A Lean Mean Communicating Machine

Communicate well to keep your construction company in top shape even during COVID - 19.

Turning your construction contracting company into a Lean Mean Communicating Machine is imperative. In the best of times, communicating well quenches fires, builds trust, and improves your bottom line.

In this COVID – 19 time, communicating well allows you and your construction business to stay in the game, maintain traction, and grow in ways you may not have thought of before.

Five communication basics

Keep everyone informed.

Be honest with all involved.

Encourage communication from others.

Use as many communication channels as necessary

Make sure people know you care about them

Keep everyone informed

Communicate often. If necessary, create a short checklist of those with whom you need to communicate on a daily or weekly basis. It can include individuals or groups.

  • Employees
  • Subs
  • General contractors
  • Building owners
  • Suppliers
  • Service providers
  • Association members
  • Fellow contractors
  • Others with whom you do business

Letting others know where you are, what you’re doing to help them, how you intend to proceed can ease their minds and make the path ahead smoother.

Keep in mind the TL;DR syndrome. Too Long; Didn’t Read is real. You’ve probably experienced it. Keep your messages readable. The same goes for your spoken words. Brief and to the point wins the day.

Be honest with all involved

Tell them what you know, what you don’t know, and where you’re getting your information.

You’re going to be faced with questions for which you don’t have a ready answer. That is fine. Say you don’t know. You can also suggest other places the information may be found. Or, say you’ll try to find out and get back with them.

Encourage communication from others

Be sure everyone with whom you’re communicating understands you’re willing to listen to them and will do your best to address their concerns. Now, more than ever, listen to what they have to say. Try to see things from the perspective of those with whom you’re communicating. What are their fears? What immediate problems are they dealing with? As much as possible, have and show your empathy for them.

And, remember to look for their nuggets of wisdom. You don’t know who will give you information that will help you understand an issue in a new and improved way.

Use as many communication channels as necessary

You already know the usual channels. Phone calls, texts, emails, and your company’s intranet are among them. And there are other tools available to you. The apps Slack, and Zoom are two that readily come to mind. There are others. For example, consider creating a hidden Facebook group just for the use of your employees.

Don’t think all the communication must begin on your end. When you’re invited to attend webinars, online conferences, or other virtual events take advantage of the offer.

Make sure people know you care about them

Simply put, communicate well and often with “your people.” And remember you’re not communicating if you’re not listening. As you write or speak, anticipate the “what does this really mean to me?” questions.

Information is essential, but people also need encouragement and inspiration. Give it to them. For example, send a quick message to a group or individual telling them how well they are doing. Provide motivation and reassurance.

Keeping it light

Lastly, here is something you may want to remember.

Question: What does a dolphin say when he’s confused?

Answer: Can you please be more Pacific? 😊

 

We desire to familiarize you with business concepts, which will make it easier for you to be a better commercial construction subcontractor through our blog posts. Some are new ways of looking at things, and others are refreshers. http://www.schulteandschulte.com/blog/

The Profit Constructors Provide Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs! Call us 866-629-7735

Spark the Vision – Part 2

creating and passing on a vision for your commercial construction company.

What follows is the second in a two-part series concerning creating and passing on a vision for your commercial construction company. The first part is here. 

“If you wish to build a ship, do not divide the men into teams and send them to the forest to cut wood. Instead, teach them to long for the vast and endless sea.”

Although there is some controversy concerning the author of this statement the intent is worth noting.

Vision transfer, an important leadership tool

Among your leadership tools, you must include vision transfer. That is, you must be able to get your team to see a vision worth hard work, sacrifice, and endurance.

I know. That seems like a pretty lofty goal in this day and age. It is hard enough to get some people to put on the boots and show up five days in a row. I get it. Taking time to build and pass on a vision will take (yeah) hard work, sacrifice, and endurance on your part. And it will be worth it.

Making your vision real for your team takes:

  • Planning and effort
  • Nailing the vision in your head
  • Passing it on

Plus, it takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Passing on the vision

Last time, [link] the discussion centered on ways to build a vision for your construction contracting business. This time, the goal is to find ways to pass on your vision to your team. Also, last time, there was a sampling of power words you might find useful in developing your vision.

I saved one power word for this post. It is “Imagine.”

And it is indeed powerful. When you can say to your team, “Imagine . . .” and the members of your team can begin to take part in the imagining process, you’re well on your way to winning the game.

Getting your team on board for seeing your vision is tantamount to and foremost in importance for getting your ship out on the seas of the building world. The first two components, the ones on which all the other components stand, or fall are, walk the walk and talk the talk.

Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk

Behave the way you want your team to behave.

Tell your team how you want them to behave. And share what actions you’ve taken to live up to the vision.

Sit on it

Before your vision can stand up, you and your team must sit down. One of the best ways yet found to get buy-in from any person, team, or organization is to let them “own” it.

You may have seen it at work in your own home. Have you noticed that when a child is allowed to help with the preparation of a meal, he or she is much more likely to enjoy eating that meal?

When you bring the team together to “cook” the vision for your company, you have upped the odds for buy-in.

Who sits at the table?

The short answer is everybody.

If you have only a handful of employees, they can gather around the same table. But, if you have more than ten, you need to find several tables for gathering.

You’ve probably seen this principle in action. You meet for a holiday meal with a large family or attend a banquet with rows of tables, and typically conversations take place within clusters of small groups.

Part of your vision building strategy is to create the clusters with purpose. While circumstances can vary, usually, the optimum size of the small group should be between five and ten. Too few and the conversation can stutter. Too many and some will feel their contribution is less worthy.

Small group tactics

The strategy you’re using to get buy-in from your employees is gathering them in small groups to create conversations that will inform and shape your company’s vision.

The tactic you use when you have less than ten employees is to gather all and hash it out.

If you have more than ten employees, the tactics can vary. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Meet in small groups each week until all employees have gotten the message
  • Gather in one large group then break into smaller groups
  • Have the first meeting with your core leaders one week, telling them what you want to achieve and showing them how you want it done. The next week each of them meets with a small group. When necessary, repeat the weekly small group meetings until everyone has gotten the message.

Base your meetings on these key aspects:

  • Teamwork
  • Passion
  • Respect
  • Communication
  • Delivery
  • Fun

Finally, this article, 5 Rules For Making Your Vision Stick, has powerful information concerning how to get employees deeply involved in the vision for their company.

Bottom line

Employee engagement provides team motivation. The motivation that goes above and beyond written tasks and responsibilities.

Imagine . . . when your team sees a vision worth hard work, sacrifice, and endurance.

 

We desire to familiarize you with business concepts, which will make it easier for you to be a better commercial construction business owner through our blog posts. Some are new ways of looking at things, and others are refreshers. 

Schulte and Schulte Provides Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs! Call us 866-629-7735

Ask the Right Questions

Ask questions to grow your team, your leadership skills, and your construction business.

Want to know what your employees want, so they feel satisfied with their job? Ask them! It isn’t as daunting as you may think.

There are reasons you should be asking the right questions of your team members, both your employees and subs.

  1. It makes them know you care.
  2. You’re better able to lead.
  3. It improves your construction business.

It makes them know your care

The questions you ask go beyond “How’s it going?” to showing you do have an interest in their well-being.

The following list can give you ideas about what types of questions you should be asking.

  • What do you like most about your job?
  • Which task do you find most difficult, tedious, bothersome?
  • Where do you want to be in one year, five years?
  • Are you stuck somewhere? What challenges are you facing?
  • What is [your construction company name] doing, or could be doing, to make you more successful?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 how happy are you working here?
  • Either at work or outside work, what’s the best thing that happened to you this week?
  • If you owned [your company name,] what’s one thing you would do differently?
  • Who else on the team made a great contribution to the efforts this week? Did he or she overcome an obstacle? Fix a bad situation? Solve a lingering problem?
  • Are you clear about your role? Do you know what you should be doing?
  • Do you feel connected to the rest of the team?
  • What kind of training would you like to receive to help you accomplish your career goals?
  • What’s your most recent accomplishment at work?
  • Do you feel respected by your direct supervisor?
  • Is it fun working here?

You’re better able to lead

Assuming you know what is going on in the lives of your team is a dangerous path to take. Asking the right questions gives you the insight you need to step up your own game.

  • Who can give the older hands help with digital devices?
  • Who’s best at helping new team members learn the ropes?
  • Which process can be fixed or improved?
  • What do you like most about working here?
  • Tell me the number one reason you took a job here?
  • What did you like best about your previous employer?
  • How effective are our team-building activities?
  • Do you feel like coworkers respect each other here?
  • What would make me a better leader?
  • What motivates you to go above and beyond at work?
  • Do you believe [your company name] gives authentic recognition to the people here?
  • What drives you crazy here?

Many of these questions can be off-the-cuff as you talk with your crew and staff throughout the day. Others, you might reserve for one on one meetings.

This blog post about leadership, found on the website of Lighthouse gives a great deal of information concerning having one on one meetings with your staff.

