The phrases "circling the drain" and "downward spiral" have been used far too frequently since 2008.
Congress can't pass a budget so defense contractors must notify employees 60 days ahead of time they might get laid off.
Employees know this is coming 90 days before the 60 day notice so they become distracted, afraid and demotivated. Their productivity suffers along with morale, which increases the likelihood they'll be laid off.
Companies that sell to the defense contractors see orders get stalled or cancelled.
They push their sales staff to go harder, make deals, "get creative."
Professional salespeople feel like beggars or prostitutes and their sales decline even faster.
Management puts them on a PIP (Performance Improvement Plan), which further decreases morale and productivity.
The sales person begins looking for new work, which accelerates the decline.
In the meantime, the same sales person responds to stress by having a few drinks after work.
The bar visits make him late for dinner, which leads to stress at home.
Stress at work, stress at home, poor eating habits and increased drinking leads to poor sleep.
Poor sleep leads to him skipping the gym, which leads to weight gains and overall less vitality, which leads to even poorer work performance, which leads to a faster firing.
It doesn't have to be that way.
If you can circle the drain why can't you circle mountain.
When I visited Pikes Peak we didn't go straight up. We followed an upward spiral to the top.
When I flew gliders at the Air Force Academy, I didn't go straight up. We flew an upward spiral to a safe altitude before I released the tow rope.
Twice I was on unemployment when my wife was delivering a baby. (That's 28.5% of our births and 20% of our pregnancies!)
I could've used it as an excuse to feel sorry for myself and go off on some binge.
Instead, I used it as motivation to improve my sales, marketing and management skills.
I prepared for and built a better future. I continued to read, attend workshops, join mastermind groups, exercise, eat right, drink little, get my rest.
If you're company is going through a "rough patch" you can either circle the drain by laying off customer service personnel, slashing travel and entertainment budgets for your sales staff and pulling back on your marketing or you can throw a big towel in that drain and decide to invest.
Invest in your people.
Bring them together.
Launch better ideas.
Invigorate your people to go after market share while your weaker competitors are responding predictably and cutting back and "hunkering down."
While hunkering down may be one way to survive an avalanche, you're hoping someone smarter than you
- knows you're out there,
- wants to find you, and
- has the time and the means to find you to save you.
The other way to survive the avalanche is to get to the top and be the one that causes it.
Market like you mean it.
Now go sell something.