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

Teaching Yourself in the Construction World

Teaching yourself to be a better construction business owner.

Teaching yourself

Teaching yourself how to be a better construction business owner is part of your job description. Besides, if you don’t do it, who will?

You know if you stand in a garage it doesn’t make you into a car. Did you also know if you sit in a classroom it doesn’t make you into a learner?

While there’s a snowball’s chance in hell you’ll ever become a car, there is a very good chance you are already a learner – classroom or not. You wouldn’t have gotten this far if you weren’t.

Why bother teaching yourself?

In the most practical sense, learning offers options. You’re capable of generating better ideas. And, your ability to solve problems escalates.

There is more to it. Learning enriches your life’s experiences. It allows you to better understand yourself, those around you, and the world at large.

Your mind grows with each new piece of information.

Warren Buffett said reading 500 pages a day was the key to success. His reason? “That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest.”

Whether through reading or other means, cultivating a passion for learning has the power to move you from Average Joe Contractor to a highly regarded construction contractor.

There is one caveat to the learning process. It has to do with the Dunning-Kruger Effect.   And, if you don’t know about the Dunning-Kruger Effect, it is high time you learn. Check it out. You’ll be glad you did.

Assuming you’re not in the first phase of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, the more you know, the more you realize just how ignorant you are (in any given subject area) and the more you want to correct that.

What to learn

It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to improve yourself, your business acumen, or your ability to have fun, there are three basic areas to be improved through learning. They are:

  • Skills
  • Knowledge
  • Awareness or Attitude

Skills and Knowledge, you get. It’s where the most focus takes place in classroom settings and less formal learning spaces. They’re easy to measure. Can you do it? Are you able to understand it?

But your awareness? Your attitude? Who measures those? And how?

Here are three examples of things you might want to learn more about and improve in your awareness and attitude sphere.

  1. Show more appreciation for the contributions of others
  2. Place a higher value on client relations
  3. Be better motivated to work harder

How to learn it

There are three methods of learning. It is probable one suits you best, yet you’re capable of learning by using all three methods.

Formal

It could mean a college degree or could be more along the lines of taking classes which have information you want and need. You can find them everywhere. Colleges, vendors, construction associations, general contractors, and skill-specific teachers all come to mind.

Usually, formal training or classes are designed to get you to the next level.

Again, be careful. Studying only to get a grade can undermine the process of real learning. Don’t let grades get in the way of getting the most knowledge and enjoyment out of your courses.

Instead, look at formal learning occasions as ways to increase your ability to think and analyze, thereby giving you better ways to integrate new ideas and information.

Informal

In the informal learning arena, no classrooms are involved. Your goals are specific. You want to learn something well enough to understand or participate. Often (though not always) you learn at your own pace and in your own time.

Here are some of the ways you can informally learn:

  • Watching others perform
  • Asking questions
  • By taking something apart
  • Reading
  • Viewing videos

Casual  

Casual learning is the least structured of the three methods yet offers just as much as the other two if you take advantage of it. Here is where the power of curiosity shines.

From the simple “google it” question to the trip you take with the family to the history museum, there are things to learn. Casual learning isn’t geared to the success ladder nor the party trick format. But, you can find ideas, thoughts, and actions to pertain to either.

This article from DailyInfographic has some interesting information about learning something new every day as well as reasons for doing so.

Lastly, I’ll remind you to focus on the kinds of study that enhance the quality, not the quantity of your learning experiences.

 

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

Building Construction Jobs

Construction building takes finding great employees who want to stick around.

Building Construction Jobs

Building construction trades need workers

Over and over, we hear from our clients and other construction contractors one of the biggest problems they face is getting field workers. The reasons for the reduced workforce have been gone over so many times, my guess is I’m not the only one who is sick of hearing them. Yet, if you’re just aching to know, this article lists a few.  I’m sort of over the “why” of the equation and would rather see a “how” come into play.

Of course, if I could give you a definitive “how” to get people back in the construction world, it would be game over. I could pick up my paycheck and move on to other endeavors. If I could sweep thousands of skilled and trained people on to construction sites, we would all be winners in a very short time frame. I can’t.

I’ve written a few articles about how to look for and how to try to keep good hands on board. They range from How to Hire a Knight in Shining Armor to a 3-part series concerning creating achievement-based bonus programs that don’t stink. You can find them here, here and here. And, they’re worth trying.  