Perhaps the most valuable piece of advice from the post is this:

“Action is what leads to change and improvement. It’s what starts the flywheel going to make these the mega-valuable meeting they are.

This is why the 2 questions to ask in every one on one meeting are:

1) What can you do to take action or make progress on what we talked about today?

2) What can I do to take action or make progress on what we talked about today?

By asking these questions, you’re working *together* to make things better. It creates a psychological contract between the two of you to both keep your promises.”

It improves your construction business

Eleanor Estes, CEO of TPI, Inc., one of the top IT and engineering recruiting firms in the country says, “As a leader in your organization, you set the culture – you establish the norms, and your example should trickle down throughout the company. Your company is a place that is made up of many different people. And if you are doing it right, the people you hire will enhance your company so that the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts.”

That leads to asking further questions which can help you find ways to build your team as well as improve your commercial construction business.

  • Do you think [your company name] supports you in your professional development?
  • Can you use one word to describe our company culture?
  • What are some ways that we can improve communication at [your company name]?
  • What’s one thing you’d like to see us continue doing here?
  • How well does your supervisor support your developmental goals?
  • Do you feel comfortable providing feedback to your supervisor?
  • Would you refer someone to work here?
  • Do you believe the management team is all on the same page?
  • What do you think is our company’s biggest strength that we should be focusing on?

Ask the right questions. And, listen to the answers. Use the information to help your team members grow, improve your leadership ability, and enhance your commercial construction business.

 

We desire to familiarize you with business concepts which will make it easier for you to be a better commercial construction business owner through our blog posts. Some will be new ways of looking at things, and others will be refreshers.

Schulte and Schulte Provides Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs! Call us 866-629-7735

 

Respect in Your Construction Company

Showing respect and dignity in your construction business is worth the effort

Respect

While researching the topic of respect and dignity at work, I came across many statements like this, “A Dignity and Respect at Work Policy encourages a working environment that is free from Bullying and Harassment.” And, this exact wording of that idea was the very first sentence in one (rather boring) article I read.

Other articles harp on how much a company loses when there is a large turnover of workers. Their premise that people will hang around longer when treated well makes sense.

But it seems the need to respond with dignity and respect in dealing with your employees loses its power when shrouded in the negativity of losing money “if you ain’t nice.”

Respectful for the right reasons

So, I’ll state (for the record) I know there is a huge financial drag on businesses which can’t retain their employees. Further, I’ll note that when others are treated with dignity and respect across the board, lawsuits (and their costs) derived from bullying and harassment don’t see the light of day.

So, if you “don’t harass” someone, does that mean you respect them and allow their dignity to show through? Not at all!

I’ll give you an example. You can force kids to “play together.” But you can’t force kids to “have fun together.”

Being respectful must come from the heart. And in your construction business, showing respect starts with your attitude. From there, it seeps into the culture you build within your construction company.

The real value of showing respect

I dug further. One article I read on the topic makes a great deal of sense. Glenn Llopis, writing for Forbes says, “Employees want leaders that are likable, understand their needs, can authentically motivate people and know how to energize a workplace culture to generate the best results for the organization.”

Seeking employee input, hearing their concerns, giving recognition when an employee does a good job, are all good ways to show respect for them. And it allows them to see you respect them as individuals.

It’s no mystery; the value of your team increases when they know you respect and value them.

The lowest common denominator is – be nice.

Respect isn’t always easy

With that being said, I must note, being nice isn’t always easy. Bad hair days and grumpy spouses aside, sometimes it takes extra effort to show respect to the noodle-head who has made sixteen mistakes already, and it isn’t even noon.

Keep in mind, showing respect doesn’t mean you don’t call it like it is. It means (when called for) you respect said noodle-head by giving a heads up or a word of caution. You’re not in the land of an elementary school where everyone is recognized as a contributor when the only contribution some kids make is trouble.

Finally, showing respect to others (the rest of your employees) may come in the form of firing the one guy who doesn’t pull his weight – respectfully, of course. 

Avoid screaming hissy fits

It is imperative to avoid screaming hissy fits or tawdry put-downs. And, more important than what you leave out of the day is what you put into it. Here are some thoughts and ideas concerning how to develop a company-wide culture of respect and dignity.

  • Tell someone what a great job he or she is doing
  • Show appreciation publicly
  • (Just as importantly) Show appreciation when no one else is around
  • Compliment an employee to their supervisor, not just to them personally
  • Be sure your employees know they can respectfully disagree (and they will be heard)
  • Offer them opportunities for career growth
  • Let an employee know you used his or her idea
  • (Or) Encourage the employee to implement his or her idea
  • Support employees during times of stress
  • Treat employees fairly and equally

And remember – smiles can set the tone for the day. Plus, they are quite contagious.

