A lot has changed about how we do business, but in some ways, a lot hasn’t. At least not in how we fundamentally undertake business development.

 

Developing good business has always been about having your best people interacting with your best clients; to win and deliver the industry’s best projects.

And while current circumstances require us to adapt to a new virtual environment, the fundamentals of solving our clients’ problems are still the same.

We are fortunate as Engineers in Australia that our business continues. Quite simply, critical infrastructure from hospitals to roads to water and wastewater treatment must still be planned, designed and built to serve our communities. SMEC’s projects and construction sites have remained open due to the strong actions taken by our partners and the Australian government. Right now, we are all learning to adapt our work practices to suit social distancing and government-specific requirements.

Getting to know you
The current situation provides an opportunity to strengthen and deepen relationships. As evidenced by the multitude of proud posts on LinkedIn, we have all been on Skype or Zoom calls in the last few weeks. Every one of us has probably had children or pets or both walk across the back on our working from home environments. As a father of five kids myself, I know there have been plenty of those instances in the last month! I think everyone is giving each other grace as we transition to this new way of working and interacting with each other.

I’ve learnt more about my team and my clients over the last six weeks. I believe we now know more about each other’s families. Not just those we are hibernating with, but also family in other parts of Australia and globally. Now, more than ever, we are witnessing first-hand the humanity in the people we interact with.

Necessity fosters an entrepreneurial spirit in us all
As I’ve talked with many of our project and client managers over recent weeks, I’ve been captivated by their entrepreneurial spirit. They are all adapting amazingly to this new way of doing business. They are managing their teams, delivering for our clients and positioning for upcoming opportunities – all while juggling family and life responsibilities.

I’m hearing that our client interactions are richer during this period. Our teams are telling me how collegiate the approach is – more of that grace that I was mentioning. It’s up to us all to ensure we keep this approach going when #WFH starts to wind down. Until then, I am looking forward to more online technical breakfasts, loudest t-shirt and biggest hat competitions, best Teams background photo comps, online workshops, virtual coffees, lunches and drinks. They are all creative and necessary at this time, and they all have the same purpose: relationship.

Now is the time for authentic relationship building and capability development. Now is the time to deliver on the trusted relationships we have with our clients to drive and provide the best outcomes we can.

Listening + trust = stronger relationships
Active business development, like all relationships, is about listening and trust. Now more than ever, we have the opportunity to listen genuinely. I have got more than two hours of daily commute back, and I’m trying (and often failing) to use that time to listen more to my kids, to my wife and to listen more to family here and abroad. In the same way, I’m trying to use some of this time to think about and to ask questions of our clients and partners, building trust through shared understanding and empathy. Remember that trust goes both ways – everyone is asking themselves, can I trust you to deliver for me when I need it; can I trust you to spot the risks and obstacles coming and act accordingly; can I trust you to work with me through this current crisis?

Part of that relationship of trust is using this time to plan the next steps with our clients and partners, looking at what opportunities these changing circumstances present us and how we plan to come out the other side as we refine priorities to align with community, government and shareholder expectations.

Now is the time for authentic relationship building and capability development. Now is the time to deliver on the trusted relationships we have with our clients to drive and provide the best outcomes we can.

That means delivering safely, on time, and as always; delivering excellence.

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Author Jonathan Powell

Jonathan Powell, ANZ Manager Clients and Strategy Implementation. Jonathan is responsible for business planning and analysis across SMEC’s key markets, client relationship management and leadership of strategic initiatives

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