By Gail Perry
- What does the funnel look like? What sort of forecast do we have going into the next quarter? Do I have enough business to keep going?
- Am I holding on to my current clients? Some of my work is recurring work - am I holding on to that? Is it holding steady? Is it going to grow? Have I lost some clients?
- What's happening with overall costs; are they holding steady?
- What are the business volumes that you're dealing with and what, if anything, has changed?
- To the extent that those volumes may have gone down, that could have driven someone to make a staffing change, but only if they would anticipate they were going to stay that way because there are significant costs with any kind of a reduction, just as there are with adding staff.
- If you were going to add staff, you would have to determine if there has been an uptick in your business volume or any other projects. If you're looking at a temporary uptick, you would want to look at temporary staffing before adding any permanent staff.
- Is it the case that business conditions are firming up or have reached some sort of equilibrium that the employer can be comfortable with?
- What's the impact of that cutback?
- How has that cutback affected my productivity and customer experience?
- How are my clients/customers reacting to changes I've implemented in the organization?
- How has that cutback impacted my bottom line?
- Did I get the results I was looking for in that reduction?
- Do I need to reduce more, or did I get better results from that reduction than I expected?
Cullen suggests that you take a look at what's happening with the current staff: Are they doing okay, are they getting the job done, do they seem to be falling behind?
- Check all of the above points to see if the results are proving out your suspicions. If the economy is getting better, productivity should be getting better, there should be more work to do, and revenue should be up,
- Evaluate key performance indicators to make sure they're still accurate and, if they are, what are the leading indicators telling me - should I stay this way, consider reduction, or ramp up?
- Survey results indicate that you've got some breathing room to increase your value so that you're still sitting in a good position in three months.
- Keep your network current.
- Pay close attention to competition.
- Work more closely with your client base to see what they're doing and where you can improve/solidify/reinforce your relationships.
- Take a look at your industry and see what's new and innovative, and see if you can incorporate those new tools into what you're doing - both in terms of cutting-edge and practical applications.
In addition, Glochowsky points out the importance of continuing to expand your skill set, learning new software packages, obtaining additional certifications, getting a graduate degree if you don’t have one, pursuing CPA certification - "These are always going to make you more competitive. You have to be to show you can add value."
Finally, Cullen reminds us that "everything is moving to the cloud, in terms of your knowledge base and skill set, you have to be transitioning from desktop applications to cloud-based applications." He suggests employers should make sure their staff members have access to training resources they need.