How You Can Escape Mediocrity and Achieve High Performance in Your Construction Company
Wherever you are in the world today, I just want to welcome you to this webinar. Today, we’re going to talk about how to escape mediocrity and achieve high performance in your construction company.
You’ve made a good choice to join us in this webinar. I’d like you to consider this as the oasis for yourself. I know we have construction company owners and executives here on the line, and one of the most important things for you to do as a business owner or as a senior leader of a construction company is to take time to work on yourself and on your business.
So I’d like to encourage you in the next 60 minutes or so, to turn off your phone, to put away whatever might be distracting you. You’re going to learn that one of the keys to high performance is concentration. So put away those things that would keep you from paying full attention because there’s tons of great content in this webinar that’s going to help you to perform at a higher level.
The Three Essential Aspects To High Performance
And so to dive right in, we’re going to be covering three things today. Each one of these is essential to high performance.
The first thing we’re going to talk about is the mindset of high performers. The second thing is the action of high performers. And when we talk about the action of high performers, we’re going to dive into a specific framework that you can learn in identifying the most important outcomes that you need to achieve and the actions that lead to those outcomes and how you can improve your performance of those actions.
This framework alone, if you take it and teach it to people in your organization, can have a massive impact on your performance and on their performance as well.
And then the last thing we’re going to talk about is the daily discipline of high performers. In that section of the webinar, I’m going to teach you a very simple process for structuring your day consistently to achieve high performance. High performance is not an accident, it requires discipline and it requires discipline on a daily basis.
What Is High Performance?
So, as we dive into the content of the webinar, I just like to open up a question to the audience. You can just chat your answers into the box here.
“What is high performance? When you think of high performance what springs to mind?”
A couple of answers coming in…“High performance is being profitable.” Okay, yes, in a construction company, profit is definitely the goal.
“Excellence.” Yes, excellence is another word that is sort of analogous or synonymous with high performance. Excellence is something that’s difficult to achieve on a consistent basis.
“Hard work.” Definitely. If you’re going to be successful in any endeavor in life, particularly in construction, it takes a great deal of hard work.
So for the purpose of this webinar, I would like you to think of the – oh, we got one more here. “Efficient and effective.” Yeah, that’s very interesting.
Now, check out this definition of high performance. I’d like you to keep this in mind as we go through the process here today. High performance is concentrating on the few tasks that are done with excellence will really make a difference in the results of your job and in the performance of your company.
Now, just take a moment and think about that definition. I think there are a number of words here that stand out that are extremely important. The first one is concentrating.
Concentration: The Key To Escaping A Mediocre Performance
We live in a distracted age. Again, I just encourage you, if you’re currently distracted by something else other than this webinar, give yourself permission to concentrate for just a little bit of time. It can make a huge difference in how you receive this information and how you can then use and apply it.
So, concentrating on the few tasks that is done with excellence. Excellence simply means to go above and beyond what is normal—and that’s what this webinar is all about. It’s about escaping mediocrity or what most people do. It’s also concentrating on the few tasks that if done with excellence will really make a difference in the results of your job and in the performance of your company.
If you reflect upon your impact as a leader, you will understand that there are only a few tasks that you need to do that have your biggest impact. And if you can identify those tasks and consistently get better at performing those tasks, then that will help you to achieve the excellence and the high performance you are looking for.
So we’re going to use this definition as sort of the fundamental foundation for what we’re going to be discussing here during the webinar.
Here’s A Brief Background On What I Do
Just to give you a little bit more about me: I know there’s some of you here on the line who aren’t too familiar with me, but I’ve been helping construction industry companies build people and profit since 2004. And in that time there’s three things that I focus on:
I’m strengthening your leadership, building your team and then growing your business. So those are the three things I focus on through executive coaching, leadership development and then strategic planning.
Here are some of the companies that I work with. There are subcontractors, there are general contractors. They range in revenue from about $10 million to a billion dollars. So I have experience working with a variety of different construction companies in different fields and different construction disciplines.
What Is The Biggest Challenge You Are Facing Right Now?
Leading your construction organization, what is the biggest challenge that you face at the moment? Please chat that into the box if you wouldn’t mind.
This came in really quick: “finding qualified help”. Absolutely. I tell you, I think over the next five to seven years, things are going to begin to change a little bit because I know, working with various associations, that the high schools are now beginning to emphasize vocational work and they’re beginning to really see that construction, in a variety of different ways, is an excellent career choice.
So, finding qualified help may loosen up over time but definitely not in the next few years. Perhaps in the next three to five years.
What else are some of the challenges that you’re facing?
“Managing employees.” “Staffing. Skill trades.”
