Confidently Leading Your Team into 2021

December 10, 2020 | Sally Clark

“Everyone has a plan until you get hit in the mouth.” – Mike Tyson

Well, it’s that time again. Annual corporate planning sessions in preparation for 2021 are happening across the Construction Management industry. And while the plans are being carefully crafted and vetted, constant reminders are haunting us of how 2020 put those same well-intentioned plans straight into the shredder.

We also know that rather than our staff coming back refreshed from celebratory family and friend holiday gatherings full of good cheer and a hopeful list of resolutions, their return to the jobsite in the new year will likely be quite different. Many are experiencing loneliness, frustration, fatigue, and built up anxiety as a result of the many months of COVID warnings, regulations and restrictions.

So how do we as leaders still enact our corporate strategies knowing our plans may go completely awry (again), while also motivating our employees to step up and help us see our vision through?

  1. Identify your primary objective. Maybe that objective is “despite COVID, at all cost keep the client’s jobsites up and running”, or “move our team from surviving to thriving”, or possibly it is a higher purpose like “build a community of future-ready CMs”. What many leaders find helpful in times of turmoil or uncertainty is using the corporate values and purpose statement as a guide for establishing their mission and carrying that on through the planning stages. Focus in on your objective then communicate that to the team, loudly and often.
  1. Assess and reassess your approach. Like any boxer with a great plan, you are going to get hit. 2020 has taught us that lesson again and again, so hopefully instead of just retreating to the corner to lick your wounds and complain, you are now clued in to this indisputable fact: we must be nimble, adaptable, and quick on our toes. The objective or mission will remain the same, but how we get to that destination is likely to change along the way, so plan for multiple routes using a variety of tools to achieve the mission. Choose to have a positive attitude of acceptance for your responsibility to continually improve the path forward for your team.
  1. Care for your team. Above all, you must keep your team motivated and focused on the common purpose, and engaged in constructive, forward-moving projects that noticeably make an impact on achieving the goal. To do this, you will need to manage both their collective and individual energy. Start with managing the individual energy, getting to know your employee’s challenges and motivators, and identifying individuals who are doubters of the mission or poor performers. Dedicate time to support the detractors and coach them towards accepting the goal so that they do not negatively impact the collective team’s energy. As a team, build cohesion using collaborative and engaging activities that speak to both their personal interests and to company interests. Your job as a leader is to have a strong team that works well together towards a common goal, prepared for the twists and turns of the journey.

2021 will likely be more of the same — full of uncertainty, unpredictability, and desperately in need of a caring approach. Let us accept the lessons gifted to us by 2020 and keep humanity and emotional respect at the core of our leadership. Go into the new year confidently with a set objective, flexible and adaptable plans to achieve your goal, and a positive, mission-oriented team that works cohesively. After all, we’re still in this together.

Happy Holidays!

Sally Clark, CPSM
Vice President, AFG Group, Inc.
CMAA NCC Communications Co-Chair

About the Authors

Sally Clark, CPSM, Sally Clark, CPSM, AFG Vice President, Director of Marketing & Communications, is a marketing and business development professional with 15 years of experience in the federal, defense, and financial market sectors, providing strategic marketing, program development, and events planning services. At AFG, she oversees and coordinates corporate and regional marketing, proposals, and communications efforts as part of AFG’s broader initiative to expand its nationwide presence. She is an active member in the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME), and was most recently elected to the National Board of Direction. In this role, she will help the preeminent professional development organization develop industry-government relationships to address the security of our nation’s infrastructure. She is also a Board Member with the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) National Capital Chapter and an active member the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS).

About AFG Group, Inc.

AFG Group, Inc. is a woman-­owned firm focused on multi-­disciplined program, construction, and relocation management, with a national portfolio of work in healthcare, laboratories, courthouses, educational facilities, and government buildings. With 30 years of business acumen, AFG has earned a reputation for providing strong expertise, responsiveness, and project execution that helps owners navigate through complex design, procurement, construction, and activation processes.