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Infrastructure Insights Q1 2021
With 2021 underway, WGI is now well into our first quarter. Just about everyone was anxious to turn that calendar page and start the new year. However -- momentarily reflecting from a business perspective -- many of us in the infrastructure space were pleasantly surprised by 2020’s relative strength exhibited by our various markets. Almost one year ago, unbeknownst to every CEO, our roles were about to turn upside down. Most of us immediately understood the need to control expenditures, close sales opportunities, and hyper-focus attention on safety and key performance indicators. And, for most of us, that translated into successful financial performance. Why should 2021 be any different?

Work hard. Now is the time to double-down on effort and find the strong markets. Interest rates remain near record lows, people are migrating to less-dense living environments and as a result, single-family housing is a hot market. Redeploy resources from slower or non-existent areas and capture the many great opportunities and clients that focus on housing -- where at any given time, nearly one million single-family homes will enter construction each year.

On a broader note, and until we better understand how 2021 evolves, we must do more with less. Less people, less luxuries, and less surplus. Everything and everyone must add value. In most cases, this means our professionals are working more hours. As leaders, we need to carefully monitor this effort to effectively deliver our services while we remain sensitive to personal time away from work. Your team’s job satisfaction is a key performance indicator -- monitor it.

Work smart. Working harder inevitably means working more. It also means working smarter to generate maximum results – because you can work hard and not achieve meaningful results. That’s not smart. Hard and smart go together. Have a plan, seek your team’s advice, and methodically execute to completion. That’s smart. Invest in technology and automate your processes at every opportunity. That’s smart. Separate yourself from those in your business that don’t understand success requires hard work or simply cannot stay focused on your strategy. That’s smart. For those of us in the consulting business where we sell time, right-size your staff to 90% of what’s needed to deliver your backlog and opportunities. That’s smart.
Exhibit empathy and flexibility with guideposts. Success in 2021 hinges on many factors. It’s probably never been this essential to understand the team’s emotional quotient. Set clear policies and communicate them often. These policies are the organization’s guideposts and establish expectations. When it’s appropriate, flex policy and accommodate individual needs. Not everyone is the same, nor is every situation. Listen, learn, and act with empathy. It’s essential for business success.

Client satisfaction. Like always, take care of the client. It’s not new, nor is it hard. Provide an exceptional product, listen, be responsive, make yourself available, become a trusted advisor, and deliver early. Ask your clients for feedback. None of this has changed, nor will it any time soon.

Across the nation and around the world, our critical infrastructure continues to decline -- yet the dialogue with our elected officials continues to indicate that they hear the experts. It’s been decades since meaningful legislation targeted our necessary infrastructure improvements. Perhaps 2021 is the year leaders, experts, and advocates come together and deliver what’s necessary. It’s time to put a dent in the decline, create high-paid skilled jobs, and allow us all to reap the myriad of benefits from improving our environment. Look for ways to help communicate this critical message -- our jobs and success in 2021 depend on being our own advocates. Be the change you seek.

Has anything really changed? Throw fuel on the fires that burn well. Focus your energy on growing the enterprise with smart people. Target markets strategic to your talents and business plans. Let’s also not forget what we were reminded of in 2020 -- control expenditures, close sales opportunities, and hyper-focus attention on safety and key performance indicators. In 2021, nothing really changes when you step back and look at the history of successful business models. Put everything else aside; work hard, work smart, be empathetic, take care of your clients. Back to work and best of luck in 2021.
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