I tell you, there’s lots of challenging. Choosing the right projects is something that many of my clients are consistently looking at. You got to be able to – again it’s not a question of how much work you can get, the work’s out there at the moment, but it’s getting the right work with the right clients in the right locations.
What else? What other challenges are you facing?
“Maintaining quality and safety.” Absolutely. So again, there’s a link there between the quality of the workforce and obviously, the quality of the work and the safety of the work that’s being produced. If you’re not able to produce work safely and if you’re not able to produce it with high quality, obviously, that has an impact not only on your reputation but on your bottom line.
The Seven Attributes Of High Performing Construction Companies
So with those things in mind, I just want to share these seven attributes of high performing construction companies. Again, I’ve been working with construction companies for over 15 years and these are seven things that I’ve seen over the years that are consistent in high performing construction companies.
1. They pursue niche work at which they’re excellent and profitable.
So ask yourself this question: do you know what your niche is? Have you clearly identified the right jobs, the right clients in the right geographic locations?
2. They deal with clients they know well.
Ultimately, construction is a relationship business and the quality of the relationships that you have will have a direct impact upon your bottomline.
3. They work with project partners they trust.
Whether you’re a subcontractor or a general contractor, trust is essential because stuff happens in construction every single day. So you have to have strong relationships not only with your clients, but also with your project partners.
4. They maintain high quality efficient construction work.
We all understand that the quality of labor perhaps is a little tight at the moment, but high performing construction companies always are training, always are doing their best to upgrade their existing talent pool.
5. They emphasize and demand safety.
That means they’re disciplined on a daily basis to have those tailgate meetings and they’re on their foremen making sure that their foremen are holding their guys to high standards.
6. They insist on timely payment for all dollars earned.
This is so essential. If your clients are using you to bankroll other projects, in other words if they’re not paying you the money that you’ve made, perhaps you need to find new clients or get more aggressive in getting what is yours.
7. They have a financial cushion to whether the bad times.
So, hopefully things are pretty good for you at the moment. The issue isn’t the number of projects that you’re able to get or hopefully the topline revenue that you’re able to generate, but are you able to run your business so efficiently that you’re generating cash for future opportunities or for future challenges that come your way.
Hopefully, you’re building a financial cushion to weather those bad times. So those are the seven attributes of high performing construction companies.
How Do High Performers Think?
And again, like I said, there are three things we’re going to take a look at here today: the mindset of high performers, the action of high performers and the daily discipline of high performers. So let’s just kick it off right away. We’re going to dive in now to the mindset of high performers.
Don’t Concern Yourself With Things You Can’t Control
Now, if you think about life, there are things which you have no control over. It’s very important for you to identify those things—things like the weather. And I’m going to dive into a few more things than just the weather, but just for example we have no control over the weather. But the weather has a massive impact upon your company. Construction companies are affected every year by weather, but it’s something they can’t control.
You must not concern yourself with these things in terms of wasting emotional energy and getting yourself all bound up in the things you have no control over. High performers understand that there are things they have no control over and they don’t focus on those things.
There Are Things You Have Some Control Of, But You Can Only Control Yourself
But they also know that there are things that they have complete control over. And at the end of the day, what we have complete control over is ourselves. Life is full of difficulty. Business is full of difficulty and challenge. The one thing that you can control is your attitude and your actions. And you should definitely concern yourself with those things.
And then there are things that we have some control over. When I think of things that we have some control over, I think specifically of the relationships that we have with other people and the outcome that we receive from the actions that we take on a daily basis.
And for those things we cannot control the ultimate outcome but we can definitely focus on the actions that lead to the outcomes. High performers understand that they don’t have complete control over everything but the things that they have some control over they identify the actions they can take that lead to the outcomes they’re seeking and they’re always striving to get better at executing those actions.
This is fundamentally important to high performers.
How To Apply The High Performer Mindset In The Construction Company Business Model
So let’s think about the construction company business model and this again will help you with your mindset. Think about the things that you’re anxious about at the moment that are taking up space in your head. You’ve got to understand the things that you have no control over, complete control over and some control over. This is the mindset of high performers.
So let’s take a look at this. Every construction company generates top line revenue. And then you have costs that are associated with executing the projects that you get that reflect your top
line revenue. The gap between your revenue and your costs is where you find your profit level.
This is very important. So you generate revenue, you incur costs and the difference between your revenue and your cost is your profit. I know this may be 101 for some of you here on the line, but it’s fundamental and important that we remind ourselves.
Now this groovy little squiggly line right here in the middle is meant to represent a spring. The construction game is to increase the gap between your revenue and your cost because if you can do that then you increase your profit. And if you increase your profit, you increase the likelihood that you’re going to be around tomorrow and the next day and the next year and you’re going to increase your likelihood of generating the kind of cash and money that you deserve as a result of the blood, sweat and tears that you put in to running your construction business.
