How to transition from survival mode to a growth model

When a business is experiencing hardships, it will face fiscal issues, low morale and more turnover. But as a C-suite manager for a struggling business, there are steps you can take.

Taking care of the finances

The first issue is the lack of finances. It is easier to focus on your team and building them to be better, but having a team requires capital, and capital can be hard to come by, especially at a business in survival mode.

To stretch your budget, begin tracking your department’s finances daily. Finance departments can take weeks or months to provide data on your finances. It’s far easier to stay on budget with real-time, up-to-date numbers that you track yourself daily.

Then, don’t delay purchases when it isn’t necessary. If you haven’t spent your purchasing budget by February, the finance director may take the funds from you and transfer them to a different department, or they may think that you’re padding your budget, which will result in them reducing your upcoming budget requests. A good rule of thumb is that if you need something for your department and it is budgeted for, have your staff carry out the purchase sooner, rather than later.

Another way to make your budget more reasonable is to have the head of each division watch and present the time and money spent for employees. Have them explain any overtime or other overages in front of colleagues to make this extra spending transparent and to hold each head of division accountable for their own employees.

Boosting morale

When the finances are taken care of, it should increase employee morale. This chart shows turnover rate at various industries was very high last year.

2016 Total Turnover
All industries: 17.8 percent
Banking and finance: 18.1 percent
Health care: 19.9 percent
Hospitality: 28.6 percent
Insurance: 12.2 percent
Manufacturing and distribution: 16 percent
Not-for-profit: 15.7 percent
Services: 16.8 percent
Utilities: 8.8 percent

High turnover rate must be communicated to the top executives as dollars rather than just as a percent so they can better understand how drastic it is. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, on average it costs a company $4,129 per new employee. Turnover rate is a big opportunity for C-suite managers because it is easier (and cheaper) to grow your existing team that knows the industry and the work versus spending time interviewing and training new employees.

A solution to this problem is stay interviews. These are described as, “An opportunity to build trust with employees and a chance to assess the degree of employee satisfaction and engagement that exists in a department or company.” Exit interviews can be effective if you actually take the feedback and begin to apply it, but by then it is too late. Stay interviews are a way to make changes and improve upon your employee’s experience with your company before they leave.

The top three stay interview questions are, “What do you look forward to when you come to work each day?,” “What motivates (or demotivates) you?” or “What would make your job more satisfying?”


Turning your company into a growth model can take place within the C-suite. If you take these steps to get your finances back up and your turnover rate down, the result will be motivated employees who wish to help you keep growing your business and an overall better work environment.


Michele Cuthbert is the CEO and creator of Baker Creative, a global WBE-certified creative brand management firm based in Ohio.