Business

U.S. economy sheds 17,000 jobs in January

David Liscio / The Daily ItemAccording to a report released by the Labor Department last week, the economy lost 17, 000 jobs in January. This was an expected decline that most certainly points in the direction of an American recession.”While one probably shouldn’t react too much to a single month’s data, given the vagaries of this report, I don’t think there’s much question that our conomy is going through a rough patch, inspired largely by the sub-prime fiasco and sky high oil prices,” said Bill Catlette a management consultant and author of, “Contented Cows MOOve Faster. “Employment(particularly in the manufacturing sector) will likely continue to be difficult for a bit.”That said, he offers a dozen tips for employers and employees alike.Employers are well advised in periods like this, to:1. Remember that the best way to weather turbulent times is with the willing engagement of a focused, fired-up, capably led workforce. Avoid senseless, knee-jerk reactions that are guaranteed to make workers power back a notch or two. When you do tighten the belt, remember managers bleed first.2. Don’t let fear cause your workforce to disengage. Asking people to be judicious about expenses is one thing – injecting an unnecessary dose of fear into the workplace is another. The degree to which employees are concerned about losing their jobs varies inversely with the degree to which they are concerned with doing their jobs, and taking care of customers.3. Don’t try to work your way out of a short-term earnings problem by”dumbing down” the organization. One of the first shoes to fall in aquestionable economy usually lands squarely on the organization’s training budget. If you’re doing training that isn’t vital, then you should stop it anyway, but the notion that we can somehow help the business by deferring necessary training is intellectually bankrupt. Think about that the next time you fly or have surgery.4. Don’t (repeat, don’t) stop recruiting. If anything, redouble yourrecruiting efforts. In case you didn’t notice, Warren Buffett, one of the savviest investors of all time, closed deals to buy two businesses the week before Christmas, and a third this week. He’s on a buying spree because, with a shaky economy, things are getting cheaper, to include good businesses that he’d like to add to his Berkshire Hathaway portfolio. The same principle applies to rounding up talented people. They are out there. Go find them, and start a conversation with them now.5. Don’t be afraid to talk candidly with your people about how the business is doing. The one thing that distracts people more than anything is not knowing what is going on. As psychologist Karl Jung observed, when facts are few, opinions loom large. Every minute your folks spend wondering or worrying is a minute your customers are being ignored.6. Crank up your “hi touch.” Going through a difficult economic periodimpacts more than just business interests. We’re all affected personally as well, some more than others. This is an excellent time to show that you care by spending a bit more quality time with the people on your team, listening to them, and making sure they have what they need.7. Do some good. One of the things that helps keep people’s spirits up is to be involved in a project that helps those who are less fortunate. This is an excellent time to get your team involved in a worthwhile service project, be it a charity drive, building a Habitat for Humanity house, or something else.8. Smile. That’s right, smile, and do it more often. The fact that things are getting a little shaky and people are scared (yes, you probably are, too) doesn’t overturn the principle that people prefer to associate with those who are positive and optimistic. Your smile will brighten the day of the folks around you. They’ll get more done, and feel better about it, too.If you’re an employee on the other end of this continuum, there are things you should be doing as well:9. Be productive. Translation – do your

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