The Hidden Strategy for Construction Subcontractors

It is phenomenal what being organized can do for commercial construction subcontractors

It’s not magic, but it is phenomenal what being organized can do for commercial construction subcontractors. From attracting the best employees to getting better bid opportunities, the foremost contractors are the ones who “have their act together.” That means, quite simply, everything from their minds to their offices are organized.

Being Organized – It’s the Name of the Game!

During the years I’ve spent with leaders in a variety of industries (including construction contractors,) I’ve come to realize that one important quality great leaders achieve is the ability to be well organized.

Put another way, a solid system of organization is crucial to great leadership.

Getting down to brass tacks – productivity is minimalized when disorganization is maximized.

And, productivity is crucial to developing the construction subcontracting company excellent general contractors are seeking.

Organizing with a purpose

Being organized allows you to:

  • Find what you need when you need it
  • Remain on track with your goals and objectives
  • Prioritize with increased knowledge and understanding
  • Focus on important relationships
  • Increase employee satisfaction

And frankly, being organized gives you a competitive advantage when submitting bids or otherwise seeking jobs.

A month of organizing strategies and tactics

For this entire month, the Schulte and Schulte blog and social media posts will focus on giving construction contractors information and guidance concerning organizing strategies and tactics.

The areas we will talk about organizing are:

  • Mind
  • Time
  • Tech
  • Space

You do want to be a highly effective leader. Right? Then come along. We’ll get started today by introducing the information concerning organizing your mind.

Get this in your head

Back in the 90s, there was this saying going around and around and around to the point of ad nauseum. It was “garbage in, garbage out.” You know the reference was to computers and was a way of saying you can’t expect good solutions if you’re inserting bad information.  One online dictionary asserts the saying is, “used to express the idea that in computing and other spheres, incorrect or poor quality input will always produce faulty output.”

While you don’t hear the saying being used much today, the sentiment remains. And, that part about “other spheres” is important because the best computing machine is your brain.

The latest saying in this brain/computer regard is, “I have too many tabs open in my brain.” Some fun wisecrackers add, “and I have no idea where the music is coming from.”  🔊

You get it, don’t you? You’ve experienced those moments when it seems your coffee cup is overflowing, yet someone is holding the coffeepot above your cup and pouring, pouring, pouring. Heck, there might be three or four coffeepots with their spouts aimed at your cup.

Act like a detective

I recently heard former detective Joe Kenda of the television show Homicide Hunter say that when he reached the scene of a crime, his first action was to stop the chaos. As he explained it, he cleared non-essential people from the scene, cleared his head, and clarified for those remaining what their next steps should be.

Clear non-essential thoughts

Royale Scuderi, posting on Lifehack, wrote an article that suggests three steps to clear non-essential thoughts. Go ahead and look, what she suggests is simple, doable, and important.

Clear your head

From there, it is time to clear your head. That might mean taking control of your emotions, or it could be sustaining your focus.

Although you have little control of how you “feel,” you have complete control of how you will react to the emotion. Travis Bradberry, President of TalentSmart, says, “The key is to identify and label your emotions as you experience them. Associating words with what you are feeling makes the emotion tangible and less mysterious. This helps you to relax, figure out what’s behind your emotion, and move forward.”

Sustaining your focus is aided by turning off the distractions. Close the door. Turn off the distraction culprits such as the phone, email, and social media. Hang a sign on your door if needed. Go somewhere else if that is what it takes. And, if you still find your mind wandering, consciously bring your focus back to the task at hand.

Clarify the next steps

It is time to reflect and determine which thoughts you’re going to let back into your mind. You may find yourself in a bit of a Catch 22 situation. How do you know what to act upon next when you’ve essentially emptied your mind of all its griminess?

Try using these boundaries for determining what to allow space in your mind.

  • The old “great idea” is no longer useful because circumstances have changed – toss it.
  • Worry over something about which you have no control is of no use – dump it.
  • Some ideas are okay, but you won’t act on them – give them to someone else to handle.
  • Some ideas might need consolidation because they are alike or similar.
  • Realize some ideas are good, but not for you.
  • Assess which ideas are worth pursuing, but at a later date.

