The New Normal in Business

Has your business being affected by an economic downturn? This may be because of recession, Brexit or the COVID-19 pandemic. Training budgets tend to get slashed when organisations need to recoup cash - but in the post we look at why investing in training is just as important at this time - if not more important.

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The New Normal in Business

Over the past few years Britain, the US, parts of Europe and other parts of the world have been in recession. It seems now though that things are starting to stabilize, but has our businesses changed forever as a result? Is there a New Normal in Business? 

Our own business was set up at the beginning of the recession as were many others, and for us, this is all we’ve ever known. We’ve also worked with countless organisations throughout the recession period who were around for a long time before the recession who seemed to have weathered the storm. But, as we know, many businesses have been hugely affected during this period meaning some of them have had to adapt significantly, others didn’t make it at all.

The Choices Businesses Make When Times are Hard

While we’ve been working with businesses recently, it seems as though they fall into a handful of categories:

  1. The business has changed its processes, way of working, culture and attitude towards the way things are now and have accepted there is a New Normal. They understand that this is the way it is now and there is no going back.
  2. Understands that business has changed and that there may be a new normal, but holding out making any changes in the hope that things will get back to how they were.
  3. Ploughed on regardless, not made any changes and not really accepted that things have changed.

Regardless of what category they fall into, change has affected people in organisations dramatically.

How Does Change Affect People in Businesses?

This may be because the workforce has been reduced, processes made leaner to do things more efficiently, work is beginning to increase but resources haven’t through fear of it going backwards again. There are probably other countless feelings and emotions in people right now.

On our courses, we hear a lot of people saying that ‘there is much more expected of me now, but I don’t get any additional time or resource’. ‘people have left and not been replaced and we are all taking up the slack of other peoples jobs’, ‘everyone is under so much pressure’.

We’ve also found that the role of the leader has changed. Leaders in this new normal don’t just lead and manage, they also have a list of tasks to complete alongside their leadership responsibilities. This means there is less time to support, coach and develop the team.

Training and Development During an Economic Downturn

When I speak to many of my colleagues who are freelance trainers or run small training organisations they tell me that they are struggling. They all seem to say that most of their clients are slashing training budgets and they seem to say that it’s common for the training budget to go first when things get tough.

But, I have been speaking with my clients about this and in most cases, this is not true, or at least they are reducing their budgets, not getting rid of them altogether.

Not to blow my own trumpet, but to date, I haven’t struggled. I guess it’s a state of mind and the attitude you take towards the recession or downturn or whatever you want to call it.

I started my business when the recession first hit and my business plan took this into account. I spoke to many organisations as part of my research and this gave me some clear direction on what I needed to do.

I’ve always been a firm believer that any training organisation or trainer should understand exactly what the customer needs and deliver what is required, rather than pitching a range of solutions that they think the customer should have. Let’s be honest, if the customers business is struggling, they won’t want to waste money on training that doesn’t make any difference to them.

Part of my businesses philosophy is to collaborate with clients to clearly understand what they are trying to achieve in any training. Taking base measures, understanding the difference the training needs to make, what result they want to see etc is a key part of ensuring you win work from the reduced budgets that people have.

Presenting or pitching a product that meets their exact needs is key to success, ensuring that you gain business and that is something that has been working for me.

What about you? Have you been struggling to win work or are you winning? Why are you struggling and why are you winning? It would be great to hear your comments.