Safety and Your Construction Crew

Help your construction crew understand safety is for them

Safety counts

The most important tool in your “safety toolbox” is found in the minds of your workforce. Therefore, the first hurdle to overcome is the mindset which incorrectly identifies safety and productivity as enemies of one another.

Consequently, it is your job to make certain your subs and employees understand that safety and productivity walk hand in hand.

From the human point of view, no one wants to see someone be injured or killed. That simple.

In addition, from the stats point of view, when safety measures go unheeded (and someone is injured or killed) productivity takes a hike. Also, that simple.

Safety now

Let’s take it down a level. Remember having this conversation with your children? “Stop that! Someone is going to get hurt!” Then, you hear back, “Nobody has gotten hurt so far.”

Similarly, there are times even adults tend to play the nothing-bad-has-happened-so-far card. You know what I mean, you’ve seen it:

  • Not using PPE
  • Disregarding proper procedure when using or repairing tools and equipment
  • Improperly placing ladders or temporary access apparatus
  • Neglecting to disconnect electrical power
  • Entering unprotected trenches or other spaces

Mark Twain, in Innocents Abroad said, “He cuts a corner so closely now and then . . . that I feel myself ‘scooching.’”

For instance, it’s likely you’ve been on a job site where you felt the need to “scooch.” Removing the scooch isn’t easy, yet it is worth it.

The bravado factor

 

A LiveScience article titled, Why Do People Take Risks, mentions that some “. . . desire to venture past the limits of safety in pursuit of a rewarding experience.” Likewise, in the construction industry, the rewarding experience may be as basic as a paycheck. Or, it could be a misguided attempt to fit in with the crowd or please the boss.

The second hurdle of the safety quandary is the bravado factor inherent in many of the people drawn to the construction industry. Certainly, it isn’t that they have a death wish or a desire to be injured. They often see the risk as less than others might perceive.

Safety is No Accident

Instilling a safety-first mentality in your subs and crews is imperative.

Make certain they understand you want them to stick with safety procedures. Help them see it will help keep everyone (including their fellow workers) safe.

Yeah, I know, safety training can be expensive and time-consuming. That’s because safety is so blasted valuable, in every respect.

Safety story

A rich man needed to hire a chauffeur to transport his dear wife to their beautiful new home. A mountain top home. Therefore, the driving job required great skill as the road to the home clung to the side of the mountain. This single-lane road had an edge with a deep drop to the driver’s left.

The rich man took all three candidates to the site and gave this instruction, “Show me your skill for driving on this treacherous road.”

The first candidate drove slowly, slowly up the hill with his tires only inches from the precipitous edge, in an attempt to prove his skill. He was told he would not be needed.

Subsequently, the second driver took the same route with his tires only inches from the drop. And, eager to prove his skill, drove at a higher rate of speed. He too was dismissed as a candidate.

However, it was the third driver who got the job. He was the only one who drove as far away from the edge as the car would allow.

You get it. Most importantly, be sure your employees get it too.

It is our desire this article (among our growing library of construction-centric informational articles) helps commercial construction contractors build better building businesses. http://www.schulteandschulte.com/blog/

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

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

 

3 Steps to Building Your Core Team

Building a core team to improve your construction business

Building your core team with purpose

No matter how small or large your commercial construction business is, having a core group of people (a team) who “get it” will make your job easier. You want people who see your vision, agree with your vision, and will work to help you accomplish your vision.

Before you begin the process of building a core team, you must have a vision for your contracting business. Because, quite simply, your core team must have hooks on which they can hang their hats (and their understanding.)

Building your core team even when there are skeptics

Some folks are born skeptical, live skeptical, and will probably die the same way. And there isn’t much any of us can do about them. So, for the purpose of this article we’re not going to worry much about them.

Yet, there are those who may be skeptical of a process, an intended outcome, or even your vision before they’re brought into the fold. Telling chronic skeptics apart from occasional skeptics is fairly easy when you take the time to look.

