Recycling old problems
One of the most frustrating challenges in the building industry is watching profit slip away due to costly and often unnecessary mistakes. It hurts to feel like we’ve been victimized in spite of hours of hard work and preparation; especially considering the negative impact on our bottom line. That’s called ‘lose-win’, and obviously not a sustainable strategy.
Granted, we deal with a lot of variables and unknowns, but those are not excuses to recycle old and chronic problems over and over. I think it’s safe to say that no one gets into the construction business with a goal of losing money. So why settle for anything less than excellent results, especially considering how much is at stake in terms of your long-term investment of time, money and energy?
Profit, defined not just as healthy net income, but also the time to enjoy it, is not accidental. It takes steadfast resolve and purposeful action to achieve it. If you really want it (you do right?), the first step is to address the costly issues that stop or compromise it, and create written goals and action plans to move beyond them. Strategy is nothing more than a plan to win, and playing to win is serious business requiring serious leadership. Profit is not just a byproduct of busyness.
Identify the goal
The real power of a written goal is not the goal itself, but who creates it. If you are serious about progress, get the people who have direct influence over the outcomes involved in the goal setting process! Missing this step is where most leaders lose the battle before it begins. When you invite your front line people into the discussion change begins almost immediately.
Is it lack of accuracy in estimating projects, unclear or inaccurate hand off of details from sales to production, or maybe a need for more training or documented systems to increase efficiency and reduce waste? Whatever the case, keep in mind that your front line people usually know what is going on before you do, but most likely have never been asked to help resolve it. And that is the very definition of average; a team of people who come to work for a paycheck instead of an organization.
Invite front line people into the process
Sit everyone down, explain the problem as you see it, and clearly describe the negative consequences for the team, the organization and your customers. Then ask the pivotal questions: “What do we need to do to resolve this issue and move beyond it as an organization?” Or “What would our customers say we need to change in order to best serve them?” Those are million dollar questions that bring teams together to collaboratively solve even the most complex problems. The answers you get (often requiring more than a little prodding, especially in the early going) become your organization’s gateway to defining the exact action steps needed to blow through old cycles of waste and inefficiency!
Whatever costly mistakes your organization is experiencing, they can be overcome! The turning point is a leader’s decision to practice steadfast resolve, upset the status-quo and make change an integral part of the daily organizational mindset.
Create a culture of change
Will everyone instantly comply and willingly participate? Probably not – you can’t change people. But you can influence them. When the nucleus of a team begins to adopt a problem-solving mindset, the shift to a culture of purposeful winning and accountability has already begun. And over time, mediocre people have a very big choice to make: either join the team, or be pushed off of it. That’s progress!