Unprecedented Times

March 18th, 2020

Deep sadness has been replaced by boredom, anxiety and hope.

Thursday night, flying from Newark to Raleigh it hit me. A deep sadness. I was supposed to fly to Savannah to watch my daughter play golf but she had just been told her season was over. On the plane – watching day one of The Players tournament – then cancelled. Then the Masters. The NCAA and NBA had already pulled the plug.

Sports matter to me. Their seasonal cadence helps us along but they were abruptly gone and I had a child wondering what next? I had no answers. So, yes, I was sad. Sad that it happened, sad that it had to happen. Perhaps you were too.

I am no longer sad. I am bored, hopeful, anxious. Expectant of a lockdown and hopeful it does the job. But no one really knows what this looks like in weeks and months and that brings anxiety.

Happy to reschedule work but will demand still be there in fourth quarter? Or will we be mired in an economic slowdown?

We don’t know. Keep calm and carry on is all I know. I have time. Time to do some projects I had been putting off. To exercise (until they close the gym). To golf. To be with family. To read.

Time, our most precious commodity is now abundant and few of us know what do?

What will you do with this abundance of time? I am making a list. It’s a start.

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Integrity Is Dead

March 3rd, 2020

Integrity is dead. Accountability just joined it. Just ask Major League Baseball.

In case you missed it, there is clear evidence the Houston Astros cheated in winning the World Series in 2017. This also casts doubt on their 2019 title run but let’s stick to the facts.

Two executives were suspended for a year. The players got a free pass. And the Commissioner, the man charged with enforcing the rules, called the World Series trophy “just a “piece of metal” and MLB didn’t need to get it back from the Astros for their tainted 2017 World Series title.”

He diminished the entire point of playing. Imagine the NHL calling the Stanley Cup just a piece of metal, or the NFL calling the Lombardi Trophy anything less.

Pete Rose got banned from baseball for LIFE because he bet on the game. No players got banned for CHEATING this time.

The front page gives us plenty of examples of people behaving badly which is why leaders living their values and being a role model in a company is so important.

Our People In Construction Report confirms this. Over 90% of respondents agreed ignoring core values will get you in trouble. IF you have values, protect them. If not, anything goes.

People do respect honesty, they just don’t see it as much. Let them see it from you.

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Patience Is A Virtue

February 21st, 2020

An update on the rescue dog…he isn’t working out.

At orientation we explained how we do things in the house and that some things are to be done OUTSIDE the house. But there have been a number of accidents. We gave him a verbal warning. The furniture is tattered as he is finding his teeth go well with our couch. We gave him a written verbal warning but he didn’t seem to understand. He still doesn’t like the leash. Picture shows him with leash on but retreating to his crate – which he goes into with no issues – and his toys barricaded in front of him so we can’t get to him. That was a write up for insubordination!

We told him what to do but he isn’t doing it. We wrote him up several times. I guess we need to fire him.

At this point you chuckle as you remark they can’t fire the dog.

No, but we could tie him to a tree and abandon him like what happened to him at age 8 weeks. He has a long way to go but he is getting better – slowly – and we have no intention of letting him go.

Of course, if he was an employee we would have walked him to the door already. But he IS getting better – soooo – maybe we continue to demonstrate patience and love and he will continue to develop just like an employee might.

We treat employees worse than we treat dogs sometimes.

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Are you staying the course or looking for the door?

February 11th, 2020

We have a new puppy. A rescue. The first two months of his life were pretty rough. He doesn’t like the car, doesn’t like the look of a leash and is inconsistent in his behavior. One minute the perfect pup, the next minute NOT.

He is what he is and we are working through some things, learning new ways to own/train a dog. We aren’t giving up on him. He is a good dog – most of the time – and brings joy to the house (except when he has an accident at a random time).

I tell you this because you have employees who have had bad experiences. Either at Momma’s house growing up or from some other boss who was a jerk. But rather than work hard to help them along, we often push them out the door. Rather than show them some love, we show them progressive discipline (which needs to happen at some point) which really means we are progressing them towards the door.

I had a coaching client who pushed back to any male boss he thought aggressive. Turns out his father was a bully, this was his correction to all that. With awareness he now gets along with all.

I am confident our new pup will be a well-behaved dog. There will be some setbacks. We will stay the course.

With labor availability a real issue, are you staying the course with new employees or looking for the door?



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I Got More to Give

November 19th, 2019

In a recent survey of nearly 500 construction professionals, ONE-THIRD of all respondents and 43% of office operations reported “they had more to give.” They can actually do more. They are not over-worked; they are under-challenged and that is a failure of their boss. This data is totally consistent with other research outside construction. Rather than blaming the employee for poor performance perhaps you should talk to their supervisor first, ask a bunch of questions and evaluate them. Not every employee needs to be fired and we have all seen a crew member excel when moved to a new crew. Same person. If you want to improve retention, which will improve recruiting, it is time to improve leadership.

