Did you know that you can use personal strategic planning to recession proof your position? We’ve all been affected, some more than others, but the recent recession has left many of us out of work or unsure about how long our current employment status will last.  The Government says that things are turning around…but you wonder where they are getting their information…as more doors are closing and you are fighting for minimum wage positions you are over qualified for.

In the AEC environment, marketing and business development individuals take on a critical role in the success of the organization during economic downturns. Departmental inefficiencies and shortcomings rise to the surface when you and your department are stretched beyond your limits.  Unfortunately as “overhead” your department is the first to feel the sting of corporate streamlining efforts. So how can you transform yourself and your departments to better maneuver a tough economy and maintain a good work/life balance?

The key is making yourself more valuable in the eyes of your employer, which can only happen when you methodically work to augment your skill set per your own personal strategic plan. In an environment where firms are streamlining staffing needs…those that can assume multiple roles … are more positioned to survive in a down economy.  As a department head…this applies to your team members as well – you are only as strong as your team.


Baseball teams are a great example of this, they know that at any time they can lose a player, but you don’t which one.  Thus you might have one extra catcher, but then you have  “utility” infielders that can play multiple positions, same in the outfield.  This is done by design as part of the strategic plan for the season, once key players are defined, the manager then seeks to make sure his back ups are in place.  No different than knowing the members of your team will invariably be out sick, or go on vacation and you still have to get the job done.

When firms look to reduce overhead they look to keep staff members who can produce the most bang for the buck. Employees who are aware of the latest industry trends, who can fill multiple roles, who are organized and can produce quantity and quality work have a better survival rate.  Continuing education and cross-training programs that increase your skill set are good investments in your job security in a recession or even during non-recession periods.

Ok…you are thinking…how am I going to fit in continuing education and cross training when I am already stretched to the limit between my job and personal life? There are many extensive CE programs on the market that can help in your professional career. Many of which are web-based, distance learning programs. Advances in computer technology and integration of web-based teaching and learning systems have increased dramatically in the past few years making distance education viable for almost everyone.

But what about your team members? As lead…don’t you have an obligation to them? An effective training technique, which is a great motivator, is cross training.  Cross training should be planned and presented as a learning opportunity – it should be incorporated into the firm’s yearly training plan, covering all positions and departments.

Cross training brings with it many advantages to both the employee and the firm:

  • Prevents stagnation
  • Offers a learning and professional development opportunity
  • Rejuvenates all departments
  • Improves understanding of the different departments
  • Leads to better coordination and teamwork
  • Erases differences, enmity and unhealthy competition
  • Increases knowledge, know-how, skills and work performance
  • Improves overall motivation
  • Leads to the sharing of organizational goals and objectives

As department head it is your responsibility to ensure that your team members are given the best opportunity to advance their careers. Cross training is the most effective way to ensuring that your department works together cohesively as a team. Implementing an efficient cross training program requires planning and strategic implementation as well as effective follow-through and skills measurement.

DAVNA has worked with many AEC firms to effectively implement cross training programs designed to share responsibilities and promote employee life/work balance. We can help to develop an efficient cross training program for any size firm. Additionally, we have a ½ day marketing and business development program designed to introduce non-marketing employees to the AEC marketing/ business development process. Contact dolivo@davna.com for more information.

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