High-Performing Contractor - NEWSLETTER January 2007
Keith Harrison, the global product supply office for Proctor & Gamble Co. (P&G), list his thoughts on leadership: “In today’s global, rapidly changing world, one of the most important qualities of leadership is the ability to define and organize around moments of truth in your business. In our business there are two moments of truth – when the customer stands at the store shelf and chooses our brand and when she uses our product at home and decides whether it lives up to he expectations.” He outlines the key actions leaders need to do to organize around these moments of truth:
· Start with a clear vision
· Build the right infrastructure to add value and drive moments of truth
· Understand what must remain constant among change. To P&G it is their purpose, values and principles that is constant.
· Get the organization on board by creating a culture where employees put themselves in the consumers’ shoes
· Put their consumers’ interest at the forefront
[Source” IndustryWeek, Dec. 16, 2005]
Construction is not manufacturing, but the same leadership requirements exist. What are the critical moments of truth for your operation? How do your employees know what to do to ensure these moments of truth are positive experiences for your customers? Do your employees know your vision for your company? (Do you have one?) Are the customer’s interests first in your company or are many activities and requirements centered around your internal needs rather than the customers? Do all of your employees know your company’s values? How do they know? How do you know they live those values as they interact with the customers every day? This new year, as the leader in your company, consider what you can do better to truly lead. Work more on the business rather than in the business. Discussing and communicating answers with you management team to the above questions is a good start. Deploying your answers throughout the company is a great start.
**************** Employee Focus
Keep your Best Employees
Perhaps the biggest challenge for most contractors today is not how to get work but how to get and keep good workers so you can take on more jobs. There is a shortage of skilled employees in the construction world today and it is forecasted to only get worse. Kenny Chapman of Peterson Plumbing & Heating shares some interesting ideas about keeping employees. He suggest that we need to 're-recruit" our best people. We need to focus on keeping on our best workers rather than the worst. Typically employers spend about 80% of their time dealing with the 20% of the workers that are the poorest ones. Chapman suggests paying much more attention to those employees that do it right than to those that can't or won't. He stated, "People don't quit companies, they quit people." Today's good workers want to be involved in the company. One way that Chapman suggests to do that is to share financial information with the workers. Source - Contracting Magazine October 2005.
I suggest sharing more than financial information. You should share all key performance measures, with your employees including safety, productivity, days sales collections, and customer satisfaction.) Other ways I suggest to involve your employees in the company are:
· Ask for their ideas to improve the company. Listen and act on these ideas.
· Regularly discuss your vision and mission with your employees. They need to see that you have one and where you are taking the company. (Do you have one?)
· Train your employees. It's an investment in them and sends a message that they are important
· Hold regular all-hands meetings to communicate progress and plans
· For new employees and maybe all employees provide a glossary of terms you commonly use so they can know the work language.
Other ways to keep employees are suggested by Mark Matteso. He describes a contractor who "has a line of people waiting to come to work for him." Why? Here are the reasons Mark observed in this contractor:
· The first thing out of his mouth when he sees one of his employees is, "How is your family?" He genuinely cares about people.
· He pays a little more than his competition.
· He passionately believes in training of all kinds.
· "Mi Casa, Su Casa.” Translated from Spanish, "My house is your house." If one of his guys needs to borrow anything the company has, like a flatbed truck over the weekend, it's theirs to use. He trusts them.
· He promotes from within whenever possible.
· He has a passion for Service and he takes unhappy customers personally.
· He surrounds himself with good people, trains them like mad and then gets out of their way.
· He loves what he does.
· He is not afraid to say: "I don't know. Let's go find out."
· Finally, he never stops growing, and he is flexible. He knows what he wants
· and is willing to change, grow and adapt.
Source: Mark Matteso of the Pinnacle Service Group Contractor Magazine e-newsletter 11/30/05
**************** Process Management – A meeting to manage commitments!
Many projects start each day with the Daily Coordination Meeting. Typically this meeting is where the work tasks are to be coordinated between the crews. Often, it is a meeting of people hedging on their commitments. Hal Macomber suggests a different approach to this meeting…
“Often, the project participants are taking care of basic coordination — doing last-minute planning — rather than managing their commitments. The name of the meeting Daily Coordination is part of the problem, but only part. Coordinating one group with another is a small part of the daily meeting. The most important part is taking the time to let each other know that you and your group have done what you said you would do for that day. This builds trust and it creates a basis for the performing groups to take the hedging out of their promising. When one group doesn't have confidence in what another group will do for them, then we understandably get hedging. Hedging leads to work areas being ready but no one working. The aim is for the project work to flow unimpeded from one performing group to another.