This might help. Some names society has adopted to describe skeptics are:

  • Party pooper
  • Wet blanket
  • Killjoy
  • Spoilsport
  • Grinch
  • Naysayer
  • Grouch

And, the way you tell the difference is your level of surprise. Yep, if you’re totally taken off guard by Harry’s party poopiness, it is likely he is simply having a bad day. Likewise, if you’re surprised that Sheila agreed to the request without complaint it is likely she is most frequently a naysayer.

If you’re interested in more information about dealing with naysayers, check out this article from Entrepreneur.

Step 1 Building your core team through equipping them

You pass on your vision from the very beginning of the hiring process. Your vision must be included in the handbook each new hire receives. From that point onward, the vision must be spoken of, acted on, and entrenched in the daily processes you adopt. If your employees don’t know what you want or expect of them, they flounder. If your vision is made perfectly clear they have an easier time of knowing which path to follow next.

Step 2 Building your core team through training them

That means investing in them by sharing podcasts, books, and articles that you read. It means taking them or sending them to classes, workshops, and conferences. Give them responsibilities that stretch and motivate them. Most importantly, show them what you value through your own daily actions.

Step 3 Building your core team by mobilizing them

It does no good to network your team into the vision if you’re unprepared to mobilize them. Perhaps Albert Einstein said it best: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Put another way by Warren Buffet: “Hire smart people and get out of their way.”

Determine what skill sets, talents, and know-how each of your core team members has. Equip them and train them, then give them the freedom to make your construction contracting business better.

What core team building looks like

A core team is a gathering of like-minded people who are all about the vision. It takes clarity on what that team should look like. Further, it takes an investment to help them reach expectations.

 

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

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

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

 

Investing in Convention Attendance

Investing in Convention Attendance can bring you a great ROI

Investing is different than paying to attend

No matter which industry you’re in, seems there’s a convention or trade show for it. Perhaps more than one. And, unless your money tree is sprouting new leaves there is likely to be a cash consideration concerning attendance.

So, you must make your attendance evaluation based on the ROI. Yep, Return on Investment. If you get more in value than what you pay, a conference can certainly be worth it.

Look for the 3 “Es.” The best conventions will Educate, Enlighten, and Entertain you. As a matter of fact, conferences can be information avalanches. That is why it is important to have a goal in mind when you attend. (Hint: You can have more than one goal. Just make sure you have at least one. And don’t count free food and drinks in your goals.) 😉

  • Expand your industry knowledge in general (bring value to your clients)
  • Find solutions to specific business or client related problems (bring added value to your clients)
  • Encounter new vendors and suppliers (who may have options you’ve never thought of)
  • Network with peers (for the sheer joy of it)
  • Position yourself as an expert* (you’ll see an example below as you continue reading)

And, if more than one person from your commercial construction subcontracting business will be attending, it is wise to divide and conquer. Choose different break-out groups, classes, or training sessions. You can meet up for lunch or at the end of the day to share what you’ve learned or found.

Make your way to the exhibit hall; you’ll have opportunity to check out the vendor and partner exhibits so you can view all the new products, equipment, and technology available.

Important Investment returns

Plus, there are two less-measurable (yet highly important) investment returns you’ll want to consider.

  1. Conferences are a bargain when you think about how much education costs.
  2. When you’re immersed for a few days with other go-getters you can’t help but want to get out there and hustle too. Yes! Conferences are a motivation boost for you and your team.

Investing in convention attendance when you get home

Besides the fact you’re likely to meet allies and make friends during your conference days, there is another way to make the most of your investment. Set aside time to pass on what you learned to those who held down the fort while you were gone. In your morning huddle or at a special meeting, allow all who attended time to talk about something they learned, share a way they were inspired, or teach a new skill.

Speaking of conventions

Both Tonya and I will be attending Scaling New Heights this year. This is a conference put on annually by Woodard.

“Scaling New Heights is an internationally-renowned, in-depth training conference for accountants, bookkeepers and other small business advisors.”

And yes, we’ve chosen a few goals. Surprise, surprise! Between us, these are our goals:

  • Expand our industry knowledge in general
  • Find solutions for two client related problems
  • Look for new or updated app and SaaS vendors
  • Network with peers
  • Position Tonya as an expert*

*Tonya has been asked by the Woodard team to be part of a break-out session. It will be comprised of a four-member panel which will discuss the junction of QuickBooks and Construction Contracting. So yeah, we’re tooting our own horn here!

