Question: How integral are non-revenue-earning support staff in the context of surviving the turbulent times and cost cutting?

Lori’s Answer
You have asked a question that leads me to wonder if you are looking to cut costs in your organization. You are not alone.

So how does one look at the productivity of the organization and determine how to (instantly, if possible) reduce the cost structure without harm to revenue retention and generation?

I’m going to start with some general tips. I believe you will Find them useful even without my being specific to an organization in the conference and training sector. If you have signed up for a call, we can get more detailed.

Keep in mind that my responses always consider a simple definition of productivity as “doing the right things right.”


Please consider gathering information and planning for action as follows:

  1. Whether in good times or bad, people working aimlessly, without alignment to strategy will be unproductive. Even when times or good there is no logic reason to make room for non-productive work.
  2. Re-visit your Strategy, making any adjustments to reflect the change in economic landscape.
  3. Since your concern lays mainly with roles that are definitely not or not obviously making revenue for you, take some time to map out the cause and effect of each Strategic objective, with at least one objective clearly identified for each supporting function. For example, someone answering phones may not be generating new revenue (also see #4), they are supporting customers, media, organizers, attendees and more. The strategic objectives that this role is aligned with might be “customer satisfaction” and “quality service.”
  4. Determine the effect that removing any support function might have on gaining new revenue.
  5. Determine the effect that removing any support Function might have on retaining revenue (and
    I recommend you also consider with this the % of retained customers that are actually driving
    new business by way of referrals)
  6. Consider what each support role could do to also increase revenue! This might be done
    with a script that helps them tell each caller about a new offer, or encourages them to tell a colleague, etc.
  7. You also might consider how they can more positively impact and support revenue generation and retention through their manner and conversations with media, participants, sponsors, speakers, etc.
  8. Do this for each support role, even those that are not exposed at all to any person outside your
    organization. Determine if their role is aligned with your adjusted Strategy. Determine the
    effect of what they do on those that are generating revenue. Finally determine if the person is doing
    the right things right. If there is a “no” somewhere as you go through this DISCOVERY, then you may
    find that this is a role that can be removed.


Remember to consider risk in your productivity or “doing the right things right” measure.

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About Lori

Lori is The Pivot Catalyst. A trusted advisor and coach, who catalyzes momentum for leaders and teams. The result is lasting business agility--even performance breakthroughs.
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