Unprecedented. Unpredictable. Uncanny. There is no shortage of words to describe what the commercial construction is facing when it comes to navigating these pandemic-defined times. Adapting to the “new normal” means different things to different companies. Furloughs, layoffs, and dismissals are all part of the playbook companies use when the going gets tough.
The reality is that it is hard not to be able to plan for the long-term. It is not easy when everywhere you look, there is a reminder of the damage crises inflict on everything in their paths. Eleven years ago, in the heat of the financial crisis, former managing partner for McKinsey & Company Ian Davis said that survival, above all else, should be the No. 1 item on everyone’s to-do list.
“For some organizations, near-term survival is the only agenda item,” Davis said. “Others are peering through the fog of uncertainty, thinking about how to position themselves once the crisis has passed and things return to normal. The question is, ‘What will normal look like?’ While no one can say how long the crisis will last, what we find on the other side will not look like the normal of recent years.”
The next normal. That is what some are calling the step in this journey. And truth be told, nobody knows what that will look like. As tempting as it is for commercial construction companies to respond with bold moves—which are even harder to make when you do not know what is coming—the best course of action is to keep a firm grip on the short-term. Small wins in major battles are good for the soul. They keep you and your team honest, hungry, and willing to face down the next challenge.
Like every other industry, commercial construction continues to do its part. We are Zooming. We are conducting daily business virtually and practicing social distance measures when we can do what we love to do. These pivots help put your company into winnable situations and, as we are seeing, is a strategy worth exercising. These gradual, improvisational and quietly persistent approaches can not only help keep you on track but also give you the confidence you need to make the next move.
Passion. Commitment. Intensity. Loyalty. These are among the emotions that inspire your team, fueling a commitment to the job and the craft that makes our industry what it is. By giving yourself a chance to pocket some wins, you are keeping your long-term prospects in play. So, if you have to hold a virtual meeting with a vendor, do it. The meeting gets set. The plans get placed. The project moves ahead.
To help you find your way in these new—and soon to be next—normal times, here are four strategies you can employ, complements of the peer advisory group Vistage:
- Manage Costs — By maintaining strong financial discipline, you can be better prepared for the unpredictable. When you operate a lean business, you free up resources to invest in innovation leads to new growth.
- Customer Management — Every employee must be in the customer management business now. The best leaders ensure their teams regularly connect with customers, listen to their feedback, and exercise flexibility. Customers will appreciate companies that are agile enough to understand their changing needs and offer new ways to help.
- Talent Management — Without customers and great employees, there is no business to plan for. Be detailed and purposeful about the people you are onboarding now. You will have opportunities to hire new and diverse talent to meet new challenges and correct business vulnerabilities uncovered by the pandemic.
- Culture — When you have a compelling purpose, one that people can rally around and believe in, you can quickly get aligned and overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges. Culture can set you apart, help you retain and attract top talent, and make customers proud to work with you.
As we set our course for the months ahead when everything is still up in the air, try accumulating some little victories. Chances are, you already have.
To multiply your construction small wins and begin making big ones, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sophia Moraitis is President of CDO Group Inc., which offers a full range of outsourced corporate construction development and project management services. CDO Group provides multi-unit retail companies with a comprehensive, reliable, and cost-effective construction management alternative to adding supplementary internal staff.