So, look out Salt Lake City and Salt Palace Convention Center! Some (not so) boring accounting, bookkeeping, and small business advisors will be rocking out the place June 16 – 19, 2019!

 

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

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

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

5 Construction Takeaways from Archery

Construction Business lessons from Archery

5 Takeaways from Archery for your construction business

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

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

Construction Business Lesson One

As a sport, archery requires skills of:

  • precision
  • control
  • focus
  • repetition
  • determination

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

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

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

Construction Business Lesson Two

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

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

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

Construction Business Lesson Three

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

Maintain the proper equipment.

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

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

Construction Business Lesson Four

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

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

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

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

Construction Business Lesson Five

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Employer Options Information

Employer plus Air National Guard equals great employee options.

Employer Breakfast With the Boss — on base

There was an invitation to attend a breakfast meeting. There was a response in the affirmative. Then, this happened.

One of our clients contacted Tonya and asked if she would like to attend a meeting sponsored by ESGR (Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve) and Arizona@Work. The stated goal of the meeting was to help employers learn how the partnership between the two above mentioned organizations benefits Arizona Businesses.

So, in the wee hours of the morning, Tonya met with Aubrey of Deer Valley Plumbing Contractors and the two of them traveled to the designated breakfast location where . . . well, I’ll let Tonya pick it up from here.

What I thought was going to happen

Because of the fact that the connection to our client was through Arizona@Work and their recruiting program, both Aubrey and I  thought this breakfast meeting was going to be about recruitment. We also thought it was about how to work with several government agencies to enhance recruiting techniques for employers.

What actually happened

The breakfast we were served was well prepared and everyone there was welcoming and friendly. We discovered soon after the meeting began that our preconceived notions were incorrect.

What we did in fact learn was far more fascinating in many respects. To begin with, we learned a lot about the purpose and mission of the Phoenix Arizona Air National Guard base. This is  a base that I didn’t even know existed prior to this day. Their primary mission  is providing “In-flight Refueling to all US Armed Forces and allied nations’ aircraft extending their flying range with the capabliity of transporting cargo, personnel and medevac operations.”

We heard from the base colonel all about the mission. He explained ways in which the mission could be threatened. And he discussed how the mission is carried out by Air National Guardsmen. 500 or so of them are only part timers who rely on their civilian employers to pay their actual bills.

Employer, this is where it gets good

We also heard how they train those part timers and how much that training can be of benefit to their employers. Then we found out what ESGR  is and how it fits into the picture as a wholly volunteer team of liaisons and mediators between employers, Guardsmen and Women, as well as Reservists. We also learned that Arizona@Work works in concert with ESGR. And we learned more about how their employment centers benefit both job-seekers and employers.

It was all fascinating information that neither I nor Aubrey had known before. Plus, at the end of the breakfast we were warmly welcomed to tour the base and talk with several of the full-time guardsmen on duty to learn more about them and their incredibly important mission.

Three things that I took away from the day

The Air National Guard base here in Phoenix, Arizona plays a vital part in the overall mission of the military. (And, I am grateful for their work and their part in that big picture!)

ESGR is dedicated to helping support the men and women who are willing to be on reserve, ready to answer the call of our nation when needed. As well, they support the employers who employ those men and women and have need of a stable and able workforce.

Arizona@Work has recognized the need for skilled and qualified tradespeople in the construction industry and are putting together some apprenticeship programs to fill that gap for employers.

There you have it

Pretty cool stuff, huh? Tonya came back to the office quite excited about how her morning had gone. When she began telling me all the fun new information she had gathered I asked her to share here.

Yet, there’s one more thing she didn’t tell you, and I’ma gonna. Tonya was so excited that she had been able to spend one hour in route to the breakfast location and one hour back simply visiting with and having fun with our delightful client, Aubrey.

You can get in touch with us here

How to Know if Your Office System is a Mess

Office systems to keep you from having an office that is a literal and figurative mess.

Office systems – they’re no joke

Office systems could be funny, right? Let’s step back a moment and look at where this post came from.

