Leading Through Crisis

While you may have emergency plans for your business in place, it’s pretty long odds you had anything prepped for a business disruption caused by a global pandemic. 

Even in the best of times, being an effective leader is challenging — no doubt about it. For those of you who’ve had to put your business put on hold, and those who are preparing for it, it’s even harder. 

With that in mind, this article from the Harvard Business Review, “Are You Leading Through the Crisis … or Managing the Response?” has some insights and inspiration you can use right now. 

The authors have studied crisis management for almost 20 years, and say that crises are often over-managed but underled. They’ve put together four traps a leader might fall into during turbulent times.

1. Taking a Narrow View

Your brain is hard-wired to hyper-focus on only the threat. However, leaders need to be able to pull back and see the whole field — what’s happening right in front of you and all around you. Take a broad view, including near-term and long-term challenges. 

2. Getting Seduced by Managing

Managing a crisis can give your adrenalin a boost and be thrilling. The authors liken it to your kids’ sugar high, though. That surge is followed by a crash. Instead, keep taking that long view, and anticipate what’s to come in the next week, the next month, even the rest of the year. You need to delegate, support, and trust your team as they also make tough decisions.

3. Overcentralizing the Response

In other words, you can’t control everything. Instead, seek order rather than control. Order means people know what’s expected of them and what they expect of others. 

4. Forgetting the Human Factors

A crisis is a crisis precisely because it affects people — but that human factor too often can be eclipsed by numbers and spreadsheets and emergency measures. 

Lead your team by helping them all understand how they can contribute — and recognizing that effort.

Make Time for In-Office Training

Remodeling companies are missing a great opportunity for job training by limiting it to the work site. Yes, there does have to be on-site training to learn a skill, but it might take longer because everything is being taught on the job. 

Here are some ideas to make the most of training your field staff in your office.

Have a Set of Plans

Develop a set of plans that introduce the trainee to terminology and ideas you use in your business. These should be simple plans that introduce the basics. Label everything — headers, jacks, rafter cuts, rebar, footers, etc. Let your employees study and review them, and then have them fill in the blanks on another drawing with the labels left out. They’ll get familiar with terminology and locations, and they’ll need a lot less time from the trainer or a supervisor on the job site — giving everyone more time to get the work done.

Hit the Books

Build a list of books relevant to the remodeling business — and require your new employees to read them. Ask the employee to invest in buying these books — either in print or a Kindle edition for their own education. Let them have some skin in the game of growth. As with the plans, there must be some follow up in the form of testing, or at the least conversations to see that they’re learning while they read.

Don’t forget magazines, either in print or online. Buy the Journal of Light Construction. Get the free ones that are out there. Read them yourself and then make it a game to see if your team members can answer basic questions that you found that apply to your business. You could have them come to a company meeting and share what they’ve learned.

Make it a priority to do some part of your new employee training in the office — build it into the job schedule, and into their job reviews and as the basic competencies they have to master. That can include training on the devices and apps you want them to use in the field. New members of your field team will learn faster and better with a mix of in-office and job-site training.

PowerTips Book Recommendations: July 2019

With the holiday coming at the end of the week, you may take a long weekend — or are already on vacation. It’s a perfect time to grab a good book and get some reading done. We ask our PowerTips Unscripted guests about their favorite business books every week. Here are some of the answers, as well as why these books are important to them — and may become your own favorite.

Tim Faller

R/A Senior Consultant and Master of Production 
Episode 67: Kicking Off Slippage Awareness Month
Episode 50: LIVE from the Extreme Business Makeover
Episode 08: Zero Punch List Production

The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability (Amazon)

Tim likes this book’s take on accountability, and getting employees to take ownership of the larger goals to create ownership of their own performance.

Liz Moisan

Product Innovation Specialist at Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle
Episode 64: What Healthcare Can Teach Remodeling about LEAN

Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High (Amazon)

Liz says she uses what she learned from this book at work and at home, because it focuses on ways to communicate when there are strong emotions, high stress, and opposing opinions.

Mike Foti

President, Innovate Building Solutions, Cleveland
Episode 57: How to Capture Cost-Effective, Exclusive Leads

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … And Others Don’t (Amazon)

From a leadership standpoint, Mike says, this book cites the importance of having leaders who are humble, and who respect others, to the success of your business.

Allison Iontasca

Owner,  F.H. Perry Builder, Hopkinton, MA 
Episode 56: The Secret to Successful Employee Reviews

Becoming a Resonant Leader: Develop Your Emotional Intelligence, Renew Your Relationships, Sustain Your Effectiveness (Amazon)

This is a workbook for developing your personal vision, your personal balance sheet, and how to put learning goals in place to develop it. Take the time and you’ll be amazed at what you learn about yourself, says Allison.

Paul Kowalski

Owner, PK Builders, Charlotte, NC
Episode 58: How LEAN Principles Have Improved My Business

The E-Myth Contractor: Why Most Contractors’ Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It (Amazon)

Paul says this book was a game-changer for him, and got him working less in the business, and more on the business,  

[Podcast] Episode 51: Deploying the Elam Ending in Your Business

We’re getting esoteric today — applying a sports concept to business. Not too long ago, Mark read an article and shared it with Victoria about fixing something that’s broken in basketball — the intentional fouls at the end of the game to stop the clock.