A few other things to consider

  • Focus on what went well on the project at a closeout meeting. Be sure to point out individuals as well as teams who “brought it” to the project.
  • Provide lunch and updates of progress (no down talk) at last-Friday monthly meetings.
  • Make a big deal of the annual company-wide family get-together events.

 

In conclusion

Show your dignity through being respectful of your staff. And teach them to do the same.

 

We desire to familiarize you with business concepts which will make it easier for you to be a better commercial construction business owner through our blog posts. Some will be new ways of looking at things, and others will be refreshers.

 

Schulte and Schulte Provides Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs! Call us 866-629-7735

Change Your Construction Business

Change happens in your construction business. Be in control.

“Change” is not a naughty word

While “change” is not a naughty word, it can be as difficult to deal with as the result of a two-year-old wiping the contents of his diaper on the wall and curtains. It stinks. It wasn’t in the plan. And, it can make you wonder why you got involved in the first place.

You and your grown son will have either forgotten the incident or find a reason to laugh about it all those years later. Poop happens. And, so does change.

Following are three categories of dealing with change – planning for change, adapting to change, or stagnating. Keep in mind; you can’t be actively involved in either of the first two if you’re inactively involved in the final category.

Plan change   

We see our clients and other construction contractors dealing with a regular set of business growth issues.

For example, they want to have a higher profit margin, develop a strong management team, retain good employees, be organized, and build or improve their operating systems.

And, it is obvious, “change” is the only way those issues can be addressed.

Smart contractors understand they must invest, in order to make the changes they want to see. Some ways they may invest are:

  • New tech
  • Training for themselves or employees
  • Consultants
  • Quality new hires
  • Service providers

Savvy contractors understand the investments they make may involve cash, time, or both. Further, they understand the value of their investments.

Adapt to change

Another skill great construction contractors have is adjusting or adapting to changes they may have missed in the planning stages or somewhere along the way. For example; the weather, new competitors, the economy, and new or different expectations from clients.

While this article is titled, Startup Pivots That Changed the World, don’t let the word “Startup” get in your way. The list includes companies which started in 1889 (Nintendo) and 1939 (HP®) as well as others. It is a fun look at how others have dealt with the changes necessary to get them to their present status. Some have changed so much we are astonished at their roots.

Each of them can give you a jumping-off point for thinking about changes you may want to make or changes which might come knocking on your door when you least expect it.

Stagnate

Definition:

stag·nate /ˈstaɡˌnāt/ cease developing; become inactive or dull.

Synonyms:

become stagnant, do nothing, stand still, be sluggish, lie dormant, be inert, languish, decline, deteriorate, fall

The world will continue to change with or without us.

Um, I wish there was something more I could say about this category. I can’t. You understand.

Final word

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often” – Winston Churchill

 

It is our desire this article (among our growing library of construction-centric informational articles) is helpful in assisting commercial construction contractors build better building businesses. 

Providing Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs. Call us! 866-629-7735

5 Construction Takeaways from Archery

Construction Business lessons from Archery

5 Takeaways from Archery for your construction business

My first venture into the world of archery took place while I was still in high school. As I recall, our PE teachers chose a variety of sports and activities to keep those of us who were in our senior year interested. I chose the archery segment thinking it would be a lark, never once thinking it would be something I would be interested in after the 6-week venture. Yet it was.

What follows is a light-hearted look at what joining an archery club can do to inform your management skills in your commercial construction contracting business.

Construction Business Lesson One

As a sport, archery requires skills of:

  • precision
  • control
  • focus
  • repetition
  • determination

As a business, construction contracting requires . . . well, you know, the same set of skills.

On one level, when you send a crew to a jobsite, they must understand the basics of measuring precisely, controlling their actions, focusing on the task at hand, repeating their set of skills over and over, and having the determination to get the job done.

On another level, you as the business owner also have to bring it. The precision you bring to your managerial and leadership role sets the pace. Controlling the long-term plans as well as the day to day activities of your team is important. You must maintain your focus concerning where you are and where you plan to be in the long run. Building good business habits and practices require repetition on your part. And, you bring determination to the table with each new project and each new day.

Construction Business Lesson Two

When a person joins an archery club the oft stated club goal is “to help participants reach their individual goals while fostering a supportive team environment with a focus on safety, personal growth, and positive attitude.”