As per my own advice, I keep a Squirrel List of ideas that have crossed my path.

Occasionally I scan through it when deciding what to write that will benefit our subcontractor clients. A while back I had written what became the title to this article (How to know if your office system is a mess) with a following note which said, “It requires a new file cabinet.” Yeah, I thought is was funny in my own off-the-wall way. You see, we often work with our clients to help them move towards a paperless office for the sake of both security as well as efficiency.

Next, I thought what other “funny” things can I add besides the file cabinet “joke” to come up with a lighthearted post for this page. Turns out office systems are a pretty down-to-earth item not to be tampered with – much. With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy I present the following guide.

Your office system might be a mess if:

Your cleaning crew can’t find your desk

The neighbors complain about the weekly trash overflowing – every week

You would rather be anywhere (including the dog-house) instead of your office

Your biggest business goal is to determine where in the office you left your mobile phone

It requires a new file cabinet

Your office system is important

Office systems in your subcontracting business are just as important as the systems you use in the shop, during the service call, or on the construction site. Get your office systems right and you are a step ahead of your competitors – a giant step ahead.

The absolute, down in the trenches, give-away that your office systems aren’t functioning well is this – you don’t have time for the important stuff.

You don’t have time to work on the things that will grow your business, such as:

  • identify new business opportunities
  • formulate ways to form strategic partnerships
  • find new ways to provide extra value to your clients
  • provide mentorship or training to your valuable employees
  • pursue continuing education concerning tools, supplies, techniques, and best office practices
  • enhance field productivity
  • meet with potential clients
  • develop an effective and evolving organizational structure

Your office system IS a mess when

In no particular order there follows a list of clues showing your office system is a mess – and these aren’t all that funny. If you check off too many of these, you need to rein in the chaos and begin getting your office systems in order. (And yes, the team here at Schulte and Schulte is good at helping our clients pull on those reins.)

Your systems are all and only in your head

There is no backup plan for when things go wrong

You have too many daily goals

Your website is stagnant

Your email inbox is multiple pages long or (worse yet) your physical inbox is over-flowing

People keep quitting

Your few documented systems include names rather than titles concerning who does the work

No one knows where to look for lost information

The phone ringing isn’t a pleasure but a disturbance

You haven’t created (documented) repeatable systems for all your processes

You’re unsure of your costs and expenditures

You don’t know who owes you nor how much they owe

You’re unwilling (or don’t know how) to remove non-performers

You spend too much time putting out fires

Neither you nor your employees can describe your company culture (learn how here)

The physical layout of your office doesn’t lead easily to next-step tasks

You don’t have clarity of purpose

You don’t have a growth-through-systems mindset

And last, but not least . . . it requires a new file cabinet 🤡

If you like having accounting and office systems that work to make you more efficient and effective, therefore making you more profitable, then you can get in touch here or by calling 866-629-7735 to set your place on our waiting list.

Implement a “Give it Away” Policy with Your Construction Team

Develop an above and beyond policy your team uses for dealing with clients

Develop an above and beyond policy your team uses for dealing with clients

Last time, I talked about making decisions concerning whether a change order is necessary when dealing with requests from clients. If you haven’t read that post, take time to do so. Otherwise, what I’m saying from here on out might not make much sense to you. Because, this time I’ll tell you how to go one step further in the process.

Ever thought about telling your team to give time and service to your clients at no additional charge? Ever thought about implementing a Give it Away policy?

Whoa, I know what you’re thinking. “I can’t possibly allow the crew to give it away, I’ll go broke!” That would possibly be true, unless you have a specific strategy in play concerning what and when to give away.

There are 3 levels involved in developing a Give it Away policy

Model the behavior

Model the behavior you want your team to emulate. Be the man or woman of integrity, conscience, and kindness you want every person on your team to be. When at all possible go the extra mile, give your clients more than they expected, be the guy or gal they want to recommend to others.

