My usual disclaimer-the words and thoughts expressed in the Soapbox are my own-they have no reflection on what the ECA Board, Officers, or the ECA Members believe. If you hate what I write and express, then focus your hatred on me, not the ECA. This Soapbox is intended to be a provocative editorial piece that hopefully, generates thought amongst you.
So, as a leader in your firm, I ask you-“what is your company really good at?”
I ask the question right up front, as to what your firm is really good at because we are going to be competing for more and more work, with less and less skilled workers to do that work. If you are an owner or a corporate leader, you better know the answer.
Advantage-it goes to those that can offer workers a position that pays decently, gives them a chance to feel good about helping the community, allows them to get better training, enables them to be more skilled at their core duties, and when they do something solid-they are noticed and complimented on that accomplishment. The companies that can do that best in the General Engineering Contracting arena, are the ones that will continue to flourish and expand their workforce.
The last few winters we have had the misfortune of dealing with fires and their destructiveness. With that misfortune, came opportunity. Cleaning up and rebuilding homes, roads, and businesses that burned down has been a Godsend to many or our firms. It gave many owners an opportunity to gain some security and reward their employees with continuous employment, more training, and expanded opportunities to enrich themselves.
As we all know, there will be lean times ahead. But one of the reasons you belong to the ECA is because we have worked so damn hard to smooth out those lean times with funding opportunities.
We as an industry, are well insulated from much of the lean times I speak of. There is so much money flowing into Northern California from the Feds, from the State, and from PG & E settlement deals that our ability to keep working does not seem to be limited by funding.
I think the limiters will be finding, retaining, and training your own work force.
Rarely did our leadership at my old firm, Kirkwood Bly, have to pass on bidding jobs because we simply got too “full”. But it did happen. I suspect some of you are seeing it right now in your own firms.
These are the “good times”.
So, when you catch your collective breath from your regular workload, make some time for your senior leaders to confer with your young people and find out what you are doing right, and what you need to do a little better so that you do not miss out on these extended good times. Give up a little security by letting some of those talented young people take a bigger leadership role-it might sting a little because they will make some mistakes-just as we all did when we were learning! But the payoff will be enormous. People want to be a part of something, and they want to know they are appreciated and can make a difference in the daily company production. So, let them. Listen to them, and do not just give the youngsters the easy “non-leadership” positions. Challenge them, train them, appreciate them, and pay them. Allow them the time to give back to the community in some manner. They won’t forget it.
And let the good times roll!
That’s all folks!