Australia is NOT in a financial crisis. We’ve got the healthiest banks in the world. We’ve got zero government debt – that is, until now. Our unemployment rate is the envy of almost every other country. We’ve still got plenty of room to move on interest rates. Our biggest trading partner is already showing signs of recovery. Our financial regulations are robust and reliable. Nope, Australia is not in a financial crisis.
Australia is in a panic crisis. A new survey screams out that consumer confidence is expected to decline. So what happens? Consumer confidence declines. The same economists who failed to predict the financial crisis start to predict a recession. So what happens? A recession happens. Our government does nothing but talk doom and gloom for the past year. So what happens? More doom and gloom. Treasury officials forecast higher levels of unemployment. So what happens? Businesses either start firing or freeze hiring. Yes, Australia is in an endemic manic panic crisis.
Of course, this spills over into the relationships that managers have with their employees. Panicky managers, fearful they might be fired, start demanding and squeezing more and more out of their staff. Panicky managers, bowled over by the bottom-line, start to cut costs like a fiscal Edward Scissorhands, without realising that the first areas to get the shave are precisely what could save them. Panicky managers, responding to the altered environment around them, start to talk fast and act fast. Or worse, talk without thinking and act without thinking.
We’re told a million times in school that in times of a fire, it is best not to panic. Well, there are multiple fires burning elsewhere in the world. But we’re panicking. And this panic isn’t making the country better; it’s making it poorer. It’s making businesses struggle when they don’t have to be. It’s making consumers overly question their spending when they don’t need to be. It’s official: we’ve become a nation of drama queens.
If you’ve started more than three conversations this week that have been about the financial crisis, you are a drama queen. If your employees are worried about their jobs, it’s because you are a drama queen. If you’ve slashed spending in anticipation of what might be ahead, you’re a drama queen.
The two main areas where managers panic the most are in regards to training and marketing. As soon as times get tough, training budgets are slaughtered and marketing monies are massacred. Yet, there is no better time to be training your supervisors (and yourself) on leadership skills than this present moment. And there is no better time to be promoting your business than when your competitors are cutting their marketing dollars.
It’s time for everyone in this country to just take a big deep breath.