Leadership — Inspire others

Inspire through leadership.

Inspire through leadership

Your leadership capabilities as the owner of a construction contracting business may very well hinge on one simple concept – inspiration. No matter how you became the owner of your business, there comes a time when you must inspire others. You’re not Chuck in a Truck. You’re the owner of a construction company. A construction company that employs staff, teams, workers, hands, people who look to you to guide the way.

One bare fact is employees thrive in jobs where they’re inspired.

That fact leads to the second bare fact that when you are inspiring and employees are thriving, opportunities increase while complications decrease.

Need some inspiration yourself? This list of the Top Ten Ways to Inspire Others to Be Their Best from Michael Angier of SuccessNet is a quick read and good food-for-thought.

“Rally people and they will come together. Lead people and they will come together to achieve something great.” Simon Sinek

When to be inspiring

The quick answer is always. Of course, there is more to it than that.

Here, I’ll give you an example.

Years ago, our family joined other pioneers in the homeschooling movement. At that time, those who wanted to educate their children at home (in the state of New Mexico) had to submit a request for a waiver of the law requiring a teaching certificate.

The entire process was a little scary for me, but one question on the application gave me the shivers.

It was simple enough. “During which hours of the day will you be teaching?”

The blank space was small. Much too small to write, “That will vary. I have a day job and I am part owner of a retail business in a mall that is open seven days a week. My child will accompany me . . .

You get the picture. The state wanted a nine to five answer, and I wanted to be honest.

My friend saved the day when she suggested an answer that would satisfy my need for honesty and, at the same time not allow the state to quibble.

This is what I wrote, “During all waking hours.”

Sadly, there were times when I taught some things, and I wish I hadn’t. (How to be nagging, how to lose your temper, how to . . . the list is lengthy.) At any rate, it is likely there will be times you are less than inspiring for your employees. But the goal remains to inspire “during all waking hours.” Always.

“Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” —Publilius Syrus

Inspire wherever you are

Because you own a construction contracting company, you’re a “person of interest” to many. It goes beyond the doors of your office or the job sites you visit.

The organizations to which you belong, the suppliers you depend on, the general contractors, your fellow subcontractors, your advisors, friends, family, even your neighbors have the opportunity to see you as a savvy and inspiring business owner.

Be aware of the influence you have, of the people you can touch, and the ways you can make things better for those around you. Be inspiring wherever you are. You never know who will be listing you as someone who inspired them to great achievements.

“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” – John Maxwell

Why be inspiring?

Because if you don’t, who will? Oh yeah, also because those in your employ are counting on it.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” – Dr. Seuss

How to be inspiring

Through communication.

Period.

Okay, there is more to it. But it boils down to communicating well and often.

This article from Mental Floss, suggests Eleven Ways to Become a Better Communicator. The first item on their list, “learn to listen,” is likely the hardest and certainly the most important part of being a better communicator.

“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” – General Colin Powell

“If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.” – Benjamin Franklin

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” – General George Patton

More inspiration

This article is the last in a four-part series concerning leadership in the construction world. Visit the others through these links, Leadership – Keep learning, Leadership – Practice Composure, and Leadership — Develop an eye for the big picture.

We hope that you’ve found inspiration through these four articles as you build your leadership skills.

 

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. 

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

Leadership — Develop an eye for the big picture

Leadership through developing an eye for the big picture

How neglecting some things in your business pays off

Here’s the deal; big picture thinking is a core leadership competency. Yes, as a leader, you must see the forest and let others be concerned about the trees.

Savvy construction leaders focus more on steering long-range objectives, providing inspiration, and motivating others. They are likely to:

  • Anticipate opportunities, contingencies, and potential problems
  • See idea, theory, and concept connections
  • Understand people networks and relationships
  • Discern and make use of data
  • Avoid or (at least) reduce discord
  • Recognize associates, collaborators, and competitors
  • Develop the skill of situational awareness

Therefore, all the minor things, the “details,” are left to others. Experienced leaders know how to delegate, designate, automate, or eliminate.

