It is easy to find articles these days with engaging titles such as "15 Keys to Managing a Downturn," or "The Top 10 Techniques to Engage Today's Employees." Though well intentioned, I feel the people who've written many of these articles have not lived through such economic turmoil, and they usually offer only skin-deep ideas to truly turbulent times.
My wife relentlessly entered HGTV's "Green Home Giveaway," convinced she would win. She registered under five different e-mail accounts daily, dedicated to making her dream of living in Hilton Head, S.C., come true. The drawing is way past press time, so if she's a winner, we don't know that yet. But I can tell you something her whole exercise made me realize: Who among us would have envisioned just 10 years ago that (1) a 24/7 cable TV channel dedicated to gardening and home improvement would (2) generate 40+ million online registrations for (3) a green home? That a channel such as HGTV even exists is a testimony to the willingness of TV executives to get out of their comfort zones. Rather than settle for yet more generic dramas, game shows, and situation comedies, they blew away the status quo and took control of their future.
I began my building career in the late-1970s--anybody remember 18.5% interest rates? But a lot of your staff members have not lived through it. The current housing market doom and gloom can take a toll on your employees, who feel the pressure from above to do more with less and who may fear wage cuts or job losses. But it's that workforce that is going to get your company through these tough times, so it's more important than ever that you, as a leader, keep staff motivated and committed.