A Cautionary Tale

May 13th, 2020

A cautionary tale for you.

Can you open the spigot?

Entering the last downturn I was working with one of the ENR Top 50 Subcontractors. As projects were cancelled and delayed we talked budgets and the implications for leader development.

The comment from the VP of People has stuck with me.

He said, “After 9/11 we shut everything down to save cash. But when the recovery came, we needed people, we opened the spigot and nothing came out. We are not going to let that happen to us again.”

We kept training and they were well positioned to take advantage of opportunities in the recovery. I talked to that same VP the other day and the thought-process is the same. “We know we will work off some backlog in the next few months, and things may be a bit slower later this year/early next year. That is when we will do even more training. We know a recovery will come and we will be ready for it.”

My question to you, my loyal reader, will you be ready too or will you be eclipsed by firms who are?

Feel free to share this one!

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Construction Leadership from A – Z: The Next 26 Words

May 7th, 2020

I am researching a new book project and hope you will contribute.

Construction Leadership from A to Z – the next 26 words. Head to the survey here and take a few minutes to choose your 26 words for the next edition of Construction Leadership from A to Z.

I will leave this survey open for the month of May. Share this post to gain more responses. Better data equals better research. THANKS in advance. This is not as easy as it sounds because the first 26 are already taken. Take a look and let me know.

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The Power Is In The Planning

April 28th, 2020

Germany just cancelled Oktoberfest. What will you have to cancel? Have you thought that far? Probably not because you are trying to make it through the day/week.

It is tough to look to the future but there really is something you should be doing now to be recovery ready.

Scenario Planning – there are 4 options to consider.
Best Case, Worst Case, middle option, and finally the roller-coaster.

From a labor and productivity perspective have you considered an A Shift/B Shift to reduce cross contamination while increasing production? A week in the office, then a week at home?

What about opt out scenarios for people not comfortable coming to work for health reasons? Will you make them take personal time? (Would you do that if they complained about fall protection?)

This will all be DIFFERENT, this is called change and 73% of construction executives agreed that change initiatives often fall short.

Don’t let that be you. And remember the power is in the planning not the plan because the plan will change but you will have thought it through.

Put together several cross-functional teams and have them answer the “What If..” questions.

Call me. Happy to brainstorm with you. I have time.

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DiSC Profile Communication

April 28th, 2020

Rather than create a generic work from home webinar (how many of those hit your inbox every freaking day???) I created a brief instructional video for communicating remotely based on your DISC Profile. Check it out here.

If you have taken DISC this will be worth your time. Whether you are working from home or communicating with those who are working from home you will gain usable tips.

If is free, there is no catch.. I am not demanding your email so you can see it. Not how I roll. I invite you to share it with others you know who might benefit from it.

Right about now, after a month in captivity, we revert to our old selves and it may not be our best selves. Better communication is a must right now and this video will help.

Stay Inspired…

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Virtual, Interactive, On-Demand Leadership Training

April 28th, 2020

Most of you are still working hard on construction sites across the country. BUT some areas are shutdown and have a bit of time on their hands. Since some people have asked about this….

Yes, I do have an online offering. Have had it for years and it is really good. Not some boring recorded webinar being repackaged just to make some money. This is designed for online and it delivers.

Consider some virtual, interactive, on-demand leadership training. Access from phone, iPad or computer. Quizzes and accountability built-in. Link to example here.

Heck, we get enough people to do it I can do a live virtual session to recap it and take it to the next level.

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Virtual Job Walks

April 13th, 2020

Virtual Job walks!!

Just talked to a VP of a very large electrical contractor and he walked a job today for 90 minutes – virtually – took notes along the way and then had a face time debrief with the superintendent who carried the phone.

They are using a GoPro and are recording a different job tomorrow.

Recognizing the field office chasm needs to be bridged this is a great way to do that in these crazy times.

PEs and PMs should get to the field but these days this is harder than ever. The virtual site visit is a good way to connect, at least, and inspect, if need be.

Give it a try.

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Communication Is More Important Than Ever

April 13th, 2020

The field office divide is on its way to becoming an abyss.

There already was a chasm, as noted in this picture showing some results from the People In Construction Report we did last year.

Office folks are working from home….Field folks are working and facing COVID etc.

I challenged leaders on both sides to work to bridge the chasm. That challenge remains and it just got more important. Communication is key. Regular, honest, real communication. Job site visits also are important. Six feet away is better than 6 miles which may as well be 600.

If you say WE are going to get through this you have to make the field feel like part of the WE and the data says it wasn’t happening.




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Leadership & Self-Awareness

April 13th, 2020

In life, we experience grief. For many of you, this will be one of those times. Stages of grief:

Shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing, acceptance.

Where are you now? These don’t always happen in order. But I am sure many of us are shocked by the absolute devastation to the economy. The TSA said 90% LESS people are flying today compared to last year. This is so real and we don’t have any real idea what is coming next. I am sure some of you are depressed at the prospect of a layoff.

Great leaders have a high degree of self-awareness. Do you know what you are feeling today? Most of my clients are “get it done” folks so they are working their way through the troubles but anger or depression might be just below the surface. I don’t know. You do – IF – if you stop to look inside yourself.

My clients are busy, I am trying to give space. Helping where I can and letting them know we are here to support.

Primary function today was simply talking to execs who need a place to vent and be vulnerable. Let me know if you want to vent or brainstorm. I can only play so much golf and you can only work so hard.

By the way, I am finally kicking around on YouTube. Some daily thoughts and tips. FireStarter Speaking is the channel, check it out here.

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Bad Companies, Good Companies, Great Companies

March 31st, 2020

“Bad companies are destroyed by crisis, Good companies survive them, Great companies are improved by them.” – Andy Grove (Chairman of the Board for Intel)

What are you doing to become a Great leader in a Great company? What are you doing to help others become Great?

Unprecedented times demand an unprecedented response. If you are aren’t doing much different these days you might be on your way to destruction.

It need not be that way.

Stay inspired.

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Social Distancing vs Physical Distancing – There IS a Difference

March 26th, 2020

Social Distancing is WRONG. Social Connecting is RIGHT. Physical distance is right.

As we all retreat to our homes and self-quarantine we need to CONNECT more.

And do it visually. Facetime, Zoom, etc etc.

If you are team leader, now leading a remote team, conduct a 10-15 minute call each AM to ask what they are working on, top 3-5 priorities for the day. How did yesterday go? How are you? …CONNECT.

You cannot lead your team by text and email. Use the technology to connect. Text and email help you manage tasks. Video helps you maintain connections.

Stay safe and wash your hands.

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"I have received so many very positive comments about your workshop. Most importantly, the evaluations and the one-on-one feedback indicate that the participants picked up information and tips that they plan to apply both in their business and in their chapters."

E. Colette Nelson, Executive Vice President, American Subcontractors Association