By giving your team the opportunity to take care of the details you gain more time for effectively leading.

A few examples of big picture thinkers

According to Rowan Bayne, author of “Psychological Types At Work,” about twenty-five percent of the population are big picture thinkers.

Wow, not a huge group. Here are a few examples you’ll recognize.

  • George Washington
  • Winston Churchill
  • Steve Jobs
  • Sandra Day O’Connor
  • Aristotle
  • Jeff Bezos
  • Warren Buffett
  • Mark Cuban
  • Elon Musk

Big pictures and details

While some have a natural tendency to see the big picture others are more likely to focus on the details.

For years I believed you had to be one or the other. You had to be someone who could see the big picture or someone who thrived on dealing with the details. Then, I discovered the concept isn’t that simple. Or that hard.

Rather, there seems to be a continuum or scale on which we all fall. At one end are the folks who find it difficult to notice details because they’re so focused on the big picture. And vice versa, at the other end, people who are so close to the details they don’t seem to notice there is a big picture.

And then, there are those who fall in between.

Big picture and detail in the Schulte and Schulte office

We were interested where the folks in our office were located on that scale. So, we took a little test.

Tonya came in at 60

This is what she learned, “You scored as more of a ‘big picture’ thinker. This means that you often zoom out and try to understand a situation from a broader perspective, but you sometimes miss out on the finer details. You likely consider yourself more of an ‘artistic’ or ‘creative’ person rather than a ‘scientific’ or ‘rational’ person. You aren’t as interested in the small nuts and bolts of how things work, but how things fit together in a larger context. The closer your score is to “100” the more of a ‘big picture’ thinker you are.”

Alicia scored 34

She was told, “You scored as more of a ‘detail oriented’ thinker. This means that you often zoom in and breakdown a situation based on its individual parts, but you sometimes miss out on the bigger picture. You likely consider yourself more of an ‘scientific’ or ‘rational’ person rather than an ‘artistic’ or ‘creative’ person. You are often interested in the small nuts and bolts of how things work but find it difficult to see things fit together in a larger context. The closer your score is to ‘0’ the more of a ‘detail oriented’ thinker you are.”

Joe showed up at 49

His results were, “You scored as equal parts ‘big picture’ thinker and ‘detail oriented’ thinker. This means that you are capable of zooming out and trying to understand a situation from a broader perspective, but you’re also good at zooming in and seeing the finer details of how things work. You likely consider yourself both an ‘artistic’ and ‘creative’ person, as well as a ‘scientific’ and ‘rational’ person, depending on the situation.”

Take the quiz

You may already have an idea where you fall on the continuum. Or you may be surprised. So, go ahead and take the quiz. It is free and you don’t have to give your email to get the results. It is twenty-five questions long and takes only minutes to complete.

Not only will you have a better idea of which traits you already possess, but you’ll also be able to note in which areas you may need to improve. And yes, it is interesting to get others in the office to take the quiz also. It may be eye-opening for you and your staff or coworkers.

In case you were wondering, I received the same response as Joe although my score was 54.

Unexpected ways to improve your big picture eye

Stay informed. Think about what is happening beyond your business or community. Think about trends in demographic, economic, social, and technological ways.

Be sociable – in person. Connect with a variety of people. Spend time talking with people from different areas of life. More important than talking to them is listening to them. Consider other’s opinions and views.

Read or listen to books. Not just construction or business-related books. Read about the “things of interest” in your mind. Science, music, history, people, or ideas you wish to explore. Whatever. Have fun. And learn some stuff along the way.

Volunteer. Of course, there is always value in the act of helping others. But you may not have thought of the value you can receive from seeing the world from a different perspective. Plus, typically when you volunteer you can interact with like-minded people who show up where you show up.

Chase rabbits. OK, there is a different term for this activity. Some call it “surfing the web.” Go with no purpose in mind. Travel to places you’ve never gone before. See something that interests you? Chase it down. Share what you learned with others. (In the past, this category would have been called, Go to the library.)