In order to present a winning team within your commercial construction business you do well to follow the same principles. It is as if you can make a checklist of the items in the archery club goals.

  • Encourage employees to reach their individual goals
  • Foster a supportive team environment
  • Focus on safety
  • Aid your team in their personal growth
  • Maintain a positive attitude

Construction Business Lesson Three

My next step to the shooting line came while in college. Archery was offered. I was interested. I took the class. It was there I learned of a few ways to protect my ever-wayward left arm from maintaining a permanent inner elbow bruise. The first step had to do perfecting my stance thus keeping my elbow out of the way of the released string. The second (back-up) step was to purchase an armguard which was not only larger but also sturdier than the flimsy guards we’d been offered in high school.

Maintain the proper equipment.

A bow and some arrows – what more could any archer need? Right? If you are an archer or have at least dabbled you know there is much more to it. The right type of bow, (recurve or compound) the correct set of arrows, (determined by draw weight and length) and the sight are just the beginning. Then, it is time to consider the armguard, quiver, and some type of release aid like a finger tab or a mechanical release. Plus, all this stuff has to be stored properly and repaired as needed.

Storing, repairing, and replacing the equipment your team needs requires diligence. Creating systems for everything from vehicle loading to maintenance schedules makes it easier to protect your valuable equipment.

Construction Business Lesson Four

After leaving college I still had a hankering to pick up the bow and arrow, see the target and release. Joining an archery club seemed like just the place to be. Besides the opportunity to hone and improve my skills, there was the competition, as well as the camaraderie.

Archery is not gender, age, or size limited. People who may not consider themselves “athletes” have the opportunity to participate.  Some even have a chance to go to the Olympics.

Building a great team in the construction field takes time. Yet, when done well . . . the rewards (gold medals not withstanding) are worth it. Consider:

  • Encourage those who may not have thought of construction as a career choice.
  • Make friendly competition part of the “game.” For example, gamify getting legible timesheets or POs turned in on time.
  • Reward safe delivery of the on time, under budget projects. Something as simple as an after-project dinner may be all that is needed.
  • Encourage and praise individuals as well as the team – often.
  • Offer classes and training, emphasizing the potential for personal as well as professional growth.

Construction Business Lesson Five

In each of my “archery phases” I had teachers as well as mentors who applauded my successes and gave me instructions concerning the areas where I could improve.

Here is a list of my personal take-aways which also work in the commercial contracting field.

  • Set the parameters of what is allowed and what is not
  • Teach safety at every juncture
  • Build ways to improve technical skills
  • Express and reinforce proper strategies (in the field and in the office)
  • Look for patterns which can be improved
  • Be consistent
  • By example teach your employees to flex their patience muscle

There you have it. Next time you see a target, think of all the examples archery gives to inform your management skills in the construction contracting field.

 

It is our desire this article (among our growing library of construction-centric informational articles) is helpful in assisting commercial construction contractors build better building businesses. 

Because we are a virtual “corporate accounting office” for commercial construction businesses we can assist you no matter in which of the 50 United States your business is located. Call to see how we can be a part of your advisory board as well as lighten your accounting burden. Get in touch here.

Service and Your Construction Business

Service is the way you set your construction business apart.

Service is paramount

Service is what distinguishes your construction company from the others. You know it is true. Those working for you should know it’s true – but some won’t.

And, the sad part is, some of those who offer up poor service while representing your construction business will be the loudest protestors when they receive poor service elsewhere. Some people just ain’t got no manners! 😲

Just as Supreme Court justice, Potter Stewart could, while explaining pornography, say, “I know it when I see it,” we all know excellent service when we see it.

When you develop a company culture which goes beyond “be nice” you develop a company both potential clients and potential employees will seek out.

Let me put that another way. When your construction business is built on integrity, dignity, and courtesy clients will want to work with you and tradesmen will want to work for you.

Service is more than a word

It is an attitude. Passing on an attitude of excellent service to your employees and subs is your only defense from poor-service-syndrome. Be clear. Make sure everyone who represents your construction business (and uh, that means everyone in your employ or under your supervision) understands this is a bottom line issue.

Think about it, the thing your clients are most likely to remember is the direct interaction they have with you and those who represent your company.

Bad service example

Sometimes you can see it headed your way. Sometimes you’re blindsided.

Recently, my son-in-law made an appointment to have his truck serviced by the dealership where he purchased it. He showed up at the appointed time only to find he wasn’t on the schedule. Although that was an irritating moment it could have been soothed over in a number of ways.

