Back to Blog

Recession Proofing Your Organization - Part 1 of 5

Jan 02, 2023

Let's be honest. No one wants to think about an economic recession. But one is coming. If not next year, then sometime in the future.

For the next several weeks I want to focus on how to "recession proof" your organization. I know that it is impossible to completely "recession proof" your organization, where there is absolutely no impact at all, but you may be surprised at how much you can do to thrive, not just survive during a recession.

I am sure we have all heard that there are specific things you can do to make that happen:

  • Build up a financial war chest
  • Don't over leverage your organization
  • Cut expenses
  • Put in place controls on the use of resources
  • Ensure every major purchase brings value as rapidly as possible

Those are on the financial and controls side. Spoiler alert: Focusing just on the financial side, coming at this from an accounting perspective alone will NOT recession proof your organization. Are the financials important? Absolutely. But they are not the total answer. As a matter of fact, good financials are an outcome of good performance and accountability throughout the organization.

What about the opportunity side?

  • What competitors can you take market share from?
  • What new talent has come on the market that could benefit your organization?
  • What innovations could bring you new revenue streams?
  • What pivot points can you rapidly deploy?

You have probably heard the phrase, "The best defense is a good offense." I have heard the opposite as well, "The best offense is a good defense."

For this series on recession proofing your organization, I want to focus on the opportunities. What does each of these (and the many that have not been mentioned) have in common? Every one of these opportunities depends on people. Specifically, how equipped and prepared are your people to engage and contribute?

Success Pathway

The Success Pathway for recession proofing your organization starts with foundational building blocks:

  • A culture of accountability (this is huge!)
  • A workplace where honest discussions are welcome and practiced
  • Where everyone has a voice
  • Where learning and development are a priority, not an after thought
  • An engaged, agile, resilient, and vital (think energy levels) work force
  • Where everyone is a leader, even if they are only leading themselves
  • Where connection, collaboration, and trust are abundant

I am sure you can think of others to add to this list. When these foundational elements are in place, the possibilities are almost without limit.

Areas of Focus

This series will provide practical applications to recession proof your organization by equipping and empowering your people so they can execute and contribute at their highest levels. We will explore:

  1. The power of people and opportunity (today's focus)
  2. Assess where you are right now
  3. Deciding on your Success Pathway and plan
  4. Align everyone and everything
  5. Take action

The Power of People

People impact outcomes/results. People are the most important asset any organization has. Then why do so many organizations fail to invest in the growth and development of their people? I have seen a few thousand dollar investment in people turn into hundreds of thousands of dollars of ROI. Where else can you get that kind of return on investment?

IMPORTANT NOTE: Investing in the growth and development of your people is one of the best ways to recession proof your organization. You retain your top talent by investing in them, you create new skill sets you have not previously had, you increase agility and resilience, you reduce burnout, you foster connection and innovation...what an amazing impact a simple investment in your people can make!

Opportunities in a Recession

Again, I know this may sound counter intuitive, but if you look back to periods of economic downturn in the past, I believe you could identify things that you or your organization could have done, or maybe did do, to gain an advantage. How can that happen? First, by removing the mental roadblocks.

I have been helping people grow and develop themselves for decades. One thing has become very clear. The vast majority of roadblocks people face are self imposed. Where does that come from? Emotional detractors like fear, doubt, anxiety, worry, and stress.

Quick exercise:

  • Part 1 - Think of a time recently when you felt blocked. You felt stuck and were struggling to move forward. What were you thinking? What were you feeling? What decisions did you put off? Now, focus on what you were feeling in that situation. Can you name those feelings? When you can name them, what normally happens to you when you have those feelings (emotions)? How did you get past that block - or what could you do to get past that block?
  • Part 2 - Think of a change you want to make now either in your work or personal life. What are your thoughts about that change? What are your feelings about the change you want to make? Are those emotions helping you move forward (emotional driver) or holding you back (emotional detractor)? What could you do to turn your emotional detractors into emotional drivers?

There is no one right answer for everyone. Just as we are all unique individuals, our challenges are unique to us.

There is one answer that will help just about everyone. If you feel stuck or blocked, then do something different. Start with researching your challenge. Learn new skills or gain new knowledge. We all know the definition of insanity that is so popular...keep doing the same things and expect a different result.

This same approach applies directly to recession proofing our organizations. The very nature of a recession environment will add to the emotional load people carry. Equip people to prosper by investing in emotional intelligence skill development. That would be a great place to start. Empower people to remove their roadblocks and create a winning mindset.

Action Steps for Recession Proofing Your Organization

Remember the Success Pathway we explored earlier? Those are things you can control. You can:

  1. Assess where you are today and what you will need going forward
  2. Create a culture of ownership and accountability
  3. Reward and reinforce practices that foster collaboration and innovation
  4. Commit to developing a psychologically safe work environment, where people can feel safe to have honest discussions
  5. Consider changing from traditional "performance management" models to a contribution model of performance, where people have a voice in their expectations and goals
  6. Recognize and reward leadership wherever you see it
  7. Celebrate wins

All of these action steps, when done well, will generate the energy and focus needed to face the next challenge or take advantage of the next opportunity. That is how you begin to recession proof your organization!

 For more, check out our other resources:

EQFIT® YouTube Channel


EQFIT® Podcast

 Copyright © 2023 EQFIT® - Author: Steven Goodner. All rights reserved. No portion of this material may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law. For permissions contact: [email protected]

Don't miss a beat!

New tips, motivation, and releases delivered to your inbox. 

It's free, and you can unsubscribe at any time!