Consider The Things That Impact Your Revenue
So, let’s think about the things that impact your revenue:
- Your competitors. Your competitors impact your revenue. If you have a competitor who is either cheaper than you or better than you, reflect on how that impacts your revenue. The next thing is market conditions. So, right now because market conditions are as they are, that might drive your revenue up. Now between 2008 and 2012, market conditions probably drove your revenue down.
- Customer budgets. In other words, how much money your customer wants to spend on the project. That impacts your revenue. And these things can all cause revenue to be driven down. Now let’s take a look at what impacts cost. Weather obviously impacts cost. If you can’t get out there and build, then that impacts your cost.
- Regulations impact cost.
I’m in California and if you’re in California, you know how regulations impact your cost. Customer demands if they’re not satisfied with the quality or if they change their minds on a variety of things impact cost. Material and sub prices. Okay, we got tariff wars on the horizon or perhaps even happening right now. That can impact your cost. And all those things can drive cost up. So if revenue is driven down and cost is driven up profit levels are impacted. What you’ll notice about all of these things are they are on the outside of the two lines of revenue and cost. And I think you’re going to get the picture here as we move one.
How You Can Drive Up Your Revenue
What can you do that can drive revenue up?
Well, value engineering is definitely one way to do that. Finding creative ways to help your customers build projects more quickly, more efficiently and less expensively. Bid accuracy can drive revenue up.
Customer service. If you take care of your customers and they keep giving you more work that can drive revenue up.
Understanding your market, understanding which jobs to take and which to not take can drive your revenue up. Bid strategy has an impact on revenue. And then change order management, I tell you. Manage those change orders, you don’t have to nickel and dime your customers to death but if you’re doing a lot of work for them that’s outside of your scope make sure that you’re getting paid. All of these things can drive revenue up.
Avoid The Things That Drive Down Costs
Now what drives costs down? Operating costs. If you have a fat overhead, that’s going to have an impact on you.
Quality causes cost to be driven down. If you don’t have to do rework, then obviously that makes you more money and saves you
money. Safety drives cost down both in terms of workers compensation and a variety of other aspects.
Productivity improvements drive costs down. Materials and sub management drives cost down. And then finally, cash flow drives cost down. Cash is expensive and if you have good cash flow in your business and you don’t have to tap into your line of credit, then that drives costs down.
So if you think about all of those things, what is the outcome? Those things drive costs down and the things on the top here drive revenue up. Again, I know this is maybe 101, but it’s extremely important because these are the opportunities for high performance in your construction company. And the spring is driven by operating systems and processes.
So if you want to improve the performance of your organization, you must dial in your operating systems and processes. The good news is all of these things are controllable to one degree or another by you or your organization. All of the things on the inside, the things on the outside are pretty much out of your control, one degree or another. The things on the inside are in your control.
Here I’ve got this pretty clean triangle. This is the ideal of a construction company. You bid the work, you plan the work, you build the work and you get paid for it. This is the ideal.
But we understand that we’re not necessarily living in an ideal world. And if it was ideal then what would happen before we get the plans during we build it nicely and quickly and then we put a nice ribbon on it, post it on our website, pump it up on social media, get paid by the client and everything is sweet. That’s the ideal.
But the reality is a little bit different. It’s multifaceted, it’s uncertain, there are tons of unknowns and there are many people involved. So you’ve got this project and you’ve got the owner of the project and you’ve got the GC and you’ve got the subs and you’ve got all these other suppliers surrounding the project.
And in the midst of all of that, there’s stuff that whether you’re a sub or whether you’re a GC there are stuff that you have no control over, some control over and total control of. In the midst of all of that, you’ve got to understand that you have to concentrate on the few tasks that are done with excellence will really make a difference in the results of your job and in the performance of your company.
So with that in mind, the mindset that you have as a high performer is extremely important. And you’ve got to be able to handle adversity on a daily basis in your construction company. And I know the people here on the line, if you’re successful in construction you’ve gone through your share of adversity and you need to be able to help others in your company continue to go through that adversity.
N.E.A.T. Will Help You Get Through Adversities
Here’s a NEAT little acronym to help you go through the adversity that happens and to really set your mind in a positive way so that you can achieve high performance. Let me go through it.
Normal — When you’re going through adversity you’ve got to understand that it’s ‘normal. Adversity is normal in construction. High performers understand that adversity is part of the game and it’s part of a life and they don’t magnify those adverse conditions. It’s normal.
