6 things I’ve learnt from 2020
By Lance Jimmieson
So it turns out the old saying is true: what doesn’t break you can make you stronger! And after the rain comes rainbows. I’m not sure I fully appreciated either back in March during lockdown, but it’s turned out to be the case for us. 2020 has been a rough ole year and it’s bought a ton of learning opportunities and life lessons for me, including:
1. As leader, you can’t communicate enough. At one point during lockdown phones and emails were eerily silent as clients sat on their hands, unsure what was to become of their business or their projects. Work – and revenue – just pretty much disappeared overnight. I was worried (like, really worried), but more importantly, I knew my team was worried. I know sitting at home worrying about your income, your job, and how you’re going to look after your family can be all-consuming and petrifying so our senior leadership team resolved to get together every day “in the war room” to discuss our immediate action plans for the next 24 hours – a straight-talking, no excuses environment. We shared our goals and progress with the wider team. Being open and transparent really brought us closer as a team and built trust & we have come out the other side in even better shape!
2. Investing your time into good IT support is worth every minute and every cent. When we were told NZ was in lockdown and we couldn’t return back to the office, I said a silent thank you (several times) to the good folk who pushed me into sorting out our IT systems last year. It meant every one of our team was up and working from home within 24 hours. I was extremely grateful to have had that ability and to be able to keep our team connected in such uncertain times – both for work and much needed social connection & support. The gift that experience gave us is that we’re now truly a more flexible workplace and offer our staff the opportunity to work from home when it suits them. It reflects one of our core values of “Do the right thing”.
3. Even old businesses like ours can adapt and “pivot” and we shouldn’t be scared to. Excuse the overused buzzword, but I was proud of the work that our team did as a result of Covid, including 6 white papers on important topics no one else was addressing but that were relevant to our clients and the new world they suddenly faced. We covered topics such as managing and maintaining commercial AC and hydraulics in unoccupied buildings, strategies to reduce airborne infectious diseases in healthcare and in commercial buildings, and managing HVAC and pool filtration systems in unused swimming pools. This was innovative and value-adding stuff and I’m extremely proud of the work and thought-leadership my team did around this, at a time when they were also trying to get their head around being locked in at home with their family (and the dog!).
4. It’s ok to put your head above the parapet if you have something good to say. In business – and as introverted engineers – we tend to keep our head down and focus on our work and our clients, but 2020 taught me that it’s ok to put your hand up to share your thoughts and expertise on things. Like the white papers we wrote during lockdown that were so helpful that they were shared by our clients, peers, competitors and media. Like running webinars for FMs. Like speaking at regional events. Like talking to the media about quarantine rooms. There’s no point in holding all the cards close to our chest when knowledge shared is knowledge squared. We made heaps of new friends over lockdown!
4. Similarly, when someone encourages you to enter an award, do it! In all our years of business, we’ve never entered any awards. It’s just not something we do. However, this year we were encouraged (pushed, shoved) by a friend of the business to put our hat in the ring for the FMANZ Supplier of the Year award – and we won! The award entry process got us thinking about what we do and how we do it and reflecting on what we’ve achieved over the past few years, which was actually really valuable. It’s not often we take a step back to look at what we’ve achieved. And then to be recognised by an organisation we respect a lot and read all the nice comments from our clients and peers in support of us was just the icing on the cake, especially after the year everyone has had! 10/10 an unexpected 2020 highlight for me.
5. People can be interested in HVAC, it just depends on your delivery! Nothing sharpens up your presentation skills faster than a live audience and after delivering a talk on HVAC condition assessments at 5 LAPA (Local Authority Property Association) meetings around NZ, I learnt pretty quick that a bit of humour goes a long way to getting people interested in their heating, air con, hydraulics and plumbing! We’ll be putting this theory to the test with our new website in the new year where we’re aiming to deliver information, hopefully in a way that will hold your attention.
6. In a crisis, it’s important to fill your circle with people who are in your corner. I’m really grateful for our team and all they’ve put into Jacksons this year, despite the challenges (including working from home and all the distractions that come with that ie homeschooling!). As much as I try to do right by them, their efforts this year have shown me that goes both ways. In an industry where good engineers are rarer than hen’s teeth, the fact that we manage to have a full house of them – and don’t lose them very easily – tells me a lot, and I don’t take it for granted. A big thank you to all of our Jacksons employees and contractors for all you’ve done to help Jacksons and me personally this year. We have also surrounded ourselves with a world-class coaching and support team, so a big thanks goes out to Business Changing, The Icehouse, Casual Fridays & Indicator.
I’m looking forward to a super chilled out summer with my family, tinkering with old cars and making day trips to the beach, but I’m also secretly looking forward to returning to work in 2021 – as a Company, we’ve come through this crisis stronger than ever and I’m excited to see where that takes us next year!
Merry Christmas to all — we’ve truly appreciated your support!