Don’t Get Lost in the Weeds

By Andrew Paparozzi
In September 9, 2013

The latest labor market data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) added more confusion to the already muddled state of the economic recovery. Nonfarm payrolls added 169,000 in August—not bad, but below expectations. Furthermore, gains for June and July were revised lower by a total of 74,000. The unemployment rate edged lower to 7.3% even though employment as measured in the household survey actually fell by 115,000. For various reasons, people continue to drop out of the labor force. The percent of the working age population, either working or looking for work, fell to 63.2%—its lowest level since 1978. All in all, the labor market report points to a continuation of modest economic growth. The August 2013 consensus forecast from Blue Chip Economic Indicators shows inflation-adjusted GDP rising just 1.5% this year and 2.6% in 2014.

What should we make of these data? Try not to make too much. Yes, a strong economy is better for business than a weak one. But, we have to operate within the economy we have and a dramatic change in either direction doesn’t seem likely. A continuation of modest growth is the more likely scenario. And firmly keep in mind that a robust economy is not going to be a panacea for the issues besetting the commercial printing industry. Regardless the state of business conditions, there are actions we should be taking. Among those, it is essential to get our message across. Not only to our clients, so they are aware of our capabilities, but also to our employees. Effective communication of company vision, direction, and strategy to employees is critical for successful execution. We asked State of the Industry participants: Which skills will be most important to your success over the next two to three years? Almost one-third (31.5%) cited internal communication. However, even more telling is the significant difference in the citing between NAPL industry Leaders and others. The gap was almost two to one, 51.7% vs. 26.3%.

Leaders clearly realize that not having everyone on the same page makes a difficult situation that much more complicated and effective execution that much more unlikely. As is true for most things in our industry, there are significant challenges to communicating effectively to employees. These include:

Creating a vision worth communicating. That isn’t easy given everything happening in our industry, and often requires a rigorous, disciplined strategic planning process.

Finding the time to communicate. We can’t let day-to-day and unforeseen challenges consume all our time to the exclusion of communication. Build in time to communicate just as we build in sales and production meetings.

Capturing their hearts. How do we overcome any “lack of interest beyond the next paycheck.” What can you do when employees lack vision, are resistant to change, and are looking for immediate results.

Finding the right level of detail. Too much detail and we lose people. Too little and our vision degenerates into meaningless generalities.

Getting our message across and other essential activities are more fully discussed in the upcoming NAPL State of the Industry Report, Eleventh Edition. The report is generously sponsored by KBA and will be unveiled at PRINT 13 at their booth Tuesday, September 10.

Andy Paparozzi          Joe Vincenzino

Andrew Paparozzi

Epicomm's Andrew Paparozzi, Vice President/Chief Economist, is well-known for his accurate and thoughtful discussions on the economy and US commercial printing industry. A foremost author and speaker on economic business trends in the printing industry, Paparozzi heads Epicomm's Printing Economic Research Center.

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