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By: Brigid Huber on November 28th, 2018

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Channel Your Inner Elephant…to Be the GOAT

Blog Posts | Operating Insights

I have decided to try and be more relevant these days. Appeal and relate to the millennials and younger. And so, out with Best Practice terminology (it feels a bit worn out anyway) and in with the GOAT. Or rather, fine turn your Best Practices in order to be the GOAT.

My kids have used this phrase for years, “he’s the GOAT,” “she’s the GOAT.”

What?

The Greatest of All Time.

So, how can you make your Company the GOAT? Are there areas where you are already known as the GOAT in the industry? If so, congrats.
If not, following are some thoughts on getting you there.

Look Back

Sometimes, the first step in moving forward is looking back at where you have been. This is where the elephant comes in…great memories!

  • I have been told that the “wake doesn’t propel the boat forward,” the point, of course, is to not spend your time looking backward. I agree for the most part, but I do think you need to look back at where you have been to help chart the course for your future.
  • What got you here? “Here” might be good or bad but either way, it is important to understand what got you to this point.
    • What have you traditionally been best at?
    • Where have you veered off the path?
    • What old practices/plans do not work anymore?
  • Be honest in your assessment of what brought you and your company to this point. Ask for feedback from those you respect. A fresh lens.
  • Be careful not to live in the glory days or become paralyzed by prior missteps. Instead, find something concrete to build upon.

Other “Remembers”

  • Remember that your crews are probably the most important people in your organization.
    • They get (or don’t get) the job done.
    • They are the face of the organization to your customer.
  • Remember that you do not know everything.
  • Remember that people are motivated differently.  Soft skills matter…even in construction, so you better have someone in the organization who is conscious of that.
  • Remember that you are only as strong as your team.

Expect Change, It is Inevitable

Whether you like it or not, things in life and work do not stay the same.

Economics, competition, growth, personnel changes force companies to continually adjust.  Change may seem undesirable at first and often, when we are as busy as everyone is these days (at least, I hope you are all busy), it can create great stress.

Take a breath and find a new perspective.

Take the situation of an employee leaving unexpectedly. You may think they were irreplaceable but in many cases that I see, this void is a call and opportunity to make your company better. It does require owners to get back in the weeds for a bit. A longtime, trusted employee may or may not have been getting things accomplished as the owner had assumed. Rather than finding a quick replacement, make sure that you take the time to assess the situation and understand your hiring need. Look at the rest of that particular department and determine whether you could take advantage of some reorganization first. This may result in a different kind of hire than originally thought...and propel you down the path to becoming the GOAT.

Growth can also be a catalyst for change. It may cause you to have to make difficult personnel changes. Back office staff are a good illustration of this. Many contractors start as small, one or two crew operations and the back office is run by one bookkeeper who does everything besides sell and work in the field. This person handles any and everything the owner asks of them. Insurance, technology, accounting, vehicle licenses, human resources, and on and on. While this may work early in your company’s life cycle, many companies grow beyond the capabilities and capacity of this person, but they fail to make any changes or additions to the back office. Before you know it (or worse, don’t know it!), things are slipping through the cracks, corners are being cut, controls are skipped. Definitely not the path to being the GOAT. Having periodic internal or external review of your office and field processes can help avoid the missteps.

Empower People and Encourage Communication

Some of the greatest organizations that I have worked with have a focus on empowering their people and on constant communication.

People have ideas and people want to feel a part of a success.  Empower your employees to think outside the traditional ways of getting things done. This goes for field and office...and across disciplines. Office staff might have ideas for production and vice versa. Tell and show your employees that their ideas and feedback matter. Listen and hear. Encourage and reward it!

Also, encourage communication within and across departments. Get field and office in the same room, openly communicating about process and flow. The more each “group” understands how their work affects the whole, the more pride they will take in the job they do and there will be less divisiveness and more collaboration.

Greatest Of All Time.

Wouldn’t that be something?


Brigid M. Huber, CPA is the president and owner of Contractor Strategy Consultants. She has spent the last 25 years working in both public accounting and industry, specializing in the construction industry for the last 15 years.