Do you remember that old poster of a kitten hanging from a tree branch by its claws and the headline, "Hang in There Baby"? I'm not trying to return to my cat theme of last post, but hell, I've been thinking of that animal an awful lot lately.
Last week I attended an industry conference in New Orleans where client after client told me how they were cutting back severely and just hoping for a turnaround in 2011. So, not only have they faced the bleak picture of 2009, but have already essentially given up on 2010. As a marketing professional this is one of those times where you need to get a little corny and say - every challenge presents an equal opportunity. (Gag - such an overused phrase). But still, it is essentially true. This is the time that you need to be even more vocal about the value you provide to your clients (or your employer). More importantly, you need to actually PROVIDE value (especially in cost-saving strategies they need). Most importantly, you need to not retreat and hide under the bed. Silence denotes surrender.
That being said, it is also a time I have to make tough calls on approving training or overtime for my staff. I also watch with concern the peaks and valleys of workload rather than the steady stream we had become used to over the past 8 years. So now I am urging my staff to dig up the old wish list - the things we think are valuable but we never seem to have the time to implement. Of course, they must be NO COST wish list items, but still...
All of our firm's numbers look good so far this year, but I think the executives see a cliff quickly approaching and they are trying to be proactive in cutting waste. We have salary freezes, hiring freezes, and promotion freezes. Essentially, it is getting cold in here! As a prime example, I had a stellar review today - really beyond the norm - but since there is no money for raises and no promotions this year, it doesn't cost the firm anything to be overwhelmingly positive and I have to accept the pat on the back for its own value, I guess.
Just when I feel like I'm about to lose my grip on that little branch however... one of my unemployed friends (yes, there are several now) emailed to tell me he has accepted a new position.
A small glimmer of hope.