Putting out the Fires
Interruptions – you got ‘em
When daily interruptions and distractions keep you always on your toes as you put out the small fires they entail, it is hard to focus on what matters. When you have no time left for taking care of the business of being in business, of setting the course of your construction company, of making strategic decisions, you know something is amiss.
When the emails, phone calls, instant messages, and face to face questions plus the back to back meetings and last-minute deadlines loom, you find yourself grabbing the extinguisher in a wild attempt to quench the latest fire. You may even be tempted to think like Winston Churchill, who said, “Don’t interrupt me while I’m interrupting.”
Take it easy and remember, you’re a construction contractor, not a fireman.
While it is tempting to think of the multiple interruptions (the fires) which pop up in your day as a time management problem, it goes deeper than that. Often those multiple daily fires which do indeed disrupt and deplete your time are a matter of relationship management.
And just what is relationship management? Dr. Allen Zimmerman says, “It’s all about your ability to get the best out of others … your ability to inspire and influence them, your ability to communicate and build bonds with them, and your ability to help them change, grow, develop, and resolve conflict.”
“To say my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, ‘Your end of the boat is sinking.'” – Hugh Downs
Within the bounds of your construction business, there are, in general, three groups of people with whom you form essential relationships. They are:
1. Your team members
2. The subcontractors you bring on board
3. The general contractors and owners with whom you work
Team members who are empowered
Getting employees to choose, cherish, and care for your construction company depends on the following empowerment trinity.
1. Company values
2. Chain of command
3. Operating systems
Invest in these three components to empower your employees; then, you can hang the fire extinguisher back on the wall for those times when it is needed.
Company values. From employee handbooks to wall signage, from tailgate talks to water cooler talks, be sure your employees know the values you and your construction company operate under. Be sure they understand what you expect as well as what will not be tolerated.
Chain of command. As discussed in this post organized construction contractors know how to use the chain of command. And employers who establish and adhere to a chain of command protocol have less call to utilize the business day fire extinguisher.
Operating systems. When documented operating systems are established, and at the beck and call of your employees, you’re no longer the only person in the room who has all the answers. Take a deep breath and get back to the business of working on your business.
“There is no waste of time in life like that of making explanations.” – Benjamin Disraeli
Subcontractors who are properly commissioned
When subcontractors don’t know what you will and won’t accept or what you expect, they can be left afloat. Of course, your contract with subcontractors includes:
· Assignments and responsibilities
· Due dates
· Pay rates
Another document to use with your subcontractors is a policy manual. It should include rules and regulations, much like your employee handbook. Critical information must be given. Some items that should be addressed are:
· Code of conduct
· Conflict of interest
· Intellectual property
This document allows you to set and communicate your boundaries. It enables you to be clear about expectations, protect your company, and protect other staff.
Also, be sure your independent subcontractors understand the chain of command as it pertains to them.
General contractors who understand your value
Knowing what the GC or owner wants and how he wants it delivered is essential. It is just as important to help the GC or owner understand your worth, your value, how important your construction company is in successfully completing the project.
Let’s face it; there are times when general contractors, owners, or their representatives don’t show respect or recognize the proper boundaries. Sometimes it is just a matter of getting on with the job, finishing it, and moving on. But generally, there are ways to establish your value and command respect forthrightly.
Although there is power in being able to bring your past achievements or recommendations from others to the table, there is also a need to establish boundaries that are more subtle and may not be a part of the contract.
· Set a good example by minimizing the times you interrupt.
· Know the value your construction business brings; show your confidence.
· Determine what you are and are not responsible for in the general contractor’s or owner’s adventures and misadventures.
· If you make an error, own it.
· Anticipate important meetings or approaching deadlines and avoid last-minute panics.
· Don’t walk away from conflicts but accept them as what they are and do so in a respectful manner.
· Show up on time.
· Follow through on promises.
· Strive to be sure your team provides work of high quality.
· Present yourself in a way that's friendly, yet professional and competent.
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca
The most basic form of respect is respecting people’s time. When you set and communicate your boundaries, you give those with whom you work the framework for interaction and cooperation with less interruption.
And consider this,
· You’re not as necessary to the whole story as you may think you are.
· You’re not as available as some of your employees or subcontractors think you are.
· You’re not as dime-a-dozen as some general contractors think you are.
The Profit Constructors provide Construction Accounting and Operational Accountability for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.
Our services allow you to organize your operations so you can
· Remain informed
· Avoid hassles
· Reduce risks
And 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.
So you can Run With the Big Dogs! Call us 866-629-7735