Even the most reliable performers have to deal with the unexpected.
A second key aspect of a meeting for managing commitments is to make timely declarations of completion. When we tell someone, "We'll be finishing the following work tomorrow just as we promised to do," that allows others to mobilize in anticipation of your completion rather than waiting to hear that you've finished before mobilizing your own staff. One project team member called this "just good courtesy". My Nana would agree.
Even the most reliable performers have to deal with the unexpected. The daily meeting is the opportunity for a performer to forewarn that the promise is in jeopardy and to make a new promise. Giving people a heads-up that we will not complete as originally promised and then offering a new promise allows others to re-plan their work avoiding or minimizing the negative impacts of your non-performance. Re-commitments build confidence among the team members. Repeated re-promising is certainly grounds for lack of confidence. However, hearing in advance that something won't happen gives others the chance to re-plan, make contingencies, and avoid the wastes associated with an upset.
There is one other big opportunity in conducting a meeting for managing commitments. Often, a performer or group will find it necessary to jump through hoops to keep their commitment. It is a shame if completing that work would fail to advance work on the project. And sometimes that is the case. The team should use the meeting to explore what are the impacts of renegotiating a promise. Staying late missing your child's school event to finish something that is not needed at the moment is a shame. No one wants to do that or see others do it.
The Daily Coordination Meeting is dead; long live the Daily Coordination Meeting. In its place conduct a meeting that gives performers the opportunity to take care of others on the team…have a meeting for managing commitments.
Source: Hal Macomber, www.reformingprojectmanagement.com April 3rd, 2005
**************** Fix the Fixer?
In a recent trade magazine a brief article suggested that when dealing with Service callbacks we should not only fix the customer’s problem but to also ‘fix the fixer’ by sending the original service technician back out to fix the problem. With some special exceptions this is a great way to help teach technicians about their mistakes. But the article stopped at that solution. I suggest taking a more complete approach. It is not sufficient in today’s world to train one technician at a time about mistakes and callbacks. We don’t have the time or luxury to allow every technician to make all the same mistakes so he or she can learn. Besides having the original technician do the callback, I suggest the following to better learn from the example:
· Have that technician explain to all technicians the problem for the callback, how he resolved it and how he could have prevented it from happening. This is not to be done in the spirit of embarrassing the technician but for everyone’s learning. After the explanation allow other technicians to share what they have done or learned to prevent this problem.
· Once a year, look at all callbacks that have occurred to see if any patterns or trends of problems exist. Look for the most common causes of callbacks. Determine ways to prevent these callbacks and define the prevention methods in detail. Determine what checks should be put in place when doing the work to make sure the prevention actions have been taken. Design training around these preventions and deploy the training to all technicians in special or regular team meetings. The next year (or a few months later) look again at the major causes of callbacks to see if the solutions have worked.
We can fix the fixer and we can train others to prevent the need for a fix.
**************** Learning Opportunities
These training seminars are presented by Dennis Sowards:
- Jan. 26, 2006 - Problem Solving Lite - Sponsor: Phoenix, AZ for PIPE and 469 JATC
- Feb. 23, 2006 - Creating Customer Loyalty by Design - Sponsor: Phoenix, AZ for PIPE and 469 JATC
- March 23, 2006 - Continuous Improvement – Breakfast of Champions -Sponsor: Phoenix, AZ for PIPE and 469 JATC
- March 30, 2006 - Lean Applied to Construction at the Partners in Progress Conference, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, NV
- April 20, 2006 - Job Planning that Works (Lean Construction tools) - Sponsor: Phoenix, AZ for PIPE and 469 JATC
- May 18, 2006 -use’s for Lean Construction - Sponsor: Phoenix, AZ for PIPE and 469 JATC
If you are interested in attending any of these workshops, please contact the sponsor. If you are interested in one of these workshops for your chapter or company, contact Dennis Sowards.
**************** Thought for the day
"The successful person does things that most anyone can and does do. The difference is, the successful person does it consistently.” Michael Angier
This e-newsletter is dedicated to supporting the SMACNA High-Performing Contractor Assessment Model and High-Performing Contractors. Written by Dennis Sowards