But. It. Wasn’t!

Rather than saying, “Oh no, we’re sorry, we made a mistake,” the answer was “You didn’t make an appointment.” When my son-in-law used his phone record to prove he had indeed made an appointment the follow up answer was delivered dead-pan (with no emotion) and went like this, “You’re not on the schedule, we can’t fit you in, you’ll have to make an appointment.” While that last statement was (in all likelihood) true, it was also an example of customer service gone awry.

Good service example

This one is easy. It is what we typically receive on any given day and at any given business. You’re greeted when you approach the clerk. Someone asks if you want your items packaged a certain way. The wait-staff offers a refill on your drink before it is empty. You’re asked where you can be directed to find what you want. You transact your business and you move on.

You’re neither angry, nor inspired to write a glowing review of the great service you just received. It is normal. Almost every person or business rises to the level of good service.

Exceptional service example

Disney.

You’ve heard it before and from your own experience have likely encountered the exceptional service provided by Disney employees. I mean, just think, they even have the Disney Institute where business owners and organizations go to learn about providing exceptional service. How cool is that?

Oh, by the way, here is something that should be near and dear to the heart of every construction contractor – safety is the first priority when employees are being trained in “the Disney way.” I didn’t know that, did you?

Good and exceptional service compared

Good – A few weeks ago, I was with the family at a bar-b-que restaurant where I noticed my grandchildren had chosen side dishes of macaroni and cheese. It looked good to me and I commented on it. A few minutes later one of the wait staff put a small, plastic container in front of me with enough mac and cheese in it for me to decide that, yes, I would order a dish for myself.

Exceptional – Not too long ago, several family members gathered at Disney World for a reunion. One of the family members noticed that another of the group had a bowl of soup which looked good to her. She mentioned to the person eating it she would like to try it sometime. Within minutes a bowl of the soup was placed in front of her by a member of the wait staff courtesy of Disney.

Both were small gifts, one was simply better than the other.

Develop or update your service policy

Pay attention when you’re with your clients. Solicit their feedback before, during, and after each project. Ask questions. Try to understand their needs and goals and then do your best to make them your own.

Be prepared to always step to the plate. Never wait, hide, or sugar coat a problem. No matter how bad it is, deal with all issues with honesty and integrity. After addressing a problem, be ready with a solution. Let your client know how your team will deal with the problem. Your reputation depends on it.

Empower your employees with a flexible  approach. Devise guidelines for your team members that allow plenty of freedom to handle customers on a case-by-case basis. Include information concerning priority solutions and “go-to” fixes for common problems. Define the service principles and standards which guide all interactions within your construction business.

Service givens

Providing excellent service is a matter of having good excellent manners.

You and everyone working for you are a part of your Service Department.

Customer service supersedes skill levels and product delivery.

Poor service on any level reflects on every level.

Your employees will only work to the level of your personal standard.

You can take your place on our waiting list by getting in touch here. Simply state you want to be added to the list.

Achievement-Based Bonus Programs That Don’t Stink – Part 3

Achievement based programs help you make things happen.

Achievement based programs help you make things happen.

Build the bonus program

Building an achievement-based bonus program will take some effort on your part, yet it need not be overly complicated. As a matter of fact, simplicity can be key to success. While there is room to base an incentive program on a quarterly or annual basis, it is likely shorter-term situations will be easier to design, build, and carry out.

Even if you do intend to incorporate long-term bonus programs it is a good idea to start small. Here are 3 reasons why:

  1. It is easier to design and carry out
  2. Your employees want their rewards sooner rather than later
  3. Successful bonus programs build interest amongst your employees making them eager for the next challenge

The size of your construction company, the typical length of your projects, and the number of employees you have will all factor into the length and frequency of each bonus program.

Just like building your construction business takes time, building your achievement-based bonus program will take time to establish and function properly. Eventually, your company may become known as the great place to work because of (such-and-such) annual bonus program. In the meantime, start developing bonus bits which will fit into the overall concept which is part of your company culture.

The 6 Ds  

Remember this from the last post?

At the highest level of implementation are two considerations:

  1. Motivating your employees to excel beyond their base job descriptions and regular duties.
  2. Exceeding your client’s expectations in both small and big ways.

Thinking of the above two considerations, use the 6 Ds to design your program.

  • Determine the objectives

 

  • Decide who will be eligible to participate (consider team or individual based)

 

  • Develop the achievement criteria

 

  • Devise the reward levels

 

  • Derive the funding formula (Where’s the money coming from to pay for this?)