But, could there be more?

Do you want to see people enter the trades again?

Building construction in my dad’s day

Watching my dad lovingly rub his hand across the piece of wood he had just sawed, sanded, or nailed in place was a part of my everyday world from childhood to adulthood. Dad saw the materials of his trade as more than simple objects. He loved to touch the wood, hold the tool, “see” that which would be. He leaned into his craft with soul.

Yeah, the finished project was good. The joy in saying, “I built that,” is not measurable. Yet it was all the bits and pieces which came before which gave him daily pleasure.

It was the:

  • coffee-marked blueprints
  • smoke-filled air in the morning meetings (yep, cigarettes were part and parcel)
  • silly or suitable nicknames of coworkers
  • crazy jokes and stunts they played on one another
  • help they gave one another in times of need

It was also:

  • sighting down a 2X4 checking for flaws
  • knowing what to do about the crazy knotholes
  • “seeing” what was to come and knowing what would and would not work
  • understanding how to hold tools properly
  • getting the best outcome from the tools in his hands

Later it became:

  • getting the most out of the crews in his charge
  • knowing who he could count on to get the job done
  • mediating disputes among workers or trades
  • planning and scheduling
  • hiring, laying off, and firing

Still later it became his dream of:

  • puttering in his workshop
  • refinishing and refurbishing furniture and other items
  • building the long-delayed wall of shelves Mom wanted
  • helping my hubby and me restore and remodel our first home
  • serving as a volunteer on non-profit building projects

Yes, even after retirement it was the love of craft which kept his heart singing.

Building construction needs a new workforce

Helping people see, hear, and feel the day-to-day that makes up the ethos of being in the construction trades is (or should be) a part of your regular planning and action.

Set aside at least one hour a week to plan and strategize how you will reach the unreached groups of people who will fit in your industry. Once you’ve gotten a plan together start acting on it. Put it on your calendar.

Here are a few tactics:

Make sure all the high schools and colleges in your area know you (or someone in your employee) will be available to present on career day.

Talk to the directors or counselors at community colleges or trade schools concerning how you can work together to help the students.

Work with your trade association’s efforts to train and educate your present and future employees.

Let your friends, neighbors, and colleagues know you’re hiring and training. (Tell the person waiting on your dinner table, the clerk at the grocery store, your hair dresser, and the person who is balancing the tires on your truck. Tell everyone.)

Speak with the folks at the National Guard concerning how you can work with them. 

Sign up with recruiting firms.

Visit halfway or transitional houses in your area and speak with the director about people who are ready to move on. Remember there are facilities like this for women too.

Get involved with any construction training centers in your area. If your trade isn’t represented, consider working with them to develop training.

Look for organizations like the ACCD (Association for Construction Career Development) found here in Arizona and get involved. 

Use all your social media channels to get the word out about your openings.

Put banners on your office and shop.

Building construction is head, heart, and hands

If ever a segment of the work-a-day world depended on the trifecta of head, heart, and hands, it is the construction industry.

From the build-dream to the build-completion all three units remain involved.

Before Dad became a carpenter, he drove truck for a lumberyard. It was his job to take “stuff” to the jobsites. So, he touched the materials. Then, he heard the job sounds. And, he smelled the wood. He saw the camaraderie among the workers. Yep, he was hooked.  

Helping people find their way into the trades is going to take time and it is going to take a paradigm shift in the thinking of many educators and parents.

Plus, it will take making a few changes in the thought processes of those already in the trades. For example, what if you thought of yourself (your construction company) as a talent development unit? Young people today understand the concepts behind mentoring even if they don’t use the word. They want someone who “gets it” to stand by their side.

It may take being willing to take a chance with someone who needs a second chance. It could be that the you have to learn new things in the areas of leadership, business acumen, or even the basics of entrepreneurship

Building construction is honorable and respectable

Sure, you need people who have skills. You also need people who have the ability to learn. And, you need people who understand they aren’t simply pulling wire, or laying shingles, or joining pipe. You need people who know they’re doing their part to give someone a place to work, a place to worship, a place to heal, a place to sell their wares, a place to lounge before boarding, a place to eat and celebrate, a place to relax while traveling, or simply a place to look at and admire on those travels. Look for people who can see how important their part is in building America.

By the way, we do a little happy dance when we can help our clients find someone for their commercial construction business. We’ve done that. And, we do another happy dance when we add names to the payrolls of companies we know have been looking for workers.