Play games. From getting involved with an amateur sports team to playing board or card games there are many ways to play games. And oh, what you can learn! Leadership skills, teamwork, staying on track, focus, determination, and sportsmanship are just a few of the lessons learned from playing games. Perhaps the most important lesson to be learned is to not take yourself too seriously – have fun along the way.

Check this out also

This article is the third in a four-part series concerning leadership in the construction world. The first was, Leadership – Keep learning. The Next was Leadership — Practice Composure.  And the fourth is Leadership — Inspire others

 

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. 

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

Leadership – Practice Composure

Leadership of your construction contracting business requires composure

Leading with Composure

Keep in mind these three important facts concerning composure:

  1. Everyone wants it
  2. Most have messed it up
  3. It can be regained

It is easy to remain composed when all is going well. Anyone can do it.

It’s when faced with uncomfortable and difficult experiences in your construction contracting business that you have the opportunity to demonstrate your composure as a leader.

In other words, Composure

One aspect of composure is it is difficult to describe. But the following list gives you a glimpse of the traits involved.

  • Is Determined
  • Has good Judgement
  • Practices Vigilance
  • Possesses Wisdom
  • Shows Kindness
  • Proceeds with Deliberation
  • Is Confident
  • Remains Responsible
  • Is Patient
  • Practices Judiciousness
  • Stands Stable
  • Continues Steadfastly
  • Shows Resolve
  • Possesses Grit

And that list doesn’t even consider these three important “selfs” – self-governance, self-control, and self-discipline.

Composure leads to success

Sherry Campbell, in her article for Entrepreneur, suggests 7 Ways Practicing Composure Leads to Success. 

Campbell says, “Think about the word ‘composure’ for a minute. What does it inspire within you? How do you see yourself operating in life and business when you envision yourself being composed? Composure is the most powerful character trait to possess when looking to advance your career.”

Composure meter

Here are three simple questions you can use to see if your composure is leveling up or needs a bit of work. Can you:

Deal with rejection without becoming crestfallen or dismayed?

Hold your temper when things don’t go just as you planned or expected?

Join in the laughter with others even when the joke is on you?

Ways to develop composure

You’ve made it to adulthood, you’ve stepped into ownership or management of a construction contracting business, and you’ve learned much along the way. And sometimes you’ve dropped your composure.

There are certain actions you can practice, thereby enhancing your composure.

  • Manage your ego – base your actions on your inner values
  • Think before you act – so you can save time in the long run
  • See the bigger picture – not the minor distractions
  • Reflect and learn – from both your successes and your failures
  • Look for solutions – not reasons to be pissed off

Listen to ancient wisdom

“The first and best victory is to conquer self.” – Plato

“Always keep your composure. You can’t score from the penalty box; and to win, you have to score.” – Horace

“The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper.” – Aristotle

There’s more

This article is the second in a four-part series concerning leadership in the construction world. The first, Leadership – Keep learning, is worth checking out.  Next up is Leadership — Develop an eye for the big picture, to be followed by Leadership — Inspire others.

 

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. 

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

Leadership – Keep learning

Leadership in construction means continual learning

Leadership means continual learning

You’re a construction contractor.

By default, that means you’re a leader.

Through reason, that means you want to be the best leader you can be.

Because of experience, you know there are things you can do to improve your leadership ability.

In the first part of this four-part series of articles concerning leadership in the construction world, the subject is improving your leadership skills through continuous learning.

Therefore, making time for the hard work that continual learning requires is perhaps the most important step in becoming a great leader.

Resolve to have a learning attitude

So, once you’ve resolved to have a learning attitude, there are actions you can take to make it happen. Among them are:

  • Determine to improve your leadership ability constantly.
  • Take charge of your learning.
  • Spend time with others who are eager to learn.
  • Remain aware of the multiple learning opportunities surrounding you.
  • Be willing to make mistakes and learn from them.
  • Remind yourself how learning will help you achieve your leadership goals.
  • Set new learning goals regularly.

Walter D. Wintle, in 1900, published a poem titled “Thinking” and it sums up the attitude question quite well.