Expected — The next thing it’s ‘expected’. You should expect every day to walk into the office and have some sort of challenge occur whether it’s a process challenge, a people challenge, a client challenge, whether you’ve got to have a difficult conversation with a sub or a general or with your owner. Whatever the case, you must expect that adversity.
Accept — What you have to do is you have to ‘accept’ it. So some people expect adversity but they never really accept it and you can see it in their attitude. They whine, they complain, they blame, they try and shift the blame on other people. You must accept that adversity is a part of the game.
Tidy-Up — And then you have to have a mentality, “it’s time to tidy up,” that’s the last part of the NEAT acronym. You must ‘tidy up.’ You must always have the mindset that you’re looking to get things better. You’re always looking to improve.
I’ll tell you, one of the reasons why people are not happy in their lives is because they’re not improving, they’re not changing, they’re not developing, they’re not performing at an excellent level and striving for that excellence. So when you come across that adversity in your life, have the mindset: its normal, it’s expected, I accept it and now I’m going to tidy up, I’m going to make improvement. That’s fundamental as far as high performance is concerned.
How Do High Performers Act?
So we’ve covered the mindset of high performers and now, we really want to dive into the heart of the webinar with the action of high performers. I want to encourage you to pay careful attention to what I’m going to share with you here because this one piece of the webinar can have a huge impact on your business.
I’m going to start with a little illustration here. I want you to name the player. Now if you don’t like baseball I’m going to ask you to forgive me in advance but we’re going to have some sports illustrations here because we’re going to really tap into what high performing athletes do in order to achieve high performance and we’re going to use sports as an illustration.
So three World Series appearances, a 4-0 lifetime record in the World Series, a 0.25 time lifetime earned run average. That means opponents score a quarter run every nine innings against this pitcher.
And in 2014 when he was last in the World Series, he had one complete game, one shutout, one save and he was the World Series MVP. Who is this baseball player? Does anybody know, just chat that into the box. Who is this baseball player?
I hope we don’t have too many Dodger fans on the line today. His name is Madison Bumgarner. I just want to tell you a little story about Madison Bumgarner in terms of high performance.
He entered the deciding game 7 of the World Series in the fifth inning. A couple of days earlier he pitched a complete game shutout for the victory in the fifth game. So he entered the seventh game of the World Series in the fifth inning which is an extremely unusual thing to do.
The seventh and deciding game was played by the San Francisco giants against the Kansas City Royals in Kansas City. He’s standing on this little mound of dirt surrounded by 50,000 people who fervently want him to fail.
And surrounded by people who wanted him to fail, he focused on high performance by understanding what he needed to do in order to achieve the outcome he was seeking. That was simply throw hard strikes.
He was seeking the outcome of getting batters out and ultimately winning the game and in order to achieve that, he focused on the task of throwing hard strikes. Now he pitched inning after inning, the fifth, the sixth, the seventh and the eighth and then he got to the bottom of the ninth with two outs. In baseball, you only need three outs to get out of an inning and here he was on the verge of winning the game.
Up steps this one batter the scraggly bearded guy and in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, he hits a looping line drive to left center field. The center fielder rushes to play the ball and he’s stuck between whether he should catch it on the fly and get the out or play it on a bounce and hold the runner to a single. And what happens is that he boots the ball and it goes behind him and the guy actually goes all the way to third base and he ends up on third base instead of being held to a single or getting out. So on the verge of winning Madison Bumgarner is put in this distressing situation and you can imagine how he might have responded. Now this is very, very important.
High performers again concentrate on the few tasks that if done with excellence will really make a difference in the results of their job and in the performance of their company.
So let’s dive into a little more detail on high performance. Now here we have on the screen Pete Rose, we’re going to talk about the action of high performers. What is Pete Rose famous for? Well, many people know that he is famous for gambling on his own team. Betting on his own team.
Now in Pete’s defense he claims that he never bet against his team. He used to manage the Cincinnati Reds after his playing days and he actually bet on his own team which is absolutely classic. But as a baseball player, what he was famous for was his hitting. He is the all time leader in hits and here you see him executing the action of a high performer. And if you ask Pete what he is doing here it’s very simple: he is seeing the ball and hitting the ball. And that’s where we want to dive into the secret of situational goals.
Now the ultimate outcome he’s looking for is to get on base and to score runs. But in order to do that, he first has to see the ball and hit the ball. And this is the secret of situational goals. So whatever outcome that you’re seeking to achieve, you have to break it down the tasks into smaller parts and then work on those parts. This is absolutely essential to high performance.
