A: 'It's hard, unrelenting,' said a client of mine recently. The boss of a sales organisation, he's used to having his order book 75% sold at the start of each month. He now has twice as much inventory to shift in a competitive marketplace, with all his best customers feeling the squeeze. He's old enough to have been affected by the bursting dot.com bubble and the downturn of 1991-92, yet these experiences didn't seem much help in managing the current situation better.
Managing when business is booming is easy: many a weak manager has been carried forward by the momentum of the market. But it's different when the chips are down; achieving high performance becomes a real test of your capabilities. So you're wise to recognise that more is required of you - not necessarily different skills, but a greater fluency in using the basics.
The starting place is morale. Low morale and a fear of making mistakes can put a real brake on productivity, just when you need extra effort. You can improve this by word and deed: communication needs to be regular, clear and upbeat.