The economic upturn is coming. We are already beginning to see signs of improvement in the wider market and among our own customer base of some of the world’s largest organizations. But even as we see these positive indicators, we are reminded that employment numbers are a lagging indicator and not likely to recover for a quarter or two after general economic rebound.

So how do you face down your challenges and keep your employees engaged to ensure you are well positioned to gain market share in the upturn? Gallup recently issued “What Leaders Must Do Next” from which I’ve gleaned the following action list:

1) Empathize – “Leaders need to remind everyone that they’re all in it together”
2) Give a sense of purpose – “You need to encourage a spirit of sharing and of a common purpose so that folks can move forward.”
3) Tell the “future” story – “Articulate a consistent and pervasive message that the changes the organization is going through will bring long-term growth and viability.”
4) Partner with your staff – “To align employees with leadership’s vision and get to the outcomes you want – all while fostering engagement – leaders must make workers partners in the strategy.”
5) Be optimistic – “”A good way to prove your optimism is to double down on people and products. Under these conditions, think how to best use the bandwidth you have to prepare for the future. It will give you a payoff when the economy comes back. It will show your people today that you believe in the future of the company — and that you’re ready to meet it when it arrives.”

In its June issue, HRFocus offered an additional three tips that prepare for the upturn – refocus your strategy, continue to address culture and become resilient – all of which fit into the five actions above.

Every company that expects to grow and thrive has a one, three and five year strategic plan. Unfortunately, events like the current recession often cause those plans to be thrown out the window as unexpected actions such as layoffs or product realignments become urgent. But now is the time to retrieve those plans, create the story of the future, share it with your teams, partner with them to make it reality and, most importantly, show them you believe in the future and in them. Tell them you appreciate their efforts.

What else is on your action list?

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