Oregon Solar News

The Art of Maintaining Control in a Market Full of Uncertainty


By Tamara Staton, Thriving Solar -- The Art of Maintaining Control in a Market Full of Uncertainty, Reducing Stress through Open Dialogue

As we continue to ride the tumultuous solar coaster, many industry professionals naturally wonder what lurks around the corner in this ever-changing solar market. While we can't predict the future, there are things that we can do as business owners, executives, and managers to maintain control under circumstances that are mostly out of our control. This monthly column highlights various strategies that have the capacity to help your solar business thrive in a market where many might find themselves just struggling to survive. This column is of my own opinion and viewpoint.

There is clearly great uncertainty with the sunset of the Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) in Oregon on December 31, 2017, not to mention the recent (and controversial) trade case - it's hard to know exactly how things will look in this market in just a few months. Many of us may be asking questions like, Who will want to invest in solar and how much of it? Where will the above market cost support come from? Will the new Energy Trust of Oregon incentives be enough to motivate homeowners as the RETC has done over the past forty years?

Many in the industry have been riding the solar coaster for so long that they express little concern about the fluctuations from fading incentives. Others feel quite unsettled with the uncertainty. It can be hard to know if, how, and to what extent that uncertainty might manifest itself in our businesses. Will stress levels rise? Will we see more interpersonal conflict?

Let’s start with what we do know: the people who work for our companies are human, and that with that humanity comes the natural rise and fall of emotions and expression of our personalities - for better or worse. Some people feel stress and stuff it, for example -- you may never know how deeply concerned these people are under the surface. Others feel stress and take it out on others -- they may grow livid because the drill battery died but you're stymied as to why they're making such a big deal about it. While it may seem like it's just the drill, or the hammer or the other driver on the road, it may be their underlying fear about losing their job. Stress and uncertainty impact our ability to perform well. If we want our businesses to thrive, it is important that we consider this and be deliberate in our efforts to address stress levels among our employees.

Some proven ways to offer support during uncertain times include:

  • Schedule a meeting with both the office and the field staff. Bringing people together to learn about company strategy and plan, as well as about details regarding market and industry changes, can be a powerful way to tackle misinformation which can often lead to increased levels of stress.
  • Provide a space for Q&A. It is important and beneficial for people to have the opportunity to ask questions and express personal and professional concerns whether it be in a group meeting or one-on-one.
  • Be prepared to answer questions like, Is my job at stake? Will I be getting a pay cut? If I lose my job, I'll need to go on unemployment, and I'm not sure how that works or how that might affect my future employment opportunities. We often think that personal concerns need to stay out of the work place. However, it can be invaluable for people at all levels of the company to be provided with a space for these concerns to be expressed when they relate to professional circumstances that are creating the stress.

It is important to remember we don't need to have all the answers in these meetings. We don't even need to know what to say in response all the time. The most important thing is that we're providing a safe, non-judgmental, and educational space for discussion, which can go a long way towards decreasing stress, increasing productivity, and thus growing the bottom line of our companies that will help us continue our solar coaster ride.

Should you be interested in learning more about integrating a thriving culture into your own business or team, or how you might attract more customers, ease communication, and align company profits with the overall growth of solar, contact Tamara Staton directly at thrivingsolar.com.

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