Teach your team

Teach your team what is acceptable in the give-more-than-expected category. Each trade will have its own set of approved above and beyond measures. Take the time to think about what will be on your “yes we can” list and make sure your team knows what they are. You’ll also have to let them know there may be things which pop up that aren’t on the list. Give them the metrics for discerning which are worthy. Should it be added to the list? You decide. And yes, there are likely to be mistakes made. Learn from it, teach your crew from it, and move on.

Reward the team

Reward those of your team who follow your guidelines and your model. Consider having a once a week Tattle and Reward session during your morning huddle. Fridays are a good day to practice this as events will be fresh in your team’s minds. It will likely take a few weeks to get the idea rolling, and its likely you’ll have to do much of the initial “tattling,” yet your crew will catch on. Encourage people to tattle on themselves also.

Here are some examples of what you want to hear from your team:

“I saw Dave helping our client unload some heavy boxes from his pickup.”

“I noticed Leslie installing a door knocker on Mrs. Smith’s new door.”

“I fixed the catch on the electrical box, so the client could open it from his wheelchair.”

You get the idea. The reward could be as simple as a round of applause for the person who is being tattled on. Or, you may wish to have a number of gift cards ready to be handed out to the hands who excelled. A five-dollar coffee shop card, a ten-dollar fast food card, a fifty-dollar gift card for a department store, or even higher denominations to a tool store might be in order. Some other rewards you may wish to include are branded coffee mugs and water bottles, lunch with the boss, books, lottery or movie tickets, a car wash certificate, or any item you know would be appreciated. It is up to you or a supervisor you designate what you’ll be giving, depending on the level of engagement from your crew members.

More for you to consider

The actions involved as well as the rewards given can range from the humble (screwed a latch back on a window) to the impressive (saved a client’s life.)

Training your team to be thoughtful won’t happen overnight.

The rewards you and your team receive by practicing going above and beyond won’t always be easily measurable.

Be sure to bring your sense of humor to the Tattle and Reward meeting, because . . . well you know, construction hands “just wanna have fun.”

If a mistake has been made, remember rewards take place in public, yet admonishments are taken care of in private.

Consider your social marketing angle and think about asking your team to provide pictures as often as possible. A phone and a specified email address could be all the tools they’ll need.

You can reach our construction accounting specialized team by calling 866-629-7735 or getting in touch here.

 

Short and Sweet the Way to Meet

Morning huddles help your business grow and and be successful.

Morning huddles help your business grow and and be successful.

Better management in your construction business through daily meetings

Safety meetings are Boring! But they don’t have to be, and they shouldn’t be!

Daily huddles, morning meetings, toolbox talks, tailgate meetings, safety meetings – it doesn’t matter what you call it, having a meeting daily with your crew is essential.

If your construction safety officer, your site foreman, or you are the person in charge of the safety meeting make sure the meetings are worth attending. Whoever is leading should be up to the challenge of briefly conveying the message in ways that keep everyone involved and glad they attended.

An explanation (of sorts)

Before going further, I’ll explain what led to this particular article being written. As the Office Mom here at Schulte and Schulte, I was looking for information concerning how to hold morning meetings for our virtual office. (BTW, I found some good stuff.) And, along the way two things happened.

First of all, I discovered there seems to be a wide difference in how many types of businesses outside the construction industry use the morning meeting and how many construction contractors typically use the time. (And, sorry . . . but, if I were giving grades, many contractors would get an “F” for how they conduct their meetings.)

The second thing that happened was, I sat down with a construction superintendent and one of the subjects which came up was “toolbox talks.” He was frustrated with the process he had been given and admitted that he often simply skipped the “talks.” He felt that his company only provided materials and sign-off sheets because they were hoping to avoid the ire of OSHA.

So, my friend, (you know who you are) this is for you.

Getting down to basics

When – NOT whenever you happen to think about it. But, daily. Daily so it becomes an ingrained habit with both you and your workers. And, make the start of the meeting at an odd time – say 7:07. The odd time helps your crew think in increments of minutes and subtly influences the pace of the meeting. Plus, it sets this meeting apart as being something different and special.

Where – NOT at the local restaurant. But, at the jobsite. Being at the jobsite frees precious minutes to get going when the meeting is over. (Some companies provide a mini-breakfast like doughnuts, or bagels, or breakfast burritos, and coffee, but it isn’t necessary, and you need to determine what is best for you and your crew.)