In order to achieve high performance, you have to have the right mindset, the right equipment and then the right swing or the right action. I you think about Pete Rose he was an extremely good hitter, every time he got into the batter’s box he got in there with a lot of confidence because he knew he was extremely competent. Now not only did he have the right mindset, but he had the right equipment. He got into the batter’s box with a baseball bat, so he didn’t get in there with a wiffle ball bat or with a stick–he was going to have a hard time hitting a 90-mile-an-hour fastball with a stick–but he went in there with the right equipment.
He also had the right action or the right swing to help him execute his action and achieve the outcome he was looking for.
How High Performers Act In The Construction Company Business
Now with all of that in mind let’s take a look at that in terms of a construction context. Let’s think of estimating for a moment.
The mindset that you should have every time you get into an estimating situation is that this is the right job for the right client in the right location. The equipment that you have in terms of estimating is your plans, your spreadsheets, the conversations that you have with people, that’s the equipment that you use to put together a good estimate.
And then the swing is the way you present the estimate to the potential client, how you present what you’re going to do. So you put those three things together you’ve got the right client, you’ve got that mindset, you’ve got the right equipment and you have the right presentation and you put yourself in the place of increasing the likelihood of winning that bid.
If you think of it in terms of project management, the mindset should be on time and under budget. And you want to be able to execute a project safely and on schedule with great quality and hopefully under budget. The equipment is your phone, your e-mail and face-to-face job site visits.
The swing is the conversations that you have with people. Sometimes, those conversations are difficult; sometimes they’re easy. But hopefully, you’re looking through those conversations to get to a good resolution.
So you have the right mindset, you have the right equipment and the right swing and hopefully, you make money as a result of managing projects. Now what I want you to think about is this–now this is very important, write this down–what are the top three outcomes that you’re expected to achieve in your position?
If someone can give me some input on that, please.
“Win profitable jobs”, that’s beautiful. “Manage a job on time and safely”, absolutely. This is excellent. “Pick the most important outcome that you’re supposed to achieve.”
Now I know one of you here you just typed in “win profitable jobs”. Excellent. So you just take that one outcome.
Now if you go back to the mindset that we talked about earlier, there are things that you control, have complete control over, there’s things that you have no control over and there’s things that you have some control over.
Identify The Tasks That Would Lead To Your Most Desired Outcome
Now if you think about winning profitable jobs, that’s something that you have some control over. It’s not something you have complete control over, but it’s something that you have some control over. And that’s why it’s important for you to understand how you can improve your performance of the tasks that lead to that outcome.
So let’s just think about this and whether it’s bringing a job in on time and safely, whether it’s winning profitable jobs, I’d like you to think about the top three tasks that lead to that outcome. And just write those down real quick if you’d like.
“Get accurate material costs, accurate production rates.” That’s excellent. Okay, so those are two, if you only have two that’s great. And let’s see here, as far as on time and safely, control schedule, correct labor loading, track and collect for impacts. Excellent, so this is great stuff guys, this is really great.
Okay, so it’s important that you identify your most important outcome and then the tasks that lead to that outcome. What you want to do after you’ve done that is pick the most important task that leads to your most important outcome.
So reflecting on the tasks that lead to the outcome which is the most important task that leads to your most important outcome. “Track impacts from delays, scope, and changes”. “Accurate production rates and construction techniques.”
What You Can Do To Improve The Performance Of Your Tasks
So once you’ve identified your most important outcome and your most important task that leads to the most important outcome and it’s great that you guys are walking through this yourselves because now you can take this and teach it to your people.
This is the key question here: in what specific ways can we improve your performance of this task? That’s a really, really important question.
And what I would do when I’m teaching my clients this is I give them two minutes to think about their most important task that leads to their most important outcome and then they brainstorm ways that they can improve their performance of that task. This is very important.
Now let me give you a practical example. This is a practical example from a client. I asked them to – I taught this process in a leadership class to one of my clients, one of them is in charge of quality control in their shop because they do some prefabrication in their shop before they go out on site.
So I asked this person, what are the top three outcomes that they’re expected to achieve in their position. And those three outcomes for this person in charge of quality control of their prefabrication was: good quality work, educate fitters and welders in building codes and then have inspectors here when needed. Those are the top three outcomes.
So then I asked him to pick his most important outcome and he chose good quality work. Okay, so good quality work. Quality is the most important outcome. Then I asked him what are the tasks that lead to that outcome? This is what he said, “Accurate measurements, attention to detail, and then spreading knowledge, spreading knowledge to other people.”
So I asked him what his most important task of those three things was and he picked accurate measurements. Now this is a real life example, accurate measurements.
I then asked him , “what specific ways can you improve your performance of that task?” This is what he came up with:
Number one, take time to read and understand what I’m measuring.
Establish running dimensions, that’s kind of a technical term for him.