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 small to medium commercial construction businesses, and because it is our goal to help those businesses Run With the Big Dogs we can assist you no matter in which of the 50 United States your business is located.

Call to see how we can be of assistance to you. Toll Free: 866-629-7735

Building Good Habits for Your Construction Business

Build good habits and watch your business grow.

Building Good Habits for Your Construction Business

Good Habits

Take time to build.

Require sustained effort.

Should start small.

Give you a leg up.

Have exponential value.  

By the way, if you’ve ever wondered about the difference between habits and skills, this article is a quick read to give you a better understanding. 

Good Habits address future needs

Training dogs is all about instilling good habits in them, right? Well what happens when you instill bad habits in them? If you haven’t done it, you’ve seen it done. For instance, some folks bring home a darling little puppy which will grow into a full-blown, adult Great Dane. Yes, they’re oh so cute puppies. And yes, they get oh so BIG! And, when trained from a young age to be lap-dogs they can be oh so Annoying!

My late father-in-law (we called him Pop) found his way into family lore in many ways. And, one story which comes up again and again is when he trained the newly purchased colt to put her front hooves on Pop’s shoulders. She grew up. Pop got knocked down. New training began.

When determining which habits to pursue it is a good idea to think in terms of what will be needed in the future. Establishing good habits which will serve your construction contracting business well as it grows is essential. That means you save yourself time and money by putting best practices (good habits) into place sooner rather than later.  

Good Habits form your day

In truth, habits (be they good or bad) form your day.

From brushing your teeth in the morning to climbing between the sheets at night your day is filled with the habits you’ve developed throughout your lifetime. Some are great, others . . . not so much.

Replacing bad habits or developing new ones is a down-right hard task.

In this article you’ll find some interesting information concerning what happens when you’re trying to form new good habits to replace the old bad ones.  

Good Habits produce better results

Here are a dozen business enhancing habits to give you inspiration. Not all of them will work for you. For instance, if you’re already a big-picture person you may need to get better at looking for details. And, if you’re no good at saying “no” you may need to build a “no” habit. Whereas, if you respond negatively before hearing out the proposition you may need to get better at saying “yes.”

Learn a new practical business skill

Build and maintain business systems

Practice being more organized

Grow better at seeing important details

Notice the big picture

Strengthen your imagination – be a visionary

Create simple routines

Be more flexible and agile

Improve your delegating skills

Grow your listening skills

Get better at saying “no”

Enhance your ability to say “yes” to the right things

Good Habit building tactics

  • Focus on one at a time
  • Start small
  • Insert time in your schedule to:
    • Think about the why
    • Prepare for the how
    • Practice the practical
  • Remind yourself where you’re going
  • Forgive yourself for the missteps (and get back up quickly!)

Good Habits in your ball-court

Choose one of the above suggestions or pick one of your own and get going on building one good habit which will serve your business abundantly now and in the future.

 

How to Hire a Knight in Shining Armor

Hire the right people and your kingdom reigns.

Hire the right knights

Hire someone soon or see your kingdom hurt.

So, you’re the King (owner) of your construction subcontracting business. And you find you’re in need of a few Knights in Shining Armor (skilled tradesmen) to keep your kingdom healthy. Where in the world do you find them?

You know many nearby kingdoms have robust knights in their service and if you’re to compete you must have the same. Yet don’t be fooled, even the large kingdoms are having knight recruitment problems of their own.

Here are the 3 keys to finding your knight

  1. Understand where your kingdom stands
  2. Be sure what your kingdom has to offer
  3. Know which damsel in distress your potential knight seeks

Where your kingdom stands

Whether you’re the new king on the block or a king who has been around for a while there are things about your kingdom which make it unique. What are they?

  • Does your kingdom have great potential for growth which is sure to bring its knights along with it?
  • Have you been around long enough to show your kingdom strength is stability?
  • Are you actively seeking ways to use construction tech to appeal to a generation of knights which is attuned to screens and clicks?
  • Do you have seasoned knights in your kingdom willing to pass on the information and skills they possess?
  • Are you a king whose strength is sharing the kingdom vision?
  • Does your kingdom have knights who know how to have fun and work in harmony?
  • Is your kingdom one where Squires are welcome?

