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经济下行时期的三大管理法则|双语阅读

来源:互联网添加时间:2020/05/01

有机构预测,2020年由新冠肺炎疫情所导致的损失可能比2008年全球金融危机更为严重,甚至引发经济衰退,企业家必须为此做好准备。中欧国际工商学院创业学教授方睿哲(Ramakrishna Velamuri)长期观察和研究经济衰退现象,在他看来,企业管理者要想平稳度过经济风暴,必须削减成本,维持产能;更加关注现金流的重要性,同时与利益相关者积极沟通。危难常与机遇并存,对管理者而言,此刻以正确的方式积蓄能量,也能够为下一轮的经济增长提前做好充足准备。今天这篇文章,我们在音频、文字方面为你双语呈现。

The world has seen many recessions, some of them very deep, such as the one in 2008 caused by the crisis in the banking and financial services industry. There are predictions coming from organisations such as the IMF that the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic could be even worse than the 2008 one. In this situation, how can entrepreneurs and company managers think about navigating through the economic storm?

世界上发生过多次经济衰退,有一些还颇为严重,比如2008年由次贷危机引发的全球金融危机。国际货币基金组织(IMF)等机构预测,此次由新冠肺炎疫情引发的危机可能会比2008年那次更为严重。若不幸言中,为了平稳度过这次经济风暴,企业家和管理者应该如何进行思考呢?

Recessions are characterised by sharp drops in demand (in some highly cyclical industries, it is not unusual to see demand collapse by 50%-70%), sharp increases in receivables due to customer distress (especially in B2B industries where customers delay payments and sometimes stop paying altogether, often because their customers are doing the same), and inventory build-up – all of which lead to debt build-up, which in turn leads to higher interest expenses. As a result of this combination of negative factors, many companies suffer significant losses.

经济衰退的典型标志主要有三点:第一,需求陡降。在一些高度周期性的行业中,需求量下降50%-70%并不鲜见。第二,客户资金紧张造成企业应收款项骤增。在B2B行业,这个问题尤其突出。企业客户延迟付款,有时甚至完全停止付款,背后的原因通常是它们的客户也采取了同样做法。第三,库存积压。以上因素都会导致企业债务增加、利息支出上升。种种负面因素综合起来,就会致使许多公司蒙受重大损失。

It is not at all easy managing in such situations. Managers must prepare for pressure from many different stakeholder groups. Based on the experiences of past recessions, we can define certain rules of thumb.

在这种情况下,管理好企业绝非易事。管理者必须做好准备,面对来自不同利益相关群体的压力。从过去应对经济衰退的经验中,我们总结出了以下应对法则:

Reduce costs, without reducing capabilities: During periods of economic growth, companies typically become lax about controlling costs. In the euphoria of good times, bad habits creep in, in the form of unnecessary travel, unnecessary entertainment expenses, less-than-sound investment decisions, and poorly thought through diversification initiatives. An economic downturn is a good time to revisit all these points. I believe that every organisation can save 10-15% of their costs without making deep structural changes and without large scale layoffs. Laying off people on a large scale should be avoided as much as possible, because with the loss of people, capabilities are lost too, which leaves organisations poorly prepared for the economic rebound – something which will happen sooner or later. If human resource costs need to be cut, the pain can be distributed across the workforce. As a rule, the highest earners should take the biggest percentage cuts and the lowest earners the lowest. Managers, by practicing what they preach, can signal trust to the entire workforce. The crisis can thus be a great opportunity to strengthen the bonds between the workforce and the organisation.

一、削减成本,维持产能。在经济增长时期,企业通常会疏于控制成本。当发展顺风顺水时,一些坏习惯也会随之滋生,如不必要的差旅、不必要的招待、不稳健的投资决策、草率采取的多样化举措等。经济衰退为审视和反思这些问题提供了良好契机。我相信每一个组织,在不进行深度结构调整和大规模裁员的情况下,都能节省10%-15%的成本。应该尽可能避免大规模裁员,因为随着员工的流失,产能也会流失,企业无法为后续的经济反弹做好充足准备。如果需要削减人力成本,那么所有员工都应该有难同当。一般来说,收入高的群体降薪幅度可以大一点,收入低的群体降薪幅度应当小一点。管理者以身作则、言行一致,可以向全体员工传递信心。因此,危机也是拉近劳资双方关系的好机会。

If the organisation has recently undertaken unrelated product diversification initiatives, which require further investments and are not yet generating cash flow, managers can think about putting these on the back burner without necessarily cancelling them. A downturn requires managers to focus on survival first and prioritise activities that can generate cash flow. Geographic diversification is a different matter. If your existing range of products can be exported to markets that you have not explored to date and that may not be as badly affected by the economic downturn, then you can contact distributors in these markets to generate much needed sales.

