Government Shutdown: React, Communicate, Control

Small Business Is Open for Business During Government ShutdownSmall organizations are at extra risk during the government shutdown – you already know that. But what can you do?

1. Keep your fears at home.

Your employees need concrete information and clear communications. But don’t add to their burden by discussing your fears.

2. Grab control where you can.

A big part of this problem is the lack of control we all feel. Reduce your stress by taking control of what you can. Look for those things in your organization which you can change to help you manage through this tough spot and take action.

3. Talk to your staff.

Clear communications are critical. What are you going to do which affects them?  Tell them now.

What ideas – such as profit improvement or cost control – do you need?  Ask for everyone’s help.

4. Make decisions and execute.

Do you need to stop paying everyone on a government contract and support staff until there is work again? Do so with a clear communication. Talk about their value and how you want to retain them. Be clear on what you must do now to save the company until the return of work. Keep the communications regular once you have send everyone home on unpaid leave.

Are you in retail or otherwise facing a significant loss of business? Decide whether you need to cut hours across the board, close one day a week, reduce employee hours, or reduce employee numbers. Then take the action and clearly explain it to all employees.

More information on unemployment benefits during this time: http://www.vec.virginia.gov/

Don’t dither. Don’t play favorites.

5. Keep politics out.

Whatever your politics and how you feel about this shutdown, keep your comments and communications focused on your business and its future. You and your staff may or may not agree politically but do not add that emotional content to your communications. It will reduce their effectiveness.

Taking corrective actions now is your best focus. It will help you feel more in control. It can help focus your staff on creating ways to improve the company.  Act to protect your organization’s future.

Clear, regular communications are vital to keeping your people actively engaged with the company and to retaining those you need.

Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, HR executive, speaker, and author on human capital issues. She is known for her ability to address organizational goals and issues effectively and to create human resource management practices which support these goals without excessive administrivia. Patricia has advised executives and boards on a wide range of human capital and strategic planning issues. She has expertise in organization development, talent management, process restructuring, compensation, and training. She has worked with technology-based companies, government contractors, non-profits, associations, and retail operations. She advises small to mid-size organizations on ways to succeed and to help their employees thrive. Ms. Frame has given seminars for SBDC in recent years on the basic processes of HR management. Additionally, she generously provides one-to-one HR counseling once a month through Alexandria SBDC.

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