Monday, November 14, 2011

Leading in Uncertain Times

Leadership has always been a critical differentiator in our business, but never more so than over the last three years. The lingering uncertainty from the worse financial collapse since the Great Depression will continue for the foreseeable future. So the need for effective leadership remains acute.

Not every A/E firm is struggling, of course. Some have had record years since the recession hit. Others have gone out of business. Some that have flourished through the worst of the recession may find the worst lies ahead in their core markets. Others will recover nicely.

The one constant in all the uncertainty is that strong leaders make a difference. And these times have added new challenges to the already daunting role of leader. Over the past three years, I've written several posts in this space offering my best leadership advice for these unique times. Since many firms are finalizing their plans for 2012 (not to mention the fact that I'm excessively busy right now), I thought it would be worthwhile to recycle some of my favorite related posts:

Recession Exit Strategies. Some general advice on navigating the persistent impacts of the "not-so-over" recession.

Now Is the Time to Increase Market Share. I wrote this in 2009, but it's still true today. Before the financial collapse, the A/E business was better than ever. Companies were growing because their markets were growing. Now if you're going to grow (apart from making an acquisition), you probably have to take market share from your competitors. Some suggestions on how.

Helping Clients Do More With Less. Have you been keeping in touch with those clients who can't afford to hire you lately? From talking to several such clients, I know some firms aren't doing a good job maintaining those relationships. Clients may have less money, but their needs haven't decreased. You may have a chance to fortify some of these client relationships for the long term.

A Cure for the Post-Recession Blues
. I saw a fascinating statistic recently: 75% of departing employees would not recommend their former employers to friends and peers. Before the recession, the number was only 41%. Don't ignore morale in your office, especially if your firm has been weathering tough times. Here's how to help alleviate the stress.

Strangling the Golden Goose. Some firms just don't get it when it comes to improving performance. You don't want to let the strain of the economic downturn cause unnecessary strain in the office.

Keeping Morale Up in a Down Economy. Still more advice on maintaining a productive office environment when business gets difficult.

Letting People Go With Dignity. Thankfully, most of the recession-related layoffs seem to be behind us. But given the continued popularity of this post, there are obviously some still facing the unpleasant task of reducing staff. Bottom line, the responsibility to treat your employees right doesn't end with their employment.

Avoiding Cost Cutting Mistakes. Budgets are still tight in many A/E firms, and some are still facing cuts. This post encourages you to reconsider making some common but often misguided austerity decisions.

Management Communications in Tough Times. Communication from management to staff is always important, but especially so when business turns south. Here are some valuable tips to keep in mind.

Preparing for Another Possible Downturn. More suggestions for responding to potential declines in your core markets in the coming months. I posted this in September, but offer it again in case you missed it.

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