Ensure my equipment is up to par and then have the correct equipment for the job.
So those are the ways that he could improve his performance of his most important task. And then I asked him to pick the most important way that he could do that and he “picked ensure my equipment is up to par”.
Okay, this is really great. Now check this out. So his most important outcome is good quality work, his most important task is accurate measurements and his how he could improve the performance of the task ensure his equipment is up to par.
So you can take this process here and learn it for yourself and you can teach it to other people. Dave took this and in a short time, he was able to identify his most important outcome, his most important task and how he could improve that outcome. This process is designed to get you clear and focused on the tasks you need to improve upon in order to achieve high performance.
Understanding high performance is easy, achieving it is very difficult. But it’s important to understand that success is not a matter of mastering subtle sophisticated theory but embracing common sense with uncommon levels of discipline and persistence.
Because the hindrances to high performance are a lack of clarity, multitasking and poor communication.
So in order to get clarity you must ask yourself: “What is my role? What is most important right now?” In order to really be able to concentrate, you have to understand that multitasking is ineffective and I’m going to talk about how you can avoid that a little bit later.
And then you’ve also got to communicate. High performers are excellent at communicating so they don’t get distracted from achieving high performance. Okay, so we’ve talked about the mindset of high performers, we’ve talked about the action of high performers and now we’re going to dive into the daily discipline of high performers.
The 3-Step Process Practiced By High Performers
So now we’d like to talk about the daily discipline of high performers. So what I’d like to do is ask the audience here: What is your biggest challenge with your daily discipline in terms of high performance? Can you please chat that into the box.
“Phone calls from the field with problems”. Yeah, I tell you, now that’s real right there. Problems, problems, problems, right.
“Getting information of variations from pre-planned work from the field staff.” Yeah, I tell you, information – so it’s interesting, ah, on the one hand you want information, on the other hand sometimes that information can be distracting. But it’s difficult to discipline yourself for high performance in construction. Just by the nature of the business, there are things happening all the time, dynamic things happening on a daily basis and that’s why this next section of the webinar is so essential. So please listen up for this here.
Now in order to discipline yourself you need to go through a 3-step process:
- Analyze Your Day.
What I’m giving you here is a structure that is vital to success. It’s not enough to be talented, it’s not enough to want to win in any endeavor including construction. If you’re going to enjoy consistent success over a long period of time, you must have the discipline to structure each day to achieve high performance. And the idea here is to implement a structure that’s not complicated but does require self-discipline to follow a simple process every single day.
Okay, so if you follow this process you’ll be able to get rid of the overwhelm from which many construction executives suffer and be free to focus on the few tasks that if done with excellence will help you to achieve the outcomes that you’re responsible for.
Analyze Your Day The Night Before
So again, the first thing we want to do is we want to ANALYZE. A high performing day begins typically the night before. Each evening before you go to bed or maybe right after you’re done with the day’s work, you should be taking time to analyze and get a clear idea of what you need to focus on in the next day to be successful.
Write down everything you need to do the next day, the list will probably contain five to fifteen items and you know, as you look at the list, a pit in your stomach may form as you think of all the stuff you got to deal with. Unpleasant conversations, tedious meetings, mundane procedures. But when you’re doing this analysis I want you to make sure that you’re not living in fantasy land. Don’t build a fake list, make sure you include everything you’ve committed to, the meetings, the bids, everything like that, things that are likely to come up, the interruptions and other people’s fires.
For example if you’ve got a green project manager that’s dealing with a tough project and a difficult owner, you’re likely to get one of those interrupting phone calls. And if you’ve trained them to interrupt you because you’re the one who always fixes their problems, you’re more than likely to get much more of those phone calls.
Because if you’re like many construction leaders, you train them that whenever they face a conflict with an owner, all they need to do is interrupt you and you’ll stop what you’re doing, run into a phone booth, change into Superman and heroically save the day. So if you’ve trained your people to treat you as the hero that always saves them then don’t be surprised if you get interrupted all the time. So if you know when an interruption is going to happen at some point tomorrow write that down, okay, it’s going to be something that requires your attention.
Now as you’re looking at your list, you want to really analyze it. Your list will include things you could do, things you should do, and things you must do. Ask yourself first: will the tasks that I’ve written down help me to achieve the vision I’ve set out for my business?
High performers have a vision of where they want to go. And then you’ve got to ask: Does this list align with the strategy I’ve chosen to achieve my vision? Do the tasks give me the opportunity to make the unique contribution I can make which, if done with excellence, will really make a difference to the business?
So you’ve got to ask that strategy question, you’ve got to ask that unique contribution question and then you’ve got to be able to really look at it in this way. Because the intersection between your strategy, your vision and your unique contribution is your high performance sweet spot.
