Sacrificing Company Culture Puts Market Share at Risk

Recognize This: Commitment to your company culture cannot rise and fall with economy.

During the recession, many companies took harsh actions they likely had no choice but to do. But many others took similar actions out of fear or even greed.

Those who were able to stay the course, however, are now working from a much stronger economic position today. For example, Panera Bread’s Executive Chairman and Founder Ronald Shaich explained their approach:

“We've continued to invest in labor in our caf├ęs and the quality of our people. We've invested in the quality of the food. When everybody pulled back and we did more, the difference between us and our competitors went up. And we've been taking market share. We had near double-digit [same-store sales] for over a year now. The stock has tripled in the recession.

By staying the course in its commitment to its culture – the behaviors and actions that make the company work – Panera Bread is now taking the lead in its industry, even through a recession. This is not surprising, based on research I’ve written about before:
“With extreme downsizes (in workforce) in the long term, companies really do suffer relative to competitors in the same industry facing the same sets of economic conditions. Extreme downsizers are companies that cut their workforce by more than 20 percent. … Most of them lag their industry for as long as nine years after a recession.”

Can you afford to lose market position for 9 years? Did your company take drastic (or even moderate) actions in the recession? What effects are you seeing in your colleagues? Do you see any improvement as the economy improves or are the effects lingering?

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