Don’t worry if you haven’t been (totally) successful in stopping the chaos. You’ve likely made some inroads and with practice will get better at organizing your mind.

This has been the first in a four-part series concerned with organizing your construction business. Next time the emphasis will be on organizing your time. Make time for it. 😎

Update: Here is the link, Organizing Time in the Construction World.

Second Update: The third post in the series, found here, is about organizing tech.

Third Update: The fourth and final post in this series is about Organizing your Office Space. 

 

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

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

Strategy Planning in Your Construction Business

Strategy Planning in Your Construction Business

Strategy for Goals Planning

In the first two parts of this series we dealt with Task Priority planning and Goals Priority planning.  This time we’ll look at the Strategy infused in Goals Planning.

“There are simply no shortcuts in the long run.” Frank Sonnenberg

Mr. Sonnenberg has a good way of cutting through the hype. While there are easier ways to get certain tasks done, in the long run it is hard work that leads to the win. It is hard work to own, maintain, and run a commercial construction contracting business. Yet, understanding how to prioritize daily tasks as well as long and short-term goals is one way to lighten the load.

Now, let’s delve into what goes on between dealing with today’s daily tasks and reaching long or short-term goals. How do you prioritize the strategic steps to take in order to reach those goals?

Strategy pencil or chisel?

Before we go further, it is well to look at whether your goals and strategy should be written in pencil or chiseled in stone. There are different circumstances which apply, both from the standpoint of what you hope to achieve and your own temperament.

This article When to Set Rigid Goals, and When to Be Flexible, from Harvard Business Review explains how to approach the issue.  The authors lay out the circumstances and principles quite well.

Strategy in context

The goal is the main “big thing” you want to accomplish. A strategy is the path you take to achieve a goal. Built into your strategy will be objectives. The tactics you use to reach each objective are the tools which make it happen.

Think of it this way. Say your goal is to lose weight.

Goal: Lose 20 pounds in 4 months

Strategy: A mix of diet and exercise.

Objectives:

  • research (which food, which gym)
  • purchase a gym membership
  • buy smaller dinner plates
  • empty cupboards of high-calorie snack foods
  • replace previous foods with diet approved items

Tactics:

  • stick to the new diet
  • exercise at the gym

Gym memberships and smaller plates are objectives framed in your strategy. Gym memberships and owning smaller plates won’t help you lose weight. It is the actual tactic of eating less and exercising that moves you to the goal.

Strategy in action

Once you spot a problem in your construction company systems you can set a goal which addresses it.

Let’s say you have a crew which arrive at the jobsite only to discover they’ve left the yard with some of the necessary tools and a few pieces of important materials left behind.

And, this isn’t the first time.

You’ve spotted the problem – inefficiency.

Goal: Reach X% more employee efficiency on all projects by X month of X year.

Strategy: Discover and implement ways to ensure each vehicle leaving the yard is stocked and well equipped for each job.

Objective: Develop systems and checklists for assuring each vehicle leaves the yard prepared for each job daily.

Tactics:

  • Transparency with employees concerning costs and lost opportunity costs due to inefficiency
  • Incentives for superior performance
  • Easily accessed checklists

Often as you take the steps toward your goal you discover unforeseen problems. You can meet the challenges, even change path more easily if you’ve already outlined the goal, strategy, objectives and tactics.

For example, suppose the excellent digital checklist you’ve devised for your crews frustrates them. You may push the, “it takes time to learn, give it a chance” button with your crews or you may decide paper checklists will work just as well.

Strategy you’re familiar with

You likely already use some of the thinking processes involved in this manner of reaching goals even if you haven’t formalized it. Yet, if you practice using this method in writing you’ll be better able to notice missing pieces. You’ll also be better at follow-through and corrective action.

It is our desire this 3-part series of articles (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 lighten your back-office and accounting burden. Toll Free: 866-629-7735