In the process of defining your organization's present and future state (see #1, above), you and your leadership team will have identified your best employees. It is especially important during downturns to motivate these employees. It is precisely during times of strife when the best employees are most needed--not only to ensure that work is accomplished efficiently and effectively, but also to motivate their fellow employees. This process begins at the top.
You'll need to focus on compensation and recognition to motivate such employees. Compensation might be difficult to maximize during a downturn, of course, as budgetary constraints can necessitate that employees forgo bonuses or salary increases. That's why a comprehensive recognition program is needed.
Good work should be identified and celebrated, and it is important that such celebration happen in a manner that makes employees comfortable and, therefore, motivated. (You may be surprised how often the manner in which an employee is recognized -- pulling a shy employee up in front of hundreds of people, for instance -- might turn what is intended to be a special moment into an unpleasant one.)
You'll also want to focus on a range of retention activities. These can include providing mentoring and career-planning forums; offering training so employees feel that they are improving their skills; and assigning the best employees to do the most interesting work.
Tough times require strong cross-IT communications to deal with potential angst among employees. Uncertainty can breed discontent, and you'll want to counter this with a solid, regular flow of information, including the creation of forums through which anxious employees can ask questions.
ADP's Capone, who has the IT departments of many different business lines reporting through to him, speaks of the need to create consistent communications across the company: "We have used a variety of media in order to get our message out across IT, whether it is through Enterprise 2.0 tools like blogs, or old-fashioned but effective Town Halls. The key is to communicate often and consistently."
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