如果企业近期采取了与疫情无关的产品多样化举措,而这些举措还需要进一步投资且尚未产生现金流,那么管理者可以考虑将这些举措暂时搁置,但不一定要取消。经济下行时,管理者需要将关注点放在谋生存上,并且优先考虑能产生现金流的生产活动。地域多样化则是另一回事。如果现有产品可以出口到尚未探索过的市场,并且这些市场并没有受到经济衰退的严重打击,那么公司就可以联系这些市场的分销商,以获得急需的营收。

There are certain key areas, such as product development for existing markets, where cutbacks should be avoided. This is because you want your organisation to be in pole position when there is an economic recovery.

在一些关键领域,比如为现有市场开发产品,是应该避免缩减开支的,因为这能让企业在未来经济复苏时处于比竞争对手更有利的位置。

Focus on cash generation: There must be a dedicated team chasing payments from customers. Past experience tells us that customers do pay from time to time, but they may not be able to settle all the outstanding dues of all their suppliers at once. They may end up making partial payments because they need continued supplies. In these circumstances, if you do not ask insistently, you will not get paid.

二、关注产生现金。企业必须设立专门的工作组向客户追讨欠款。过去的经验告诉我们,客户的确会时不时付钱,但可能无法一次性结清所有的应付款项。它们只会支付部分款项,以获得持续供货。在这种情况下,如果不坚持追讨,就可能无法获得应收款项。

Try to sell your inventories, even if you have to discount your prices, particularly to new customers in new geographic markets. During these times, cash flow should take priority over profitability. You can offer generous discounts for up-front payments (i.e., no credit).

要尝试将库存商品售卖给新区域市场的新客户,即使不得不打折。在特殊时期,现金流比收益率更重要。对支付预付款的客户可以给予优惠,以减少赊欠。

If your company owns assets (such as buildings) and you are under enormous cash flow pressure, you may think about selling the assets and leasing them back. If you have business units that do not have strong synergies with your mainstream business, you may decide to sell them to generate much needed cash, although in a downturn your price realisation may be significantly lower.

如果公司拥有房地产等资产而又急需现金流,可以考虑售卖这些资产并回租。如果公司的一些业务部门与主营业务并没有太强的协同效应,可以考虑出售它们,以获取急需的现金,尽管在经济下行时,成交价可能会低很多。

Communicate proactively with your stakeholders: Be positive and convey that you will support them. With employees, I have found that bad news is more bearable than uncertainty caused by lack of communication. Thus, if you feel that a salary reduction is unavoidable, communicate it clearly and sincerely and explain the reasons why it is necessary. As mentioned earlier, try to be equitable and make sure that the pain is spread across the organisation. Keep in touch with your customers and try to understand how you can serve them better in these difficult times. Any initiatives you can take that can help them reduce costs and generate revenues will be welcomed by them. You may also need to delay payments to your suppliers. Communicate with them the reasons for the delay and reassure them that you will pay the outstanding dues. Many companies underestimate the importance of suppliers, who are important sources of technology, market intelligence and trade credit. It is as important to maintain supplier relationships as it is to maintain customer and employee relationships.

三、与利益相关者积极沟通。要保持积极的态度,并传递对他们的支持。对员工来说,缺乏沟通造成的不确定性有时比坏消息更难以接受。因此,如果减薪势在必行,就清晰而诚恳地说明这一点,并且清楚解释为什么必须减薪,要尽量做到公平公正,整个组织有难同当。同时,要和客户保持联系,并思考如何在困难时期更好地为它们提供服务,任何可以帮助它们减少成本并创造营收的举措,都会受到它们的欢迎。如果企业需要推迟向供应商付款,应当告知它们延迟的原因,并保证会支付欠款。供应商是技术、市场情报和商业信用的重要来源,但许多公司低估了它们的重要性。因此可以说,维护供应商关系,与维护客户、雇员关系同等重要。

In summary, managing during economic downturns is not pleasant but it is an integral part of a manager’s job. By being practical and courageous in your decision making and straightforward in your communication with your stakeholders, you can weather the storm and be prepared for the next burst of economic growth.

总之,在经济下行时期管理好企业并非易事,但这是管理工作的一部分。只有在决策时保持务实和勇敢的态度,在与利益相关方交流时保持坦诚,你才可以渡过难关,为下一轮的经济增长做好准备。