I Feel Your Pain

By Darrin Tonsfeldt
The Village Business Institute“

I feel your pain” was a line often attributed to Bill Clinton during better economic times than we are now experiencing. Today, despite lower U.S. Initial Jobless Claims (Dept. of Labor), banks with solid financial performance, and a large number of corporations flush with cash, the U.S.stock market is reeling and rolling down hill. In its tumbling wake goes the confidence of consumers which ultimately impacts the demand for goods and the economy’s potential for creating jobs. Employers have been left with an uncertain and unpredictable political and regulatory landscape managed by bureaucrats interested only in creating more rules and bureaucracies, and politicians either unwilling or too inept to deal with the issues at hand.

As employers, how do we help our employees and ourselves navigate through this economic tempest and still manage to put out a product or service? Too many employers are reacting by cutting training, reducing benefits, not filling positions and, worse yet, shipping off jobs to places where a subsistence wage is considered good and the people working for them can’t even afford to purchase the products or services they are providing. Of course not all employers do this and there are sound business reasons to expand the production of products and services to other countries. As in most things, how this is done indicates the difference between an employer who is simply a profiteer versus one who builds and cares for its workforce regardless of location.

There are certain things all living systems need to be successful and thrive, whether it involves individuals or a complex network of employees. Number one is good executive functioning where leaders think clearly, integrate, and articulate what they are thinking. Two, people need to be connected because we are social creatures and without meaningful connections we decay and die. Three, people need to have a sense of purpose greater than themselves. And four, we need to feel with some certainty we are able to care for ourselves and those we care about. It is my sense that our employees certainty about being able to care for themselves and their loved ones is the most challenged at this time.

How do we influence this anxiety of economic uncertainty? We counter it with certainty. Now more than ever, our employees need to depend on their managers and leaders to be great communicators, visionaries and purposeful in action. We need to lead by example and demonstrate care of ourselves and care for others. On an organizational level, it is about staying true to a focus on customers, both internal and external, and knowing that by doing so, the customer will than take care of the business or organization.

I am concerned that our government has lost its sense of who the customer is and regardless of who is in power, our government will remain on the course of being self-serving. Can we change that on a macro scale? Probably not. However, at the individual level, department level, c-suite level, we as leaders can influence and create some certainty for our employees in these uncertain times. Being a stable force can be challenging to even the most skilled leaders. If you are dealing with issues of uncertainty in your organization, The Village Business Institute has services and resources that can help. Contact The Village Business Institute at 1-800-627-8220 or www.theVBI.com.

About the blogger
Darrin Tonsfeldt has a background of program administration, employee supervision, and clinical experience, as well as 20 years of experience in organization consulting and planning. He provides oversight of The Village Business Institute, Regional Counseling Services, and Financial Resource Center programs. He also provides consulting services that include strategic planning; career, leadership, management, and executive coaching; corporate training and group facilitation; crisis response in the workplace; and organizational consulting.

1 Response

  1. A lot can be said about employers and what they should or should not be doing in terms of hiring or not hiring these days. I think what some people miss is the fact that the nature of business is to create a profit, everything else is a happy side benefit. I like to help people out, but if I cut my own throat in the process the risk of being an entrepreneur is just not worth it.

    I saw a sign that said “People Over Profits”, as a business owner, my sign would say “If I Don’t Make A Profit, There Are No People”. End of story. Profit dollars drive new sales, investment, infrastructure and allow the employees to enjoy the benefits of their work. If the profit disappears, so does the need for employees.

    Businesses are here to provide products and services, in order for them to do that, they need someone to BUY something. In our case, of a free market economy, this means consumers.

    If a consumer does not buy my product/service at the price I am selling it for, either I need to find a way to reduce my costs to provide the product/service at a price they will buy it for, or go out of business because I cannot sell anything.

    You can cut costs many ways to be competitive, in the case of products, labor costs for the production of the product are a main driver, I don’t see why people cannot understand why businesses go over seas to hire, where you spend less money to produce your product so people in the US will BUY it.

    I’m not going to hire anyone if I know there are not going to be enough dollars in future sales/revenue to support the new employee, no matter how many profit dollars I have banked in the past. I am just providing a welfare program at that point and throwing money away if I do.

    So, the masses of Wal-Mart shoppers need to wake up and stop spending money on imported goods from cheap labor and re-direct their dollars to US based companies who hire US workers. Good luck, nobody cares, people want big product/service benefits, for the least amount of money possible.

    Isn’t it sad that the biggest business and net worth in the US belongs to a discount store?

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