Wow! You might think that’s pretty unfair of me to say, “If nothing is getting done at your company, you’re responsible.”
Don’t look around for someone you can point the finger at because it’s you!
I say this because I used to blame people at my company for what didn’t get done or for what got done poorly. And I was all too happy to point the finger of blame. Yes, I’m a New Yorker, but don’t waste time figuring out which finger.
My flawed approach changed when I was lucky enough to get accepted into a great contractor affinity group. The reason it all changed is I was exposed to very successful contractors who were willing to share the lessons they had learned along the way to becoming successful. All I had to do was ask a question of them and shut up long enough to listen to the wisdom they were sharing.
Again, as a New Yorker, this wasn’t easy, but I wasn’t going to blow this golden opportunity. I bit my lip so I could shut up long enough to listen to the help they were giving me.
And what came back time and again from pretty much all of my whining about my staff and what they either didn’t get done or did poorly was that it was my fault, not theirs. This was tough medicine but I was ready to take it.
What they helped me see was it was my fault because I never was clear about what I wanted them to be doing, let alone helping them to get things done. It was my fault because I was always in too big of a rush. I just expected them to be mind readers. That again was my fault because, as they identified the flaw, I was trying to shortcut the communication process instead of using the power of good communication. Up to this point, I just wasn’t happy with things, and neither were members of my team. Looking back… who can blame them?
Finally, those wise contractors in the group let me know in no uncertain terms that I had to change my ways and invest the time with my team. I had to define exactly what I wanted them to do and provide them with clear mileposts for getting things accomplished and accomplished on time.
I got smarter over time. I know it’s thanks to all the great mentors that came into my life. Many smart contractors have told me, “You can make mistakes. We all do. But if you want to minimize that, start learning from great mentors.” I finally saw the light. Now, I’m pleased to have been a mentor to others.
Here’s more of what I learned along the way that I’ve been happy to share with other contractors:
- Nobody on your staff is going to rise up if all you have for them is low expectations. Stop thinking about them in a negative way. Stop talking about them in a negative way. While they’re at your company, it’s your obligation to give them a great reputation to live up to. And then it’s up to you to get them good or help them move on in a positive way.
- If you don’t follow through on your own projects and get things done and done on time, your staff will follow your example. It’s the burden all leaders face. It’s not so much what you say as it is what you do. It boils down to the need to lead by example.
- You can’t be all over the map with the flavor of the month program or latest craze that is sweeping the contracting community when it comes to running your company. You have to have a PLAN, and then you have to work the plan!
- That plan needs to have your goal or goals, and it needs to be in writing. It’s only as good as your commitment to getting things done and implemented at your company. The path to accomplish this is by having:
- A Master Project list that contains all your projects and habits you want and need to reach your goal as defined in your business plan in the next 3 to 5 years.
- A Top 30 list which is that list boiled down to what you need to do in the next 12 months, and…
- A Top 5 list which are the key projects and habits you need to get things done by working on them as a group every week.
- You need well-run meetings that are going on throughout each and every week so the team can get on the same page and get things done. These are NOT meetings to eat donuts and to drink coffee.
- Schedule time blocks on your calendar and insist that others do the same. Time is either your enemy or your friend. Blocking out time is how you make it your friend.
- Keep score and reward the right stuff. Have programs that reward measured results that move your company towards your goal. A great reward program is paying people who make sale goals or get jobs done on time and on budget. But it’s your job to make sure you are on sound financial ground so you know if you’re rewarding employees with money from your pocket or with money they create.
Follow this path and enjoy the change for the better!