If you think you are beaten, you are;

If you think you dare not, you don’t;

If you want to win but think you can’t;

It’s almost a cinch you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost;

For out of the world we find

Success begins with a person’s will;

It’s all in a state of mind.

Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger and faster human,

But sooner or later the people who win

Are the ones who think they can.

Set aside time for learning

Becoming a better leader means continually growing your leadership skills.

For instance, it could mean you enroll in a class and show up regularly. However, it could take setting aside time on your calendar marked “learning time.” Be prepared to learn by allowing for learning time. There are lots of ways to increase your leadership knowledge. Here are some of them:

  • Follow leadership blogs
  • Listen to podcasts
  • Take a class concerning leadership (online or in-person)
  • Read magazines or journals
  • Study leaders that you admire
  • Volunteer at your industry association, a club, your place of worship, or elsewhere
  • Teach others what you know (thereby improving your skills and insight)
  • Attend seminars, workshops, or courses

Learn as you go

Even though it is a good idea to set aside time for learning leadership skills, there is also merit in being aware of spontaneous learning opportunities.

It begins with being a good listener. Therefore, you’ll do well to read this article from The Positivity Blog that offers ten simple steps for being a better listener.

Of course, learn from your mentors and role models. But don’t leave it there. Here are a few others who may have something to teach you about leadership.

  • Your employees and subs
  • The partners in your business
  • General contractors or their representatives
  • Your spouse or companion
  • The children in your life
  • Friends
  • Your next-door neighbors
  • The guy or gal who cuts your hair

See what I mean? Listen to those who have something to teach you about leadership, no matter where you encounter them. For example, in your front yard or at the grocery store.

What’s next?

There is more to say concerning leadership in the construction industry. The upcoming articles on this topic are:

Practice composure

Develop an eye for the big picture

Inspire others

 

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. 

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

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

 

Brand Personality in Construction

Brand Personality including logos and such

Brand Personality is made up of many different (and some moving) parts.

How many times have you heard a product or service being noted as the “Rolls Royce” of their industry? Good thing the folks at Rolls have worked so hard to provide both an excellent product and an exemplary Brand Personality. Otherwise, those claims wouldn’t mean as much.

Yet, there is much more to a Brand Personality than hood ornaments or company logos.  Let’s face it, it isn’t as if you can choose a logo and decide you’ve done all you can to brand your construction company. Throw in some company labeled shirts and hardhats and you’re making inroads in the brand personality game. Yet, there is so much more to it.

Here is a short list of some brand personality building tactics:

  • Putting great wraps on your vehicles
  • Setting up your audacious website
  • Delving into the latest (and greatest) social media channels
  • Being a guest on some well-chosen podcasts
  • Volunteering within your trade association’s network
  • Donating to support children’s sports or other activities
  • Attending general contractors’ meet and greet or appreciation events
  • Participating in needs-based construction events such as Habitat for Humanity

Some more subtle brand personality building tactics:

As you can see, developing a brand personality in your commercial construction subcontracting business takes time, is ongoing, and is likely to evolve as you grow. There are no magic formulas, no silver bullets, and no easy ways out when it comes to building brand personality.

Yet, looking at the whole picture gives you more ideas to try and inspiration to keep working on.

Time out for transparency

While doing research concerning how to be better at delivering the Schulte and Schulte message, I came across this fun little article at Career Addict. It is titled, 12 Examples of Brand Personality to Inspire You.  It really is inspiring.

And, while reading, I kept thinking of various companies I know of which fit specific personalities.

Further transparency – What follows are 3 examples of Brand Personality as seen on Instagram. None of these examples are clients of ours. As a matter of fact, none of them fits the bull’s eye of our target clients. Because after all, we specialize in helping small to medium commercial construction subcontractors Run With the Big Dogs.

And, one of the firms highlighted (we believe) is primarily a service company rather than a construction contractor – 3 Mountains Plumbing. The other two – AFT Construction and Spain Commercial Inc. – are general contractors who do business with the folks we DO consider our target market (you know – those subcontractors I mentioned.)