 

  • Decree the method of payment

 

We’re going to break it down step by step.

Determine the objectives

What do you want your team to accomplish? Raise productivity or efficiency? Drive teamwork? Improve customer service? Increase safety habits?

Consider: It is easy to see that a team which works together will without fail be more productive than one that doesn’t. If your team is filled with a majority of workers speaking a foreign language, steps to improve their English skills will inevitably improve customer service. Improving safety awareness and habits is bottom line good for all involved.

Decide who will be eligible to participate

Will this be a company wide initiative, or will only persons performing particular job types be in the running? Will all your field crews be involved or one specific team? Will the office staff be the only ones eligible?

Consider: Devising a scheme which is available to every employee can be tough. Yet, in order for all in your employees to get in on the fun you may decide to have one plan running for field hands and a different one for office staff, or some derivative thereof.

Develop the achievement criteria

What must be accomplished in order to receive the bonus? What are the parameters involved? Will there be levels of reward based on levels of accomplishment?

Consider: Developing the criteria concerning reaching the goals may be the easy part, yet if parameters are left to chance there is room for great error. For instance, if speed is the only criteria, both craftsmanship and safety may be neglected.

Devise the reward levels

Setting attainable benchmarks along the way to the final goal eases the tension which might arise from seeing a big hairy objective. Even if the final goal isn’t met, at least some amount of achievement will have taken place and be worthy of reward.

Consider: Use hard deadlines, percentages, frequencies, or volume as units of measurement when determining the levels which can be achieved.

Derive the funding formula

Just how are you going to pay for all this stuff? Sure, the entire, overall, sweeping objective of having achievement goals in the first place is to improve your operation thereby improving the profitability of your construction company. But you have to start somewhere, right?

Consider: 1) Dig into your own pocket if you must. 2) Give low or no cost rewards with integrity, letting your crew know their part in the effort will pay off as you grow. 3) Contact Schulte and Schulte. We’ll show you how to begin now preparing for fantastic future achievement bonuses your crew will rave about.

Decree the method of payment

Tell your crew exactly what they can expect for each benchmark they reach. Then when they reach it – give it to them.

Consider: Have a party – onsite or elsewhere. Make a razzle-dazzle of the presentations, keep it humorous and fun while at the same time making sure your people know you really do care about them and you appreciate their effort.

A simple example

Before I get into the example I’ll give you a bit of background concerning where this story came from. I’ve recently become a bit of a construction-centric podcast junkie. (A topic which I’ll likely share with you in the future.) The following story came from one of the podcasts I heard early in my podcast adventure.

On the podcast I was listening to, a fellow who is a construction business owner was being interviewed. This guy believes wholeheartedly in incentive bonuses and he shared the story of the first time he tried it. He said that he looked at the jobsite, looked at the scheduled completion date, looked at his crew and came up with his plan.

He told his crew that if they could complete the job three weeks ahead of schedule he would take them all to a local steak house where they would all be treated to a first-class meal. If they could complete the job two weeks ahead of schedule he would have a big pizza party for the entire crew. If they completed the job one week ahead of schedule he would take them all to the fast-food joint and buy them each a hamburger, fries, and a soft-drink. As it turned out, the pizza party is what took place. He said it cost him a couple hundred bucks and came out of his own pocket.

How it worked

So, here is how his story breaks down in accordance with the 6 Ds.

He determined the objective of finishing early (I don’t know if he had the added parameters of safety and workmanship in his objective, but it would have behooved him to do so.)

He decided the entire crew would be eligible and it would be a team effort.

He developed the achievement criteria based on the measurement of time. One week, two weeks, or three weeks.

He devised the reward levels by establishing just what the crew could expect determined by when they reached the goal of early completion.

He derived the funding formula by looking at his checkbook and deciding it was worth it to him to see if his experiment would work.

He decreed the method of payment by letting his crew know exactly what they could expect based on what they achieved.

Further information

The Project Management Institute produced a rather lengthy study and article concerning Incentive Programs in Construction Projects.

Here are a few of my take-aways from their article.

  1. They strongly recommend the participation of employees in planning and implementing an incentive-based program. They say, “As for the ‘participation’ parameter, previous studies demonstrated that employee involvement contributes to the amount of information employees have about what is occurring, and to the feeling of control over and commitment to what is decided.”
  2. Their determination is that presenting a single objective is preferred over multiple objectives.
  3. Further, they advise a monetary program measuring group performance is somewhat preferred over a non-monetary one measuring individual performance.
  4. They say high quality of management contributes to a high likelihood of program success.
  5. My final takeaway — they say, “Under some conditions, participation may lead to higher-quality decisions.”

