are both productive and cost-effective. When your work teams lack any one of the six principles, predictable problems arise. This is why leaders who do not prepare their employees for economic downturns and instead deliver pink slips ruin employee engagement and loyalty. They sever group norms such as trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, and risk resolution.  The results are devastating to surviving employees’ morale.

Workplace success will not develop when the right leaders are not in place. This is certainly true when you’re faced with the possibility of downsizing during economic downturns. 

Why preparation is sensible to instill workplace success.

It’s not easy to prepare for a recession. Recessions, however, are nothing new. The United States has faced a total of 16 recessions and one depression since 1797. Unfortunately, they are occurring with greater frequency now. This means that we can look at employee retention, engagement and workplace success from cause and effect standards.

A recent survey found that a majority of Americans (56 percent) are worried about a recession hitting this year. Almost two-thirds (68 percent) have already begun to take actions to prepare for the hit.

But, what about business?

A recession hits a company where it hurts. When employee morale is down, expect to see negative work culture behavior. Those that have lost faith in their company are disengaged. Their work ethic suffers. This leaves a lasting impact on the entire business. Then when the recession is over, expect high turnover. There goes your talent.

Leaders who are prepared for this challenge, on the other hand, are the best people for the job. Your new leaders might not have experienced a recession before. Therefore, they simply need to know how to maintain trust during disappointing times.

When skilled leaders bring employees to the problem solving table to help determine transparent recession repercussions, employee driven solutions emerge. Some employees might want to go on sabbatical with the promise that they can return to their jobs. Others might want to go to half-time. Others might want to job share. The key lies in understanding how to keep trust, interdependence, genuineness empathy, risk resolution and success strong and stable to keep workplace success on track.

How leaders can ready themselves for a recession that harms workplace success.

The Society for Human Resource Management recommends starting off with keeping track of the data that dictates where your business is going. Track metrics, document issues, allocate resources and evaluate programs that are ongoing. You can also track employee behavior dynamics. Keeping track is vital for business logistics.

To assess your work culture behavior, the TIGERS Workforce Behavioral Profile™ shows you the strengths and weaknesses in how trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk resolutions and success show up in your company. This data is essential to the growth of your business and how you move forward into a recession. You will know what behavior dynamics to shore up and how to improve behavior going forward.

The next step is managing staff. A good leader is flexible. She optimizes outsourcing and avoids recurring layoffs. A leader that displays these qualities ultimately attracts quality employees who are committed and accountable for workplace success.

Avoiding layoffs is crucial during a recession. It is also easier said than done. Keeping employees informed of what’s going on is the first step. Expressing gratitude for their work is the second. Having empathy for employees and understanding their financial stress is third. When these three activities are handled well, dealing with a recession is easier.

Why empathetic leaders handle recessions better and strengthen workplace success.

One of the worst things a leader can do is to have no empathy when handling employees. A rule of thumb is to flip the situation. Have the same amount of respect for an employee as you would have for yourself in a similar situation. Demonstrating positive leadership qualities that drive future workplace success is critical for company sustainability.

Considering that co-workers talk to each other, leaders who display empathy leave a positive  lasting impression with employees. For example, sharing that people who are being laid off can come back lets the employee know their work is appreciated and valued. Providing letters of recommendation for employees and helping them secure new jobs are other positive ways to handle recession lay-offs. Inviting employees to contract on continuing programs is also possible.

Recessions don’t last forever. Eventually it ends and hiring will resume as usual. Therefore, what your laid off employees have to say about your company is also important. Trust and empathy reap rewards. It makes your rehiring of quality employees more assured.

When a leader displays respect and empathy for employees during hard times, the good times roll.  People want to work for employers they believe look out for them. If you truly want to promote workplace success even when a recession is looming, this is the preferred path.

Care to dig deeper into this conversation?

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Copyright TIGERS Success Series, Inc. by Dianne Crampton

About TIGERS Success Series Group Norm Facilitator Training

High perfomance executive teamsTIGERS Success Series provides executive facilitation with a tool box that engages leaders and employees to identify the group behavior norms that improve both department and company work culture performance.  It helps organizations to re-engage employees, resolve conflict behavior and builds work relationships. When your trainers, coaches and managers are trained to use these same tools, the  tool box can be used to onboard new employees and contractors onto existing teams so behavior is understood from the get-go.  Training and Facilitation are brought to you when eight or more of your employees are enrolled.

Schedule a business call to learn more.