Brand Personality on Instagram

First example

3 Mountains Plumbing found on Instagram at 3mountains.plumbing

From the Career Addict article, we see them as an Entertainer Brand:

“Entertainer brands champion values such as spontaneity, charm and humour. These brands seem to enjoy helping their customers discover the fun side of life. Examples of entertainer brands include Dr Pepper and M&M’s.”

The folks at 3 Mountain Plumbing take a difficult subject (who wants to think about all that goes on in those pipes and fixtures?) and turn it into something to laugh about. Also, their rhythm and consistency make remembering them easy. I must add, they make excellent use of color in branding.

Second example

AFT construction  found on Instagram at aft_construction

From the Career Addict article, we see them as an Emperor Brand:

“Leadership, determination, respect, dominance, influence and wealth are values that are associated with emperor brands. Good examples of emperor brands are American Express, Porsche and Rolex.”

Brad Levitt and his team hire professional photographers to take glamorous photos of their high end, custom projects. And, they leave no doubt concerning who their target market is and what they can offer the folks within that target. There is no room in their marketing calendar for rants or “tool bribery” posts. They aren’t trying to teach fellow contractors how to accomplish building tasks, nor are they passing along building “tips.” I hasten to add; Brad is quite generous with helping other contractors learn the ropes concerning being in the construction business in other online formats.

Third example

Spain Commercial Inc.  found on Instagram at spaincommercialinc 

From the Career Addict article, we see them as a Wizard Brand:

“Wizard brands specialise in taking the ordinary and transforming it into the extraordinary. Wizard brands champion values such as imagination, surprise and curiosity. Good examples of wizard brands are Apple and Pixar.”

Kayleigh is the “marketing department” for Spain Commercial. Unlike AFT where their emphasis is on the finished product, Kayleigh’s emphasis is on the people and the process. She is exemplary at getting folks to see that “ordinary” acts at each stage of the construction process ends in the “extraordinary” at completion. Plus, Kayleigh’s passion for telling the story of Spain Commercial simply rolls off the screen and into your mind. The story unfolds one image at a time making it possible to imagine how this company will service their clients well.

How does your company stack up?

Take another look at the Career Addict article and see if you can find which brand personality type your construction contracting firm fits.

Our perusal of the article made us think Schulte and Schulte fits as a Source Brand.

From the Career Addict article:

“Source brands embrace knowledge and enlightenment. They champion values such as truth, objectivity, education, discipline, clarity and commitment. They are the brands that we look to for information, advice and insights. Examples of source brands include Bloomberg, eMarketer, Forrester and Mckinsey.”

What is your brand personality?

How well are you doing at getting the message across to your present and potential clients? We hope this article has given you food for thought as well as a commitment to presenting an excellent brand personality.

 

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. 866-629-7735 

Delegating in the Construction Arena

Delegating helps you grow your construction business

Delegating in the Construction Arena

Delegating: a leadership tool

Every day you send people into the field or to their desks to accomplish a variety of tasks. You’ve delegated a certain portion of the work to each of them. How well they perform is based on their skill level and on how well you’ve delegated.

Therefore, your job isn’t to accomplish the things your employees or subs are tasked with. Furthermore your job is to see to it they have the proper understanding and the correct tools to get the job done.

Delegating requires trust

Before you can trust someone to accomplish something, he or she must climb your “trust ladder.” Some of the steps they must climb are:

  • Show up on time
  • Be competent at their work
  • Be dependable

Once these rungs are accomplished there are a few other steps which must be taken. You want your people to:

  • Tell the truth
  • Admit when they don’t know something
  • Admit when they’re wrong
  • Do the right thing even when they think no one is watching
  • Listen – truly listen

When these trust levels are met then you:

  • Trust them with your resources
  • Trust them with information
  • Develop relationships

I can’t go on without mentioning that sometimes trust is broken. When it is, this article from Frank Sonnenberg discusses how best to deal with the situation.