This has been the third in a 3-part series. You can catch the first here and the second here.

Now that you see the potential in developing an achievement-based bonus program it is time to get in touch. We can help you analyze and develop the financial end of the process. Click here or call 866-629-7735.

5 Strategies to Retain Your Best Employees – Part 3

Treat your construction employees well when you desire to retain them.

Treat your construction employees well when you desire to retain them.

This is the third in a 5-part series about specific strategies you can use in order to retain your best construction employees. You can find the first installment here and the second here.

Treat them well

Some years ago, I heard an axiom which went like this, “Treat your guests like family and your family like guests.”

There are guests. We welcome them to a clean house, offer them refreshments, encourage them to tell us more about themselves, give them a good seat at the table, and never expect them to join in the clean-up of the after-meal mess.

Then, there is family. Family knows where the drinking glasses are and gets their own drink. Family knows the “inside jokes” and laughs in unison even before the sentence is complete. Family rallies for celebrations as well as for times of mourning.

With guests, the strong point is, we’re polite. With family, the strong point is we’re comfortable. It is my contention that employees should receive the best of both worlds. It boils down to being respectful, courteous, and thoughtful.

For quite some time now, our family has used the “red plate method” of singling out a particular family member who has accomplished a difficult task, overcome an odious obstacle, learned a new skill, gotten a promotion, participated in an act of kindness, had a birthday, or in one way or another deserves to have their achievement (or longevity) called out.

Reminders of “job well done” are a great way to let your construction employees know they are appreciated. It has the added benefit of letting them know which behaviors (such as – accomplished a difficult task, overcome an odious obstacle, learned a new skill) you want to see from them. Plus, just like birthdays, longevity with the company is a thing to be celebrated. Here are 101 ways to reward your employees.

Guests as Family

Being respectful of your employee’s opinions, courteous concerning their needs, and thoughtful about the best ways to allow them to progress in both their personal and professional lives is an impressive formula for maintaining team members who want to stick around. After all, they’re part of the family.

Your turn

Plan ways to make sure your construction employees know they’re appreciated. From pats on the back, to hand written notes, to meals “on the boss,” to bonuses, there are many ways to show your appreciation. Treating them well is key to maintaining a long-lasting and fruitful relationship.

5 Strategies to Retain Your Best Employees – Part 2

Training your employees helps retain your team.

 

This is the second in a 5-part series about specific strategies you can use in order to retain your best construction employees. You can find the first installment, concerning passing on your vision here.

Train your team

Construction company owners who receive passion as well as performance from their employees are the ones who hire teachable people, train them well, and then give them the autonomy to make decisions.

In order to engage your people there must be ongoing training and education. The different areas which you should address include:

 

 

  • Teaching practical skills which keep up with the newest tools and best practices in your particular piece of the construction pie.
  • Instruction concerning up-to-date supplies for your industry.
  • Guidance concerning the use of computers as well as the systems and apps your company uses.
  • Training for building leadership and supervisory skills.
  • Coaching about the newest safety guidelines and paraphernalia.

Additionally, you may wish to consider developing a program concerning team building.

For your sake

Brad Humphrey, writing at For Construction Pros has a well thought out message concerning why you must take or make time to train your people. He gives plenty of examples concerning sources for obtaining training materials or classes, as well as suggestions about the various people who can provide the hands-on training.

Typically, people will comply with rules, policies, and requests when they understand the reasons as well as the expected outcomes.

For their sake

Showing your employees that you care about their personal as well as professional growth, giving them a roadmap to advancement and success will cultivate an atmosphere of trust and confidence. Training provides career pathways. You are giving them tools to improve themselves. Training that helps employees grow their skills and knowledge to better perform their current job is appreciated as a benefit. It is seen as a gesture that the company cares about their employees. Employee training creates a full-blown, all-out environment of support from your company. It empowers your employees to deliver more and be more confident. Employees who are valued feel more satisfaction concerning their jobs.

Coming full circle

Better trained employees leads to increased rates of success on projects.

Success breeds general satisfaction at work.

Satisfaction leads to more commitment.

A committed employee will be willing to do his or her work when adversity strikes, when there is a last-minute push, when searching for a better way to accomplish a task, when someone needs to step to the plate, when there is an opportunity for more responsibility.

Your turn

Develop a plan which includes the various areas in which your employees need further training, a way to accomplish each type of needed training, and a way to follow-up to be sure the training has been effective.