New skills needed to navigate through uncertain times
We are interacting for the first time after the advent of our new year Bikram Sambat 2080 on April 14.
Economy and business-wise, we are living in uncertain times. Though curbed to some extent, inflation is raging above the desired levels globally. In their desperate bid to pull down rising prices and control cost of living, Central banks have raised interest levels to unprecedented levels. In the process, the cost of capital for business enterprises has become prohibitive. Economic experts are seeing recession looming on the horizon.
Given the dire circumstances, business managers should tighten their belts for the New Year. We, in Nepal, can do little to alter global business fundamentals. But we can certainly soften the impact of the economic turmoil through innovation, teamwork, collaboration and increased digitalisation.
Resilience has been the hallmark of Nepali business. Our business captains and managers have been able to tide over far more debilitating adversities in the recent past. Hasn’t Nepal risen to health following the April 2015 earthquake – the most devastating natural disaster in recent memory?
No doubt, foreign countries and their agencies and NGOs stood by the government and administration in Nepal to offer relief in more ways than one. But Nepal’s private enterprises and their committed managers and employees too contributed significantly in reviving the country’s economy, markets and bazaars.
The World Bank has taken note of Nepal’s ability to bounce back. According to Nepal Rastra Bank, the government has the development of a knowledge-based economy as a key priority with focus on information technology and tourism.
But the risk facing us now is distinctly different in nature. Its origins are global as are its manifestations and effects. Managerial acumen is our best weapon against the challenge.
In uncertain times, financial management becomes crucial. Business managers need to focus on cash flow, debts and expenses. We are witnessing debt-laden groups and companies getting hit grievously. Therefore, it is time to use financial tools and models to forecast revenue, expenses and profitability. Let us make informed decisions.
Nepal started adopting digital technologies following the Covid pandemic. It is time to leverage cloud computing, data analytics and e-commerce to streamline operations, improve efficiency and reach new customers.
Supply chains were disrupted globally during the pandemic. The Russia-Ukraine conflict and the resultant sanctions have worsened the supply crisis. Nepal’s business managers need to reassess their supply chain management strategies. We can consider diversifying our suppliers and investing in local production. This will make us resilient to potential shocks.
However, new measures call for investment in employees in terms of training, mentoring and up-skilling. Managers with developed skills and knowledge can adapt to changing circumstances and stay competitive. It is a pity that our business enterprises, government and administrative bodies pay scant attention to this aspect. Can you fight modern day wars with swords and spears? The foremost requirement is to recognise that modern business is a battlefield and you need the best skills to protect and grow your turf.
How much do we value innovation which is critical to business success? Our managers must foster a culture of creativity, experimentation and risk taking. This needs teamwork and collaboration. But most of us prefer to act like lone wolves hankering for personal glory. Can we mention a single innovation from Nepal which is recognised by the global business and management community? Think over it.
Teamwork and collaboration give a new purpose and meaning to our work. Collective wisdom always prevails over individual genius. Even genius needs team support to blossom. Greater the adversity, greater the need for a united front! A study of micro-finance institutions in Nepal (Journal of Management and Development Studies found that those that had strong relationships with other organisations and stake-holders were more effective at achieving their social and economic goals. Business barons need to drive down this culture among their managers and other staff.
It is incumbent upon the leader to inspire his teams and employees by reminding them of the larger purpose and meaning behind their work. They could emphasize the positive impact that the company is making in the market and the community. The leaders could express gratitude for everyone’s hard work and dedication, and remind them that their efforts are truly making a difference. They could also tell how the organisation has overcome challenges in the past. Reminding the teams that bad times don’t last forever can have a calming effect. I am confident that this approach would encourage everyone to stay focused on the mission even in the face of challenges.
Best wishes for BS 2080!