Delegating takes guts

Just like you can’t seat every pipe, pound every nail, or swish every brush, you already understand you can’t perform every task.

Hence, there is a very good chance you’re holding on to some tasks you think only you can perform.

So, what should you do? Stop it.

From the jobsite to the office there are probably tasks you do which would be better left to others. And, it takes guts to pass them on. Most likely, the reason you haven’t already passed them on falls into one of two categories. You don’t think someone else can do them as well as you do, or you never even thought of passing it off – because you’ve always done it.

Delegating – divide the tasks to multiply the success

Delegating isn’t something you’re new at. By the very nature of the beast, construction depends on a myriad of delegation levels. Likewise, it is part and parcel of what you do. Yet, there are likely ways you can improve your delegating powers.

As an aside, if you would like to see a stunning example of delegating to the nth degree, drop in at your local fast-food joint. Not all, but many fast-food restaurants have delegated the duties of the host, wait-staff, and bussing personnel. Not only have they nearly erased the rolls usually performed by people in those positions, they’ve delegated much of their associated tasks to . . . uh, you – their paying customer. Just sayen’.

What to delegate

There is a myriad of tasks which you can pass off to others. You’ve already stepped into that realm when you hired your first employee or contracted with your first sub. Yet, there are more tasks and efficient ways you can delegate. It is quite likely there are some duties you feel you are the only one capable of handling correctly. Many of those tasks you can trust to others. Really.

In this list there is only one item included that you will likely be better off doing yourself. Can you figure out which one it is?

  • Bidding
  • Estimating
  • Sales
  • Approving change orders
  • Paying bills and payroll
  • Cultivate a strong company culture
  • Invoicing
  • Managing individual crews
  • Software or SaaS acquisition
  • Selecting new tools or equipment
  • Approving purchase orders

If you determined the one item which doesn’t fit in the above list is “Cultivate a strong company culture,” you’re right. One of your most important tasks as the leader of your construction company is to set the course. And, if you’re too busy taking care of the other tasks, you have no time for course-setting.

Delegating gives you space for true leadership

It is your job to lead the business. There are areas where you need to direct your focus once you’ve passed on tasks, responsibilities, and duties to others. Here are some areas where you can spend time once you’ve delegated well.

  • Set up and develop the brand name
  • Create and implement vision and direction
  • Form company culture
  • Understand the budget and the financials
  • Establish financial performance metrics
  • Develop long and short-term strategic plans
  • Plan recruiting and retention strategies
  • Lead, guide, and evaluate employees and subs
  • Establish criteria for success and provide leadership for achievement of goals
  • Hold employees and subs accountable
  • Delve into innovation
  • Seek opportunities for expansion
  • Stay on top of new industry developments and standards
  • Solicit advice from mentors, associates, and experts
  • Represent your company in civic and professional associations
  • Participate in industry related events
  • Assess operational situations for crisis management, safety, and escalation protocol
  • Determine solutions to project issues
  • Develop cost effective resources

Avenues to delegation

There are basically four avenues you can use to step up your delegation game.

  1. Use in-house personnel – Whether in the office or in the field, the judicious use of delegation to the people in your employ makes your company healthier.

 

  1. Engage trade subcontractors – Handing over part of the work to trusted subs is a long-standing method of increasing the capabilities of your construction business.

 

  1. Deploy outside sources – This delegation option (once only available to the wealthy) is becoming more and more necessary, accessible, and expedient. A few available options you should consider are an attorney, accounting services, a virtual assistant, marketing, website development, janitorial services, outsourced human resources, and tax preparation.

 

  1. Adopt technical systems – There are several critical processes you can automate (think delegate) through the use of software or SaaS and apps. A few which come to mind are project management, takeoffs, estimating, and job costing.

Delegating is an investment

Remember that an expense is different from an investment. Mike Harden, of The Clarity Group says, “What’s the difference between an investment and an expense? The difference is simple: one will start paying you back, and the other is a drain on your resources.”

  • Taking time to delegate is an investment.
  • Paying fees to delegate is an investment.
  • Choosing correct technical applications is an investment.