Okay, will these tasks help you to achieve the vision you’ve set out for your business, does it align with your strategy and does it give you an opportunity to do what you do best. I’ll tell you it’s really frustrating if you spend most of your life doing other people’s tasks or not focusing on what you do best. Okay, so you analyze and now it’s time to PRUNE.
Be Real And Prune Your List.
This is probably the funnest part but also the most challenging. You’ve got to be able to prune that list down. And it’s difficult but it’s fun because it can be liberating.
There are three parts to pruning:
- You’ve got to be brutal—Because great leaders spend as much time as possible every day getting in and staying in that high performance sweet spot. So I’m going to explain what I mean by being brutal, by being lazy and by being bold. First you’ve got to be brutal. And what I mean by that is you have to delete stuff on the list, get comfortable with saying no.
Let me give you a practical example. Let’s say you have on your list a meeting that someone has invited you to, okay, a meeting. Executives get their lives sucked up by meetings. So when you look at the meeting ask yourself this, am I going to give an enthusiastic yes to going to that meeting or when I look at that meeting am I thinking oh, do I really want to go?
Let me just encourage you, if you can’t say yes, I want to go to that meeting, then delete it. Get rid of it. Be comfortable with saying no. It’s the first thing you should say to yourself when you look at your list. Determine that you’re not going to waste your time on stuff that doesn’t matter or isn’t the highest and best use of your energy and effort. Delete it, get rid of it.
- You’ve got to be lazy—The next thing you want to do is you want to be lazy. And what I mean by that is practice procrastination. So for instance, if there is a bid due three weeks from today and you only need a week to work on it stop thinking about it tomorrow. Don’t waste time tomorrow stuffing it into your schedule, defer it, procrastinate it, put it off.
- You’ve got to be bold—You got to get someone else to do it. You need to delegate. So if you’re honest, most of the stuff on your list could be done by someone else. But if you like to play the hero or if you don’t trust other people or if you fail to train your team, your schedule is going to be stuffed with tasks that are not in that high performance sweet spot.
So teach your project managers how to have tough conversations, stop micromanaging your estimators, hold your superintendents accountable for doing quality work. Delegate, delegate, delegate.
Okay, so once you’ve pruned and you’ve marked the tasks to be deleted deferred or delegated, you’re ready for the final step of the process and that is walk. You’ve got to give yourself permission to concentrate on the actions that lead to the desired outcomes. You’ve got to block your time, again after analyzing and pruning your list the structure of the next day should be taking shape.
How To Eliminate Distractions
You got to set aside time to focus on the things that only you can do, that if done excellently will have the biggest impact on the company. Dedicate yourself to high performance. Here are three steps to making that blocking effective:
- Give Yourself Permission.The first thing you have to do is give yourself permission. The problem with a lot of construction company owners and executives is they feel guilty if they shut their office door, leave the office or turn off their phone. Now I understand that you can’t do that all the time, you’ve got to field some calls. But you should be good at blocking out time during the day where you close that door and focus on the tasks that you need to do to achieve high performance. Stop feeling guilty, be crystal clear on what’s most important and give yourself permission to block out time in your schedule to do that.
- Eliminate Distractions.The second thing you need to do is eliminate distractions. One way that you can eliminate distractions is to turn off your phone. If you need to remove your phone and somehow block the Internet access from your computer–there are lots of tools to do that–do so.
- Discipline Yourself.And then what you have to do is you have to discipline yourself. So you have to have the courage to discipline yourself to take on the tough tasks. A good definition of courage is doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done, whether you feel like it or not. There are tons of things in life that we don’t feel like doing but we have to have the courage to discipline yourself.
How can you improve your self-discipline? What are the hard things tough conversations, difficult decisions you need to set aside time to address today? What are those things that need to be done that you’re avoiding? Make a commitment to block time and choose to do what needs to be done regardless of how you feel.
Now when I say these things you might say, “Well, I’ve tried to structure my day and I fail because every time I try that I always get a bunch of phone calls coming in and just challenges.”
Let me just encourage you, make the effort, think about where your high performance sweet spot is, think about that intersection between your vision, your strategy and your unique contribution and really make the effort to block out time even if it’s only an hour or 90 minutes a day to block out time to work on your business instead of in your business. To really focus on how you can make a contribution.
Give yourself that permission and dedicate yourself to removing distractions so that you can block out that time and hit that high performance sweet spot.
Do What You Do Best
Because going back to Pete Rose here for a moment this is key, he’s the all time leader in hits, in games played he won three World Series, three batting titles, one Most Valuable Player award, two Gold Gloves, Rookie of the Year, 17 all star appearances and he had a 24 year career which is absolutely amazing.