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People Are Anxious and Afraid

November 19th, 2019

Personality assessments are an important part of my business – we do a bunch. In a part of one of them, we discern how people feel about their future growth and development. It isn’t as simple as optimism. It is a deeper sense of security or anxiety. Over the past few years we have seen the anxiety factor go up. Our supplier who manages the software confirms this is a universal and major change. People are anxious about the future and it shows up in their assessments. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that — despite Americans’ overall satisfaction with the state of the U.S. economy and their own personal finances — a majority say they are angry at the nation’s political and financial establishment, anxious about its economic future, and pessimistic about the country they’re leaving for the next generation. Bringing our research together with the NBC study – we see people are anxious about not only the next generation, but also their own future. AND THIS MATTERS TO YOU BECAUSE, as a leader, your people are looking for stability, trustworthy leadership, etc. When you are consistent and provide a sense of normalcy for your team your people are less anxious. Retention goes up. Performance goes up. Your life gets easier. Have a plan, live the values.

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Learn From Others

November 19th, 2019

I hope you can learn from two different men I spoke with after my speech at a national construction convention last week. My talk was about servant leadership/taking care of people as a core principle of leadership today. Both were having a hard time applying it to themselves. One was a co-owner and remarked he didn’t even LIKE the business anymore. The other a very senior leader, “I just don’t have patience for all the people BS!” I asked both about free time, hobbies, support mechanisms. Both confessed those things had eroded/faded over time. In my executive coaching this is not an unusual theme. Last week I told a client to get his boat on the water for 2 hours and call me after. He had not taken it out all year! I can relate, my wife used to say, “you don’t take days off, you take hours off.” Most of my readers are men. Men suck at establishing new relationships as they age AND suck at raising their hand when they need a hand. In other words, I am writing this for you if you if you are reading it. (Not to say women should ignore the message). Our research confirms that 50% of field leaders DO NOT have a close friend at work. Who/what motivates the motivator?

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When was the last time you were praised?

November 19th, 2019

How frequently do you receive recognition from your manager? (Of course, the question behind that is how often do you give positive feedback?) Daily? Weekly? Monthly? What is recognition? I was rereading the results from our big People In Construction Report as I prepare to do it for a national construction trade association and the answers struck me. Twenty seven percent of nearly 500 respondents for the report answered, “What is recognition?” OUCH. Yet, research published in Harvard Business Review confirms that top performing teams give each other more than FIVE positive comments for every one criticism! Six percent said daily, 27% weekly, 38% monthly. C’mon folks. Catch your people doing something right. A paycheck is not positive feedback. Not good when people say, “Well, I haven’t gotten my butt chewed lately so I must be doing OK.” We laugh at that, but we know that is how it really is. Positive feedback costs you nothing and gains you a lot.

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10,000 Birthday Cards

November 19th, 2019

You SAY you don’t have TIME to do your day job, how can you possibly find the time to do the small things that supposedly matter to people????? Well, as long as you fail to see value in such things you will not find the time. But this CEO writes nearly 10,000 – TEN FREAKING THOUSAND – birthday cards a year (for you detail folks that is 27 per day). This sends a powerful message that people matter. I knew a boss who used to do this for years and then one year he stopped, He didn’t think it mattered. Within days people started asking if there was something wrong with him. Why had he stopped? They wanted their birthday card! Yellen states “When leaders forget about the human element, they’re holding back their companies and limiting the success of others,” he said. “Focusing only on profit and forgetting that a company’s most important asset is its people will ultimately stifle a company’s growth.” Sadly, my experience confirms that most managers simply don’t “walk their talk” that people are the most important asset. Do you? Send ten birthday cards to get started.

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“No” Means I Don’t Respect You

November 19th, 2019

Talking with a company President today. I have known him for almost 20 years. Long term, and high performing grading superintendent just quit. President goes to talk to him…WTF?…turns out the superintendent wanted to get some out-of-cycle raises for some employees (who totally deserve it) to get them up to par with some newer hires. (Not an unusual thing.) The division manager, in an email, said “No.” That was it. End of sentence – No. The President took the time to explain that out-of-cycle raises can be a challenge, but they could have figured something out. BUT the division manager didn’t explain, he just said NO (FU)… The superintendent told the President the explanation and “let’s figure it out” was an acceptable answer but he never got to that because the answer was NO (I don’t respect you). The answer was NO (I don’t care what you think). The answer was NO (I don’t have time for you). The reply to the answer was “I am out of here.” C’mon, this isn’t that hard. But this happens every day. It’s called leadership, compassion, fairness, not being a jerk. You get the idea. Gallup just announced that fewer than two-thirds of respondents in a recent survey said their pay has increased in the last five years…. Lead them well, pay them fairly. Don’t be a jerk.

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"Wally’s presentation was fast paced, engaging and right on target. His mix of personal adversity and success was inspiring to our management team. I’ve received countless accolades from my staff regarding Wally’s presentation. More importantly, Wally was able to incorporate our Corporate Values and Culture into his presentation. I would highly recommend Wally Adamchik and look forward to inviting him back for future presentations."

Dennis J. Braun
Total Comfort of Wisconsin, Inc.