Investing in your business through delegating well is a sound business principle. A business principle which has the power to exponentially increase the value of your company.

 

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 and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs. 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.

Employee or Right-Hand Man

Employee or right-hand man. Growing a construction contracting business.

Employee or Right-Hand Man

Employee with more to offer

Last time we looked at the problems involved with finding Loyal Employees.  This time we’re going one step further and suggesting that finding a Right-Hand Man or Right-Hand Woman is paramount to developing a construction business with hutzpah.

And right up front, I will let you know, this isn’t a position for which you can advertise. “Right-Hand Man Needed” won’t fly.

Employee Right-Hand Man samples

Bill Gates – Steve Ballmer

Warren Buffett – Charlie Munger

Beethoven – Ferdinand Ries 

While you’re likely to easily recognize the first names in this list, the second names are less well known. There’s a reason for that. The person who fits the role of Right-Handedness has different (yet all important) qualities than the person who runs the show.

Yet, jump over to fiction and it is unthinkable to refer to one without referencing the other.

  • Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson
  • The Lone Ranger and Tonto
  • Han Solo and Chewbacca
  • Woody and Buzz Lightyear
  • Smokey and the Bandit
  • Batman and Robin

What the writers of fiction seem to understand is the dynamic and balance of “the main guy” and the “sidekick” as a unit.

Employee or much more

Remember, I said you won’t be able to advertise your need for a Right-Hand person. Yet, there are ways you can begin to explore concerning finding the “just-right” person to fill the position. It’s tricky and there are no magic bullets, yet it can (obviously) be done.

Look close to home – family members, long-term friends, and employees are all candidates. Or, it could be a serendipitous meeting in coffee shop or at a party. Just remember the word “serendipitous” is limiting.

This is where “spreading your vision” comes into play. Who do you know who already believes in you and what you’re doing? Is there someone who has already taken initiative to assist you whether or not they work for you? Know someone who could answer the questions about your construction business with almost as much ease as you do? In short – who cares?

As a side note — we’ve found that trying to force this role on someone who doesn’t care (even if they’re family or friend) is a bad move. Fair warning.

Beyond Employee

The bond which takes place between the construction contracting business owner and the Right-Hand person is invaluable when coming to obstacles or hurdles in the path. Here are a few traits you can look for when trying to choose a person to fill the roll of number two. Someone who:

  • Looks for the greater good and the best outcome.
  • Proves to have the synergy you need.
  • May look as if he or she plays an insignificant roll but who is actually a change-agent.
  • Can generate possibilities and alternatives.
  • Has distinct leadership qualities.
  • Is capable of maintaining the conscience of the business.
  • Helps facilitate the values and the vision of the company.
  • Has a powerful work ethic.
  • Can aid you in maintaining focus.
  • Shows ambition for your business to succeed.
  • Is trainable and is a trainer.
  • Can be disagreed with and is capable of disagreeing with you. (No Yes-Men need apply.)
  • Holds his challenges of your thoughts or actions for private moments.
  • Is a is a cooperator and collaborator.

It would be nice if the person you’ve thought of as a possible contender had all the above qualities or traits.

It would also be nice if ice didn’t melt in my Coca-Cola.

So, yeah, you aren’t likely to find Mr. or Ms. Perfect, yet that shouldn’t stop you from looking for someone who is likely to help you become a better construction contractor.

When it comes down to it

Be on the lookout for someone who can aid you in multiple capacities as he or she takes over the position of Right-Hand Person.

What other traits do you think would be important for your Right-Hand Man or Woman to have in connection with the way you run your commercial construction business? Add them to the list.

 

The goal at Schulte and Schulte has always been to provide the best service and most up-to-date information as possible to our clients. We know we’ve hung our hats on an industry which is cyclical. Therefore, we’re determined to do everything in our power to see to it that our clients stay the course.

We hope this article (among our growing library of construction-centric informational articles) is helpful in assisting our clients to build better building businesses. Want to know more about us? Get in touch here.