Nick Elam is a Mensa member and basketball superfan, who was frustrated by the stop-and-start slog the end of close games as the team behind tried to get ahead by stopping the clock in the final minutes.

In his Elam Ending, the game clock is turned off at the first whistle with four minutes or fewer remaining. The teams then play to a target score equal to the leading team’s score plus seven points. The first team to meet or exceed the target score wins. It effectively stops the need to intentionally foul.

So what does all this have to do with the remodeling business? Fair question.

You may need to change your rules, you may need to change your strategy. When the rules that make your business work start hindering it, what do you do?

Look at the frustration points and think creatively to figure out whether your rules need to change. Maybe your change order process works perfectly until the final weeks of the job, and then it all goes sideways. Think about changing the rules of the game for those changing circumstances.

Let us know what rules or processes you’ve changed or amended through creative thinking. Let us know in the comments. No harm, no foul. See more about the Elam Ending in Sports Illustrated, and here’s a link to The Basketball Tournament’s wiki and how it has implemented it.

Click Here to Listen to Episode 51 >>
 
 

[Podcast] Episode 45: Using Tools to Find the Best Talent with Rick Bowers

You know all about the labor shortage, you’re living with it every day. But there are tools that can help you find the right person for the right job — and help you keep them in your company.

Remodelers Advantage has been using a personality assessment tool called DISC for years, and we love it. Everyone on our team completes a DISC assessment, as do all of our Roundtables members— who also rely on them in their own businesses.

In this episode, Rick Bowers of TTI Success Insights, the maker of the DISC test, drops by to talk to Victoria and Mark about how and why to use personality assessment tools in your organization.

Rick’s the president of TTI Success Insights, and the keynote speaker at its show TTISCON. Rick has more than 30 years of experience with talent management tools and has trained people to use effective talent management techniques in more than 30 countries on six continents.

For those who don’t know, or could use a refresher, the DISC profile breaks down personality into four buckets, to see which are more pronounced in each individual:

  • Dominance: The take-charge type
  • Influencing: Outgoing and fast-paced
  • Steadiness: Consistent and methodical
  • Compliance: Follows the rules

There are unlimited combinations, because everyone’s an individual, but taken all together, a person’s DISC profile shows why people do what they do, and how best to communicate and motivate them, says Rick. He takes a deep dive into how the DISC and other tools can help managers and employees, including:

  • The 12 driving forces that motivate
  • Letting the job talk
  • Using the right words for each personality
  • Making space for individuality
  • Building an effective team
  • Importance of debriefing process after hiring
  • Why the DISC can’t be used to excuse a bad behavior
  • Why you’ll only go against the assessment once in hiring
  • And a lot more…

In the remodeling business, it’s especially important to hire the right person for the job, and the team — the wrong hire can mess up your company for years. These types of assessment tools can help you make better decisions, and aid you in understanding how to manage and communicate. How do you use your DISC assessments? Let us know in the comments below.

Click Here to Listen to Episode 45 >>

[Podcast] Episode 42: How and When To Hire a General Manager with Aaron Enfinger

As companies experience growth, there are tipping points where changes need to be made. One of those points is when you realize you need additional management for the organization. Many remodelers are considering adding a General Manager, but are unsure how it will work in practice.

The Cleary Company of Columbus, OH, reached this tipping point in the Development Department in the Fall of 2016. The company was changing rapidly, adding staff, and stressing the existing systems in place. Things were getting bogged down. Owner George Cleary promoted Aaron Enfinger from Production Manager to GM to step in the gap. He’s currently wearing both hats while searching for his successor as PM.

In this episode, Aaron talks to Victoria and Mark about his experiences in taking over his new role and what it’s meant for the company. While Aaron oversees the operations, George has more time for business development and long-term planning.

The decision to add an overlay of management was caused by three factors, says Aaron. The staff was stressed by the workload, they were having trouble getting projects through the different phases of the job, and steps were being skipped in previously reliable systems because of the rush to get jobs to production. He talks about what his job entails, and some of the challenges, including:

  • Keeping the owner in the mix
  • How to not overload a GM
  • Managing people outside of your own job experience, like designers or marketers
  • Creating new positions to help streamline processes
  • Why to hire from within (if you can)
  • Working with the owner (or CEO)
  • The benefits of a walking meeting
  • Small picture vs. big picture thinking
  • And more…

As promised in the podcast, here’s the link to Aaron’s appearance on The Tim Faller Show, where he outlined his approach to creating a master schedule to control the flow of jobs through the pipeline.

Click Here to Listen to Episode 42 >>

 

Extreme Makeover: Business Edition

As Mark and Victoria mentioned in this episode, the Extreme Makeover: Business Edition, Jan. 29-30, 2019, is filling up fast — and Super Early Bird Pricing ends this Friday, November 30th.
Click Here for More Information & Registration