Take time to think through and list all the things about your kingdom (subcontracting business) which make it unique at this point in time. They’re likely to change as your kingdom grows. Yet, for now, what makes the grass greener in your kingdom than the grass of kingdoms nearby?

Tidbit from Medieval Life and Times

“Knighthood training was a long and often arduous process. Knighthood training began in early childhood when a basic education and good manners and rules of etiquette were taught at home. At the age of 7 young boys were sent away to the castles and homes of wealthy lords or relatives to embark on their knighthood training. From the age of seven to fourteen these young boys were given the role of a Medieval Page. From fourteen to twenty-one these ‘apprentice knights’ were referred to as Squires . The different types and styles of Knighthood training depended on the age and strength of the apprentice knights. Knighthood training was focussed (sic) on weapon practise (sic) which included enhancing skills in horsemanship, the two-handed sword, battle axe, mace, dagger and lance.”

What your kingdom has to offer

If you were to have town-criers stand at the gates of your kingdom (and you should) what would you have them say to those who might be seeking a knighthood in your realm? If you can offer all the items in the list below, then by all means have your town-criers (marketing and advertising) call them out loud and clear. Otherwise look for those you can provide and make sure every knight in your realm has opportunity to see what you have to offer.

  • Excellent salary
  • Paid training
  • Life insurance
  • Profit sharing
  • Medical insurance (medical, dental, vision)
  • Kingdom culture (including fun work environment)
  • Opportunities for kingdom advancement
  • Safety practices
  • Bonuses (including sign-on bonus)
  • Paid vacations
  • Kingdom provided cell phones
  • Retirement programs
  • Kingdom outings
  • Food (weekly breakfast, lunches, or other meals “on the king”)
  • Steads (kingdom vehicles)
  • Organized yard
  • Efficient offices
  • Clothing (free kingdom uniforms)
  • Weapons (use of kingdom tools)

Where to have your town-criers stand. Everywhere!

  • Job fairs
  • High schools
  • Tech schools
  • Community colleges
  • Veterans organizations
  • Inmate rehab organizations
  • Job hiring services (use more than one)
  • Your family and friends
  • Through referral bonuses to employees
  • Social media channels
  • Craigslist ads
  • Even newspaper ads

Which damsel in distress?

Every knight who comes your way has a pretty good idea of which damsel in distress he is seeking. (That might change – but hey, for now, the knight has a damsel in mind.) For example, we recently heard of a subcontractor who lost two of his skilled tradesmen to someone who doesn’t offer the high-level of pay they had been receiving from him but has a robust benefits package.

So, while some (many) will indeed look for the bottom-line dollar amount, there are those who will be concerned about other damsels. Therefore, take home pay, benefits, and company culture will play a big part in the decision-making process for potential knights, yet there are other considerations. The best knights will come to your door with certain useful attributes and will welcome the opportunity to use them in the service of your kingdom and for the well-being of their particular damsel. Watch for them.

Among them are:

  • Those who will want to build their skills concerning establishing customer rapport and relations. (Hint: they’re usually friendly and outgoing – they like people.)
  • Others will want to know that they’ll have a job which doesn’t interfere (often) with their home time. They want to go to work, do a good job, then go home at night without having to worry about the next day.
  • Then there are those who’re anxious to learn, to add skills to their list, and find a path to advancement.
  • There are those who are good at teaching. They’ll welcome the opportunity to teach both their fellow knights as well as your clients. They like being able to help others learn.
  • Some will find their happy moments in connecting people. They want to help you gain new referrals and repeat business. There may be some of the “knowing which side their bread is buttered on” in the process, but mostly they simply enjoy being good connectors.
  • Others will be determined to maintain a clean, organized job site, and well inventoried truck.
  • There are those who pride themselves on being accurate and timely.
  • Some will know how to “take the edge off” with humor or whatever it takes to keep the crew working together.

Each of the traits these knights bring will indicate which damsel they seek. Of course, you’re seeking knights (highly skilled tradesmen) who can and will do their jobs efficiently and with your client’s well-being in mind. They’re not always easy to find, yet you can grow them if you’re willing to build on the traits potential knights bring to the (dare I say it?) round table. (Forgive me, I simply had to do it.)

Hire well!

My mission in presenting the foregoing information has been to bring forth encouraging news, wherewith you, oh King, may make progress in the building of your majestic kingdom.

Or said another way – hope this has been helpful, Mr. Subcontractor.

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