This has been a year of extremes in the labor market. To start 2021, Sales Talent Agency reported there were 47,000 more sales jobs posted at start-ups than there were people to fill them. Now, there are 12,000 more candidates than open sales roles.
The Great Resignation saw millions of Americans leave their jobs, fed up with workplaces that offered few opportunities to grow and created cultures of stagnation. Now, we are perhaps in the midst of a Great Reset, as TechCrunch coined it. As venture capitalists pull back on funding, the flood of cash we’ve seen enter the market the past few years is no longer. Inflation is surging, executives are under pressure to produce profitability, and already we’ve seen layoffs across major tech companies, including Netflix, Better, Hopin, and many more.
This all begs the question: How can you ensure your employees will stay by your side during these uncertain times?
As my friend and The New York Times bestselling author Dan Pink says, there are three things that drive motivation: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Your team wants to know the purpose with which they operate. I feel strongly that establishing core values for your business and using those values to make decisions provide that purpose. That’s a topic of discussion for another time, but it’s an important piece of the puzzle.
In this article, however, I want to focus more on mastery and autonomy. I think both of these are predicated on support. If you give your team the right tools and systems, they can master the skills you need, be able to work independently, and feel accomplished in what they do.
Invest in Your Team
With the current market of economic uncertainty and a pullback in funding, hiring is off the table for many businesses. Growth targets, however, remain the same. So, how can you do more with your existing team while still making them feel like they have mastery, autonomy, and purpose in their career?
Here are a few ways you can invest in your team, developing a culture of learning and growth.
Reframe your Mindset
Every crisis is an opportunity but only if you have the right mindset. Taking a step forward when others are taking a step back will put your team in a position of growth and unlock more than you thought possible. This change needs to start at the top with a leadership team aligned with a growth mindset. It’s easy to be reactionary and make shortsighted decisions in the face of uncertainty, but business—and life—is a long-term game. When you reframe your mindset to come from a place of abundance and generosity, you will look at challenges in a new light and come up with innovative solutions to accelerate growth, even while others are slowing.
Focus on Empathy
Once you’ve shifted into the right frame of mind, you might notice something important—namely that companies with the wrong emphasis are too inward-looking and focused exclusively on what a possible recession might mean for them. Focusing on growth also means moving away from an inward view and instead empathizing with your customers. Force your organization to project itself into the minds of its customers first and foremost to ensure you are seeking to be of service and value rather than contracting in the face of adversity.
Tap into Your Peers
Now is the time to build your network and get feedback from peers on what’s working and what isn’t. You can help each other navigate this time together, seek out answers to challenges you haven’t faced before, and gain a new perspective on your work.
Outsource Career Enablement
Your team needs support, but enabling each individual member is impossible for anyone to do on their own. Consider investing in programs and services aimed at helping corporate members tap into structured training programs and development opportunities they couldn’t get internally—and you don’t have to manage them.
Rise to the Opportunity
This is your chance to rise to the occasion and deliver X + Y. Go beyond just reacting to a situation, and see the opportunity before you. The thing to remember here is that quick fixes are not the answer to retaining top talent in any economy. Focusing on long-term investments in your team that allow them to clearly see the path ahead and give them ownership over their success will keep your employees motivated and create a culture of growth and learning.
Sam Jacobs is the Founder and CEO of Pavilion, a global community enabling high-growth professionals to unlock and achieve their professional potential.