Why – NOT just because you will be able to satisfy some OSHA requirements through ongoing training. (Although that is just one of many advantages.) But, because it is the most effective method to refresh your workers’ knowledge, to deal with up-to-date safety checks, and exchange current information.

How – NOT through haphazard and wishful thinking. But, by making attendance mandatory and . . . well that is the subject of the rest of this article.

Having morning meetings that rock!

The time spent in the morning as a team helps improve individual morale as well as reinforce company culture. This is the place to let everyone know about “having each other’s back” and giving your workers the means to be successful on a daily basis.

This is not the time to investigate bottlenecks. Rather, this time is an opportunity to quickly convey the necessary information and guide employees in a given direction.

One

Start on a high note by letting different members of the team (quickly) describe any “wins” they’ve had on the job or in their personal lives. “We stood up twelve columns yesterday, two more than our goal.” “My wife gave birth to twins over the weekend!” You see how this leads right into team unity as well as team morale.

Two

Impart the important information – often safety tips. Don’t worry about finding safety topics to discuss. You can find them here, here, here, here, and here. And there is at least one toolbox talks app you may want to check out here. Depending on time of year, type of job, or other situations you can choose those most suited to your present needs. You may also wish to leave out the safety tips on occasion and use those precious minutes to discuss successful job milestones, or overall company health and wellbeing, or another exciting topic which is pertinent to the team.

Three

Make assignments concerning what each individual or team needs to accomplish for the day. (Make sure you document this in writing or on the appropriate app so there won’t be any “But I thought we decided . . .” later in the day or week.)

Four

End on a high note. It could be a quick cheer, or something like a daily inspirational quote, or asking people to name something they learned yesterday, or even a daily joke or pun. Your team feeling uplifted and cheerful at the end of the meeting will help set the tone for the rest of their day.

5 important tips

  1. Keep everyone standing – this helps convey the brevity of the meeting

 

  1. Turn off all phones and (do your best to) limit other distractions

 

  1. Start and end on time

 

  1. Stay on topic

 

  1. Document what was decided (Who was assigned to do what and in what time frame?)

5 good ideas you may wish to try

  1. Have the crew participate in brief stretching exercises to prepare for the work ahead

 

  1. Provide snack-like breakfast items (perhaps only once a week or on special occasions)

 

  1. Include “best of” types of mentions or rewards occasionally during the meeting (Who went above and beyond to satisfy a customer? Who had a great eye for the possible safety hazard yesterday and took care of the situation? Who is a new daddy?)

 

  1. Consider having different members of the team present the “main” topic as guided by their expertise or some other criteria.

 

  1. Invite office personnel to present occasionally when items like filling out the necessary paperwork, using the proper channel for reporting hours worked, teaching use of new apps, or other office-centric activities need to be addressed.

Some final thoughts

Ten to fifteen minutes seems to be the most recommended time frame for completing the morning meeting, but there are those who say seven minutes is just perfect.

Prepare your agenda in advance of each meeting, stick to a format that works for you and your team.

Create a predictable rhythm the team will anticipate, thus helping them to be cued and ready to participate at each changing stage of the morning huddle.

 Get in touch to see how Schulte and Schulte can be of service

to your construction contracting or service business by going here

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.

Strategies for Finding and Keeping Good Construction Employees

A successful construction contracting or service business means having great people on your team. Finding and keeping those great people is a vital part of maintaining the success. So, how do you go about not only finding them, but also keeping them around?

Long term thinking

Of course, people who are looking for a job are concerned with both salary and benefits, yet those two items are only part of the equation.

Just as on the sales side of your company it is important to build a reputation for going above the expected with customer care and satisfaction, it is important to build a reputation for providing what potential employees are seeking and giving even more.

You have a number of possibilities concerning the reputation just right for your construction company to attract great employees. And, you can figure out rather quickly which your reputation is more likely to be, because it will be tied to your core values. There is more information about core values here.

