Part 2 – Let Middle Managers Manage

 

 

This is part 2 of a 2-part discussion about growing your business through growing your middle managers. If you missed part 1 which concerns what you as an owner should be doing in your construction contracting business you can go here.

Have you ever gotten a chuckle out of the scene when a three-year-old announces, “I do it myself,” over a task which he may or may not be able to accomplish? What we usually do is allow the child time and space to prove he can or prove he can’t. Either way, the child has learned something. You may have to use the same approach when training the folks on your middle management team. Let them try. They may succeed, they may fail. Either way they (and you) have learned something.

That being said, it is imperative to remember, “I tie my own shoes,” is different from “I boil my own water,” and you’ll, of course, need to be discerning when handing off assignments which are age (or skill-level) appropriate.

Grow middle managers for your construction contracting or service business

You may have any number of different titles for your middle managers. Some which come to mind are:

  • superintendent
  • operations manager
  • project coordinator
  • foreman
  • project director
  • safety manager

Whatever they are called, the people who make up your team of middle managers are important to the lifeblood of your company.

3 important components used to build your middle management team

Communicate with them

Listen to them. Listen to them. Listen to them. Yes, you’ll have essential information to pass on to them, yet it is important to engage them in collaborative conversations. Listen to their concerns, hear their feedback, discern their needs. Think about where they’re coming from, what their perspective is and be prepared to ask questions to define the conversation. When you’re aiding them in understanding they’re a middle manager who is important to the function and goals of the company, they’re more likely to align themselves with the mission and purpose of your construction contracting or service business.

Train them

Develop their leadership skills. It is important to model good leadership skills in your interactions with middle managers. You should also consider providing scheduled training in various areas. The training may take place in a class room, online, at a boot camp, at a conference, or “on the job,” yet is best not left to chance. This article written by Brad Humphrey from For Construction Pros offers valuable information concerning training superintendents. The information found there is good across the board for your various middle managers.

Sharpen them

Maintain a set of questions to use when conversing with them. While the questions shouldn’t be considered ice-breakers, there is a component of “getting to know your people” that will come with asking good questions. Try questions like this:

  • What have you learned this week?
  • When was the last time your routine changed?
  • What are your bottlenecks?
  • Where is the most friction on this job?
  • What isn’t working?
  • How would you fix it?
  • What decisions can I help you make?
  • How is everything going?
  • Which task did you most recently delegate and to whom?
  • What great thing happened to you professionally or personally this week?

Provide strategic input to your middle managers and then allow them the freedom to implement those strategies. Micromanaging them is a waste of your time as well as theirs. Instead, make sure they know and understand their tasks and responsibilities. Finally, give them the power to make decisions instead of bothering you.

Your call to action

The first step you can take is to make a list of everything you can delegate to your current middle managers. Then using the three steps outlined above, begin growing your middle managers in ways that will in turn aid you in growing your construction contracting or service business. Delegate the proper tasks to the right people and be ready to lead them going forward.

Scale Your Construction Contracting Business

Escalating your business to the next level

So, you’re ready to scale your construction contracting business. It is time to move to a new level. You have plans, thoughts, and ideas about moving into the big league. Read on, because there is a brief primer ahead to help you begin to work through that process. But, before we go any further, I’m going to tell you the same thing my dad had to remind me of on more than one occasion.

If it was easy, everybody would do it

Scaling isn’t as easy as finding the right app, purchasing the correct software, or hiring the right superintendent. It is a process, with many components, and it requires commitment.

I’m not trying to take the wind out of your sails. As a matter of fact, I hasten to add, while you can’t change the direction of the wind, you can adjust your sails in order to reach your destination.

What the heck does it even mean?

A little more than a decade ago I came across the term and the idea of scaling your business. In context, I sort of had an idea of what it meant, but wasn’t completely sure. How about you? Do you know what it means? If not, this definition and explanation of scalability found on divestopedia is short, concise, and is worth your time to check out.

Identify ways to upgrade processes on the path to scaling your business

The most basic take-away from divestopedia’s article is a scalable business is one that focuses on the implementation of processes that lead to an efficient operation.

You’ll need to identify those processes which can be reproduced at a rapid rate, without generating increased costs. Think in terms of automating certain processes that currently require time and hands-on interaction.

One example of this type of automation can be found at your local supermarket, where you’ll find four or more self-check counters manned by only one person.

Another example is how we, at Schulte and Schulte, LLC work with you through accounting software or SaaS and various apps implementing an automated process.

Speaking of apps, this List of 17 construction apps for 2017 is a good place to begin your research into some ways to simplify, update, or structure some of the functions necessary for running your present and future job sites.

Of course, there are other technologies which are no longer the stuff of science fiction, but are already being embraced and are quite literally changing the landscape of the construction contracting field as well as the landscape around us.

  • Robotics
  • Drones
  • 3D printing

Look into what each of these technologies are already being used by your colleagues as well as your competitors. Think in terms of investing in what will bring the most ROI not only now but in the upcoming years.

10 important scale driving measures to take

Scaling your business goes beyond buying the latest technological item or system. There is more to the whole notion of scaling your business. Just as you put in time and effort to start your business, you’ll need to put in additional time and effort to scale your business. Following is a list of actions you’ll need to consider.

  1. Update and reshape your business plan
  2. Line up any necessary funding
  3. Pay attention to your consistent brand messaging across divisions, locations, and mediums
  4. Embrace standardization (scalable companies have effective tools for measurement)
  5. Hire people smarter and more talented than you
  6. Outsource what makes sense
  7. Focus on ROI
  8. Document everything
  9. Plan for the little things
  10. Keep trying until you find what works

In order to scale you must indeed be proactive rather than reactive. Begin building into your business those standardized functions which will continue working whether or not you’re at the helm.

OK, now where is the blueprint?

Not here. I won’t be able to offer you a “Your business blueprint,” yet I have given you enough information to begin putting your own blueprint together. And, good news, (caution — big self-serving plug here) we at Schulte and Schulte, LLC are ready, willing, and able to aid you through accounting advice as you take the scaling up steps.

In case you are wondering. Yes, we have built into our plans and strategy the scaling of Schulte and Schulte, LLC. One of our favorite parts of the plan is that as your construction contracting business scales we’ll be on the scaling escalator right beside you.