As we find ourselves at the end of 2020 with the construction and engineering industry in Australia slowly returning to “normal”, I found myself reflecting on the big learnings I’ve had leading a business this year.
From ensuring our business could adapt to bushfires, a global pandemic and a recession, to keeping our people and client relationships strong. Here are some notes I’ve taken along the way, hope it can help others who are on a similar journey.
Be prepared to adjust your strategy
Even the best laid plans might not happen. In the face of uncertainty, look for opportunities in the market to pivot or grow in unexpected areas.
Although we started the year focused on large scale commercial projects, the market for residential renovations and building projects grew as a result of the pandemic. To ensure our business survived, we needed to build our brand within that market, grow our customer base in smaller projects.
Bring your people along on the journey
If you’re feeling uncertain, you can bet that your people are feeling the same way too. To ensure you keep your talent include them on the journey as you plan for the future and give them opportunities to use their skills in new contexts.
The pandemic presented an opportunity for developing new skills within our team. Some of our locators learnt how to make client calls and were more involved in business development and planning. Although it took a while for the team to adjust, they came out feeling more empowered and we were able to keep our top talent at Electroscan.
Keep investing in your people
The other side of leading your people through a pandemic is how you invest back into them. Although it can be easy to find opportunities to cut costs on social events, training sessions and career progression opportunities, they are also essential to keep the best people within your business.
Don’t cut the budget here for a short-term saving and lose your best people post-pandemic!
One of the opportunities we took during the slight downturn was engaging our staff in some of the best GPR training available within Australia. We utilised the extra time to allow our staff to fully immerse themselves into the detailed training. This has meant better capabilities across our entire team, which has also flowed through as better results for our clients.
Make time for yourself
As important as it is to keep everything around you operating smoothly, you also have to keep track of your own energy and motivation. Leading a business out of uncertainty can be a long journey and as urgent as each opportunity can feel, you have to balance that with taking time to recover.
In the midst of the pandemic, I took a week off to with my family and it’s probably the best decision I’ve made while leading Electroscan. When you have put the right structures in place and built a strong team around you, your people will be able to make decisions and operate in your absence, and it can help strengthen the trust you have with your team.
Questions? Have any learnings from leading a business through uncertainty? Share below in the comments.
Ben Stephens is the General Manager of Electroscan Queensland, a utility location, mapping and protection business pioneering innovative technologies and surveying techniques to deliver the best possible information and results for clients.