Leaders Say Their Company Is Not Recession-Ready

Provo, UT – November 21, 2019 – When the next recession hits, as much as half of today’s workforce won’t be ready. According to new research from VitalSmarts, a Top 20 Leadership Training company, leaders say nearly half of their employees don’t have the necessary skills to weather a financial downturn.

The recession-readiness study asked 1,080 employees and executives to rate their company on five general skills which were thought to be most important to weathering a financial downturn. The skills examined were open dialogue, change mastery, productivity, universal accountability and leadership.

Although the 89 executives in the study rated all five skills as important to a company’s success during a recession, in their assessment, 47 percent of their employees are not sufficiently agile, persistent, or self-starting to handle a recession. Similarly, 52 percent also believed their employees lacked the skills to engage in open, productive dialogue in a way that would be needed. On the upside, executives had relatively less concern about their employees’ productivity in a financial downturn.

“As the threat of a recession looms, executives question whether their people have the skills to adapt, candidly speak up, and hold others accountable,” says David Maxfield, author of the bestseller Crucial Accountabilityand VP of Research at VitalSmarts. “Unfortunately, our research shows leaders who find their teams and organizations to be on the short-side of these skills during a recession may not only struggle to weather the recession well, they may struggle to weather it at all.”

And it turns out, leaders weren’t the only ones fearful of how their skills stack up against a financial downturn. When the 964 employees were asked about their observance of these five skill sets, they felt even their boss and other key members of the organization struggled to practice the skills.

Specifically, 52 percent of employees said their bosses did not have the skills needed to successfully navigate a recession. Only an average of 7.3 percent of employees were confident their senior leaders could plan, communicate or lead the sustainable changes needed for success.

“Will you survive the next recession, or will you thrive in it?,” prompts Maxfield’s colleague, Joseph Grenny, coauthor of Crucial Conversations. “Recession-proof companies have people—from front-line employees to executives—who can hold crucial conversations on how to stay relevant, profitable, and accountable. Interestingly, a lot of executives may not be any more prepared than their employees. Employees across the board need to be trained in these skills.”

Maxfield and Grenny outline five competencies central to recession-proofing a business and encourages leaders to inventory their own and their employees’ ability to practice these skills when under pressure.

  • Open Dialogue:The skills to engage in candiddialogue to reach alignment and agreement on important matters—especially when the stakes are high, emotions run strong and opinions differ.
  • Change Mastery:The skills to master behavior change by identifying the cues, routines and rewards that influence behavior and result in habits that propel or impede success.
  • Productivity:The skills to manage the constant flow of tasks and interruptions people face at all levels of the organization.
  • Universal Accountability:The skills to respectfully and effectively hold anyone accountable for their behavior regardless of power, position or authority.
  • Leadership:Theskills to drive high-leverage, sustainable behavior changeacross entire teams or organizations.


About VitalSmarts:Named a Top 20 Leadership Training Company, VitalSmarts is home to the award-winning Crucial Conversations®, Crucial Accountability®, Getting Things Done®, The Power of Habit®, and Influencer Training®, and New York Times best-selling books of the same titles. VitalSmarts has consulted with more than 300 of the Fortune 500 companies and trained more than 2 million people worldwide. www.vitalsmarts.com

CONTACT: Josh Bird at +1-801.461.9783,or jbird@methodcommunications.com.

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