And I’ll tell you one thing, the reason he did that is because day after day, year after year for almost a quarter of a century, his professional life was structured around being an elite baseball player and achieving high performance. What are you doing to achieve high performance, to structure your day to do that? Because I’ll tell you one thing that Pete Rose never did, Pete Rose never sold hotdogs at the game.
He never sold hotdogs. Somebody else sold hotdogs. Now maybe Pete could have sold more hotdogs than anybody else, right, because he was so famous and people would buy a hotdog from Pete and maybe get him to autograph the wrapper or something like that.
But my point is that he didn’t sell hotdogs. What he did is he spent a lot of time sitting in the dugout waiting to do what he did best which is preparing himself to hit a baseball. And that’s something that you need to focus on, too, if you’re really going to get good at high performance.
You have to be able to eliminate distractions, stop selling hotdogs when you should be focused on hitting the baseball. Take that away from here, how is it that you’re selling hotdogs in your business instead of hitting baseballs? Focus your life on performing at a high level. So keep that in mind here.
Before I move on to this high performers what they choose to do just give me some feedback, what is your biggest take away from this framework that I’ve been sharing with you so far?
“Simple structure”. Again high performance isn’t easy but it’s simple.
“Get focused.” Absolutely. I tell you, man, we get so distracted with a bunch of stuff that doesn’t matter. The more you can understand the two or three things that you need to focus on in order to achieve high performance, the better it’s going to be. That’s excellent.
What High Performers Do On A Daily Basis
Okay, so let me just give you what high performers choose to do on a daily basis:
- They choose to get something out of all situations rather than complain about them.
- They choose to hustle rather than dog it.
- They choose to be prepared rather than just show up.
- They choose to be consistent rather than occasional.
- They choose to be early rather than just on time or late.
- They choose to want to learn rather than want to explain or excuse. I got these choices from Harvey Dorfman who is a very famous sports psychologist.
- They choose to want to do more rather than just enough or less.
- They choose to be mentally tough rather than mentally lazy or intimidated.
- High performers choose to concentrate on what to do rather than on what may result.
- They choose to be aggressive rather than passive or submissive.
- They know their limitations and they embrace those rather than try to do more than they’re capable of.
- They choose to think about solutions rather than worry about problems.
- They choose to accept adversity as part of the game and of life rather than magnify the adverse conditions and seek sympathy.
- They choose to share with and help others rather than be selfish and they choose to think and act positively rather than negatively.
Okay, so let’s go back to Madison Bumgarner, bottom of the ninth through two outs there’s a guy on third and Bumgarner has a choice. He could choose to freak out over the situations, blame other people, get mad at the fact that his center fielder blew it or he can focus on what he has control over.
And so what you see him doing next–and you can check it out on the Internet if you’re that interested in it–but he throws hard pitch after hard pitch after hard pitch. He focuses on what he can control and ultimately, he gets the last guy out and the Giants won the World Series.
And I submit to you that even if he hadn’t got that guy out and the guy had got a hit and the Royals had won the World Series Madison Bumgarner focused on what he could control and he performed at an elite high level.
In this webinar, we’ve covered the mindset of high performers, the action of high performers and the daily discipline of high performers. So it’s time for you to get to work.
What I’d like to ask you now is, what is the one thing that you’re going to take away from this webinar today? Let me just throw that out there. What is the one thing that you’re going to take, what did you learn, what did you notice, what will you do differently? Just give me one thing that you’re going to do as a result of what you’ve learnt today, please. Concentrate on what to do rather than results. I tell you, going back it’s so awesome, man, you cannot control the outcome, you could only control what you’re doing.
If you go back earlier, we were talking about that one outcome of winning every job but you can control
how accurately you bid, you can control how you develop relationships with the people that you’re bidding to. So that’s really great.
Here we have, “hire additional employees.” Yes, yes, I tell you, delegate. Let me just encourage you, this is really practical.
“Make a list of all the stuff you’re doing and then just be brutally honest.” What’s the stuff that you’re doing that’s just sucking you away from your genius, from that high performance sweet spot? That’s something that you really got to be able to do. That’s excellent, that’s an excellent application right there.
As we get to the end of the webinar here this is what Patton says, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”
So perhaps if you need to hire additional employees, maybe a good plan is just getting out there and beginning to identify who you need to hire and then getting to work on that hiring process. The perfect employee may not be out there, but at least you can begin the process.
Again my name is Eric Anderton. I appreciate you joining me for this webinar. I look forward to helping you in any way that I can. If you have any questions, of course just contact me directly and I really appreciate you taking the time to be on the webinar here with me today.