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Staffing industry recruiting news, advice and thought leadership.

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Staffing industry recruiting news, advice and thought leadership.

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Fourth Quarter Rally: How to Measure Success in Uncertain Times

As the economy slows, sales and wins may slow as well.

Team members who were killing it six or eight months ago may struggle to make their numbers. Managers must be prepared to make adjustments to acknowledge the new economic reality and keep the team from becoming demoralized.  

This can be one of the most challenging leadership assignments; it’s difficult to imagine your company succeeding when standard measurements and long-established goals are not being met. But because the length and depth of any economic slowdown are unknown, it’s a mistake to put your goals on hold simply. Or worse, to let everyone continue in a state of constant failure. 

Wise leaders will use this period as an opportunity to test the organization’s foundation and determine what actions will set up success for the future. You may not be able to be as profitable as you have been. But you may be able to make up that loss by doing some things exceptionally well right now that will enable you to outperform your competition when the economy starts turning around again. 


1. Redefine Success for the Near Term  

Create goals and numbers that can be measured immediately. Communicate those new measurements to reassure your beleaguered and frustrated employees that they are doing the right things right now and are positioning themselves for good results. 

 2. Define Each Job Component  

For each role within your team, peel back the onion and break the job into definable pieces. Where sales are unattainable, move away from revenue-based activity to value-based activity. Finding ways for your customers to see you as valuable will pay dividends in the future. Your team will be top of mind when business picks up again. 

For each component, set goals that are realistic and measurable. Help your employees connect the dots to long-term success goals, such as customer retention or providing value-added services that may not result in immediate sales but build stronger relationships.  

3. Focus on Growth and Effort  

Use new standards of measurements in slow times versus boom times. Acknowledge success based on growth and effort. Create incentives for staff members to attend training, achieve certifications, or cross-train within the company. The skills they master will make them more valuable when they return to growing the business. 

Slower times also provide great opportunities to do all the activities you never have time for. Review and update your policy manual. Call vendors and have a deep discussion about how you can streamline communication and improve outcomes. Check-in with employees and do stay interviews.

This is also the time to find new ways to reward success and effort. You may not have the financial resources to pay bonuses or continue the other perks employees used to. But you can invest in human-to-human connections that may be more rewarding than you think. 

The value of a thoughtful, hand-written note cannot be overlooked. Taking the time to tell an employee what makes them special and what you appreciate about their effort is rare, and it’s bound to make a lasting impression. The entire team might acknowledge an extraordinary effort.  

Public praise is always welcome; using staff meetings, conference calls or company sites like Slack to shout out for special effort will remind people that they don’t just work for a paycheck; they’re also making a difference and getting appreciation for it.  

A 2022 poll of 2,000 workers by Bonusly.com found that 46 percent of workers have left a job because they felt unappreciated. In uncertain times, you can be certain that your attention and praise matter more than ever.  

Fourth Quarter Rally: Blog Series on Strategies for Winning During Confusing Times

Our current blog series, Fourth Quarter Rally: Winning During Confusing Times, will examine what is happening in the marketplace and how you capitalize on growth while preparing for a recession. We’ll be bringing you people strategies for both “Thrive” and “Survive” modes and ways to get back in touch with your core values and use them as guideposts for good times and not-so-good times.

We will also talk a little tough about the realities ahead because success is a good deodorant. When things get tough, you will soon know if there is anything rotten that needs to be addressed.  Our advice is to do those assessments now while things are good. Take advantage of the fourth quarter to continue to win while ensuring your team is the right one with the right talent to play the game well when times get harder.

About the Author:

Rich Thompson, CEO of XPG Recruit, is an expert on staffing, human resources, training and leadership development.  He is also a former All-Big Ten football player for the University of Wisconsin.  XPG Recruit provides recruiting for staffing companies.  The XPG Recruit Athlete division places former athletes into business careers and works closely with universities through its sister company, Podium X.