What are you ADJUSTING in 2014?
Posted Thursday, January 2nd, 2014
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Published in SatNews, January 2014

By Bert Sadtler, Contributing Senior Editor

For a business to reach a point of success in today’s marketplace, there needs to be an appreciation for change and an ability to make the necessary adjustments. Many years ago when dangerous dragons were prominent, dragon-slayers were in high demand. Not much call for dragon-slayers today. Did the dragon-slaying businesses evaporate or did they make the necessary adjustments to remain relevant and prosperous in today’s marketplace?

Our comments are centered around the Government Contracting community which envelops both businesses directly servicing the US Government Customer and also businesses who are suppliers and partners with Government Contractors.

For the Government Contracting businesses who made the adjustments to make it to 2014, will they be able to navigate through today’s challenges and make the right adjustments going forward?

Waiving goodbye to 2013, what will be the business trends? Can the trends be predicted and anticipated?

How much influence will Washington DC have?

Will we face another round of sequestration early in the year and will the impact be less distracting since we have already “been to this rodeo”?

Will our “Healthcare-Revolution” impact business’s focus?

Will the US Stock Market continue its 25 + percent growth from 2013 in 2014?

Will our elected political leaders continue to focus on keeping their opposition from winning or will there finally be a spirit of compromise and leadership cooperation?

How do these issues impact best practice recruiting, the opportunity to acquire top talent and the interpretation by business today on which initiatives to pursue and which ones to not pursue?

Making the right ADJUSTMENTS will define 2014.

In 2013 we witnessed large government contractors making substantial adjustments by shutting down divisions and business units in an effort to “stop the bleeding” and deliver profits through cost cutting. It appeared to be driven more by an immediate need to lower fixed labor costs and less about a long-term initiative.

However, this approach was unusual. In traditional circumstances, employers find ways to retain their very best talent during a downsizing. In 2013, entire units were shut down leaving top talent in an unemployed status and leaving remaining employees feeling uncertain with their future employment status. Will making the adjustment of shutting down an entire unit prove to be the right move? Will letting go of top talent turn into an opportunity for your competitor to hire your best talent from right under your nose?

On the other hand, the smaller government contractors have been fighting for every crumb of business in order to stay alive. With sharper survival skills than their larger counterparts, the smaller companies have not been able nor allowed themselves to add layers of management to their ranks. The smaller companies have been forced to remain leaner and possibly better positioned for a challenging government contracting marketplace. But, are the smaller companies financially positioned to take on a down period?

A commonly heard theme from the Government Customer heading into 2014 has been: “We know our suppliers have been focused on shaving their costs to us in recent years, however, in 2014 we need government contractors to provide us with more at a lower cost then before”.

Webster’s defines ADJUSTMENT as:  “Making or becoming suitable”.

If government contractors need to be more nimble, agile and more competitive than ever, is this the time for them to add critical talent with the expertise to deliver a lower cost to the Government Customer? Is this the time for business to turn their focus away from Government Contracting and towards the Commercial Sector? Or do they need to find a way to focus on both markets in parallel, having oars in both markets?

Through much of 2013, numerous government contractors elected to sit still by not making investments in pursuing new contracts, not adding new critical talent and not investing in the growth of their organization. Business culture in the US has historically driven growth through a passion and ambition to succeed. It appears counterintuitive for businesses to have chosen the road of stagnation in 2013. Nevertheless, it was a form of ADJUSTMENT or  “becoming suitable”. Will there be more confidence and less uncertainty in 2014 and a return to focusing on growth?

One line of thinking is a “Perfect Storm Scenario” which favors businesses with nimbleness, agility and the ability to make the right ADJUSTMENTS.

–       Fear and uncertainty in 2013 caused many businesses to appear paralyzed.

–       Opportunistic business may face less competition in 2014 due to stagnation.

–       Competition could also be lighter since the challenging marketplace may have driven the weakest out of business.

–       Opportunity alone will not drive success. Execution is required.

–       Top talent delivers top execution.

–       As it relates to recruiting and leadership, high quality, top level talent faced layoffs in 2013, making them immediately available.

–       For the ones currently employed, they are likely to be receptive to a role with another employer as their current employer has left them with concerns about stability of their future employment.

As this “Perfect Storm Scenario” plays out, executing on the ADJUSTMENTS will be the key.

Acquiring the right critical talent is the challenge. Due to a robust quantity of available talent, generating interest in a hiring announcement is the easy part in 2014. Abandoning a traditionally drawn out stop and go interviewing process in favor of an effective fast-track approach may prove to be the ADJUSTMENT required.

Smaller organizations are generally more nimble. They are less burdened with red tape and long internal processes. Nimble organizations are able to ADJUST more easily.

Could this “Perfect Storm Scenario” reverse the balance of power and position the smaller businesses to out-leverage the large tier-1 businesses?

While there is available talent, there is also a desire and need for the available talent to efficiently move through a hiring process toward an attractive offer. The employer needs to have planned and prepared for the hiring event.

If today’s dragon is the need to acquire the right critical talent, then the way to slay it involves having the right plan.

For the employer who can ADJUST with a well developed, fast-track hiring campaign, they may find themselves adding great talent and having an immediate competitive advantage in 2014.

Good hunting!