Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

A Recession Thank You Note

A wonderful guest post from my friend Jay Forte…

Dear Recession,

I know many people are upset with you. I am not surprised. You have made things tough for many organizations. But at the same time you have made us better. So here are ten things I wanted to thank you for:

1. For forcing us to get rid of the deadwood and the non-performing employees who felt all that was required of them was to simply show up to work. I now expect more from my employees and hire better because I have to get more done with less.

2. For the reminder that we are stronger and more profitable in some areas of our business than others, and that we should always focus on our strengths because they provide the greatest value to our customers. We are smarter now about listening to and valuing our customers and their assessment of our products and services.

3. For helping us to relearn the value of customers and the need to focus on customer loyalty, not merely satisfaction, and to never miss an opportunity to do the extraordinary. Satisfied customers don’t necessarily come back, loyal customers do. As author and service guru Jeff Gitomer says, “Customer satisfaction is worthless, customer loyalty is priceless.”

4. For reminding us that our people are our profits and that fewer of the “right” employees can consistently outperform more of the “wrong” employees. Fit matters and a greater effort to hire and retain the right employees drives greater results. We now focus on talents, passions and strengths as the key to successful hiring.

5. For a reminder that we must support an employee-focused workplace to be capable of creating a customer-focused workplace. We now are better connected to our employees’ talents, values and interests; we know them better and can better match them to their best performance areas. When employees feel supported and valued – they work in an employee-focused culture – they perform.

6. For the reminder that every employee must add value or they are not needed on the team; all employees are now held accountable for results, ideas and solutions. Employees earn their role on the team each day by the value they create and the difference they make. Period.

7. For forcing us to eliminate the barriers to communication, so that information can move more freely around the organization to accelerate action and responsiveness. Without clear, up to date information, our decisions are not the best they can be for our business, our employees and our customers.

8. For reminding us that we (management) must be more visible, more human, more approachable and more integrated in the performance of the employees; constant contact is critical to building strong relationships with employees to earn their loyalty and to know how to activate their performance. When we don’t know our employees, we don’t know how to engage and inspire their best performance – this negatively affects our bottom line.

9. For reminding us to use our employees to stay connected to our world through their worlds (social networks) as a means to grow and develop the business in a meaningful way. We need our employees to be our eyes and ears to the world and to share what they learn (which is why #7 above is so important).

10. For the lesson that even when things are tough, employees who are valued, respected and believe in what we stand for, have the reserves needed to pull through and do the extraordinary. Because we have built the very best team, a recession is nothing more than another of the daily challenges a great business faces. Tough times show us what we are capable of. Tough times are opportunities.

 I have learned many valuable lessons that somehow got forgotten in better times. You have reminded me to watch the details, own the results and inspire my people. Though I don’t need this lesson often, I am pleased to have learned it today.
Best regards,

Jay Forte

 Jay Forte, a former financial executive and corporate educator, now business consultant, speaker, life coach and author, is a nationally ranked Thought Leader and President of Humanetrics. Jay teaches organizations, managements how to attract, hire and retain today’s best talent, and individuals how to reconnect to their talents and passions to achieve extraordinary personal and professional performance.

He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition (March 2009), the on-line resources “Stand Out and Get Hired” and “The Hunt for Opportunities Success Manual,” and his new book, The Greatness Zone; Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform The World, available September 2010. His power performance tools, blogs and resources can be found at


  1. We all need reminders now and then, even though we “know” these things. Human nature being what it is, we really need–and rarely heed–these reminders when things are going well. I would recommend running this same post again about a year after the economy has recovered–which is when it will most be needed.

  2. Great thoughts – a great perpsective and drives home the truth that pain is not wasted if we learn from it. Jack’s comment brings to mind how quickly we lost our unity of spirit as a nation after 9/11. We need to take the lessons from the bad times into the good times. I believe that’s referred to as wisdom. : )

  3. Thanks for the commebnts Jack – very well siad Beverly!

  4. Thanks John! Good reminder to all of us. We come out stronger.

  5. Tony Heath says:

    I like – and copied down – the Jeff Gitomer quote “Customer satisfaction is worthless, customer loyalty is priceless.”
    Then I thought maybe this is also true: “Employee satisfaction is worthless, employee loyalty is priceless.”
    I’ve often thought that employee satisfaction is a slippery concept. What is a satisfied employee when no other jobs are available?
    Thanks for the great content, Jay, Jack, Beverly, and John!

  6. Tony – I agree. The formula for customer loyalty is very much the same formula for employee loyalty. Stats from Gallup show that 65% of employees are satisfied employees (disengaged per Gallup language – and disengaged means they do just enough not to be fired – they are just satisfied); 18% are loyal (engaged per Gallup language). What moves an employee from satisfied to loyal is when the organization fully supports the employee – they work in jobs that play to their talents and passions, they own their performance, they are held accountable for adding value and making a difference, they have training and development, etc. This makes the event an emotional event for the employee. The same goes with customers. Give them the regular experience (give them what they ask for and nothing more) they are satisfied. But this doesn’t bring them back. Give them an exceptional experience that activates them emotionally (see what Dr John Fleming presents about this in the book “Human Sigma”) and the customer sees and appreciates the difference; this emotional connection inspires loyalty. How employees and customers feel now influences loyalty.

    • Jay — thanks for the superb feedback — your guest post has been very popular — well done and thank you!!