Here are some examples of the reputation you may build, of the junction where your company and your potential employees may meet up:

  • strives to be organized and efficient
  • seeks projects that are unique and challenging
  • provides opportunity for advancement
  • uses the same systems and products
  • makes safety a big issue

Look through the list of your construction company’s core values and you’re likely to find a number of points which will provide value to your employees as well as potential employees.

Yet, you must remember it is truly the reputation that counts. In the long run, thinking long-term, it is incumbent upon you to strive constantly to build a reputation of being an excellent company to work for.

Now is the time to look at hiring the young and (perhaps) inexperienced, giving them opportunity to go through an apprenticeship, training, and step-by-step movement into supervisory roles. Certainly, these movements take time, yet when you are upfront with new employees about what they can expect and how long it will take, you give them more incentive to stick around.

Just as you must make sure the ads you post seeking new employees include the qualities you want in a new hire, you must include the benefits as well as the special qualities your company provides.

While you’re at it, remember engaging with today’s workforce means using today’s technology. Think in terms of mobile devices, social media, and the collaboration tools young people are used to and will learn easily.

I need boots on the ground now

You may have found you’ve been unable to bid on jobs you wanted because you simply don’t have the “boots on the ground” right now. Or, you may have had to tell your customer it is going to take a little longer than expected because you simply don’t have enough people to don the hard hats necessary to complete on time.

That being said, what can be done to find employees now who will be an asset to your business in years to come?

I’ve asked around with people I know “in the business,” checked with my good friend “google,” and searched my own personal memory banks to find answers to the question. Like most things in life, there is no magic wand when it comes to finding, hiring, and retaining the best employees, yet there are some strategies you can use to aid in the endeavor.

  • offer referral bonuses which encourage current employees to recommend competent people for open positions
  • encourage feedback from present employees and make improvements based on what you learn
  • become a supporter of the apprenticeship programs in your area
  • reach out to technical schools and high school career programs
  • create or join a program where you and other contractors bring in students annually for tours, hands on interaction, and a discussion of the job opportunities in the construction field*
  • employ construction focused interns for summer programs
  • create the right job posting
  • use social media to attract a younger demographic to the trades

*For those of you who are in Arizona, here is an example of a program you may be interested in being a part of. It is being presented by the Association of Construction Career Development, and this year it is being held on November 2nd. Check it out. Click through their pages. You may want to sponsor or volunteer.

Keeping ‘em around

This part starts with you and the supervisors in your construction company. You must show good character and have integrity. Leaders create the environment, and make or break the possibility of attracting and keeping employees who are honest, who show responsibility, and who can grow and thrive.

Once you’ve recognized and hired good workers they need to be utilized and trained in meaningful ways. You can include them in the process by letting them know, “this is where we’re going.” Encourage them to take ownership of their work.

Reward them. One fellow I heard from said, “We reward our employees randomly for their excellent work.”

Sometimes, a handwritten note or personal e-mail thanking or congratulating an employee will be reward enough. Other times, providing gift cards to a deserving team is appropriate. Taking the entire crew to a lunch or dinner meal will go a long way to show your appreciation of them.

Be sure to include professional development opportunities through training and classes.  Prove you’re invested in them long-term by encouraging them to learn new skills or further develop their strengths.

Strive to make it known yours is a workplace where employees are respected and trusted. Work hard to show your employees they have reason to have a sense of security that comes with stability – meaning hanging around has its advantage.

Be sensitive to and care about the needs of your employees as well as their families.

You should be able to pass on to your employees the concept that their wellbeing and the companies wellbeing walk hand-in-hand. Helping them to see they are a part of the big picture serves both your business and the employee’s sense of pride in job well done.

How Schulte and Schulte can assist you

As a part of the suite of accounting services we offer our construction contractor clients, they can choose to allow us to prepare their payroll and deal with all the details associated with that task.

Did you know Inc. Magazine extolls the benefits of outsourcing “payroll” for small businesses? That makes sense to us, because that gives you, the contractor or service provider the time to seek, hire, and engage your employees in the services you provide your customers.

And since we specialize in accounting for construction contractors and service providers you know we know all the ins and outs of the industry. Give us a call to see how we can be of assistance to you. 480-442-4032 or Toll Free: 866-629-7735