By David Meyers
The traditional season for making New Year’s resolutions is behind us now and already the gym crowds are beginning to thin out, personal budgets are in the red and somewhere there’s an empty Word doc waiting for a book to be written in it. That’s the unfortunate nature of our New Year tradition, but we’re here to rah-rah and help inspire a renewed effort for improvement, particularly with your career. We’ve gathered some reminders of best practices and recommendations for professional accomplishments you can achieve throughout 2017.
Spend less time working. Hard work is a cornerstone principle of the construction industry. Being known as a hard worker is vital to your reputation and there’s a lot of pressure to continually prove yourself and your value on the team and to customers. But working hard doesn’t equate to continuously working long hours. There may be a time and place for working an evening and a few Saturday mornings, but the goal should be working as efficiently as possible during business hours and then leaving the office or job site to enjoy life. In 2017,
In 2017, I will actively look for better ways of managing what I can control.
Read the project contract. It’s an unfortunate truth that legal documents make a terrible read yet have a deep effect on our professions. Many choose to put off learning how to read and understand project contracts, but in doing so they limit their professional growth and forego potentially beneficial rights contained within it. Take it upon yourself to study legalese as it relates to your industry and you’ll gain a profitable skill that makes your expertise competitive in the job market.
I will make an effort to make sure the field team knows more about the contract terms this year.
Expand your skill set. You don’t have to go to school to broaden your knowledge and skills in the industry. The Internet provides access to millions of different learning resources, many of which are free or extremely affordable. YouTube videos and blogs are obvious resources, but there’s also courses from accredited universities on Construction Management, Excel, Accounting, Finance, Business Administration, and Entrepreneurship available to anyone free of charge. (Search using the keyword MOOC - Massive Online Open Course)
I will set out to read/watch/listen to at least one new thing a month in 2017.
Keep up with new materials. Industry disruption for construction tends to begin with new materials changing what’s possible and expected in society. Disruption creates competitive opportunities in business and it’s first come, first serve. The past few years saw materials like self-healing concrete, solar generative glass, and siding, sweaty roofing, even flexible concrete. Not all are economically feasible yet, but this shouldn’t prevent you from actively watching materials relevant to your trade.
I will look for and learn about one new product per quarter in 2017.
Empower your organization. Project management is much more than simply building and budgeting, you have a team to manage. Your organizational structure is a key factor for success. Building an organization is itself a construction project, it requires the right tools and materials. Hire the right people for the right job. Train staff members as necessary. Keep an org chart so ownership is clear to everyone and can be realigned as the project’s demands evolve. Provide tools of communication and record keeping, and then regularly ensure that the channels are being used. If you assemble your team right with roles and responsibilities and give them authority, you won’t need to be the expert in the room that has to constantly double check everything.
I will review, analyze, and modify existing tools and implement one new management tool in 2017.
Win more bids. If there were a magic bullet for getting more work, it would probably end up being a shotgun shell. Winning more bids isn’t about precision, it’s about increasing your bid output. That’s no surprise, but what are you going to do about it this year? Have you identified bottlenecks in your estimating and bidding process that could be streamlined or improved by a digital solution? This is important, growth in your business begins on the estimator’s table.
I will take a few minutes this month and review my bid/win ratio from the last three years and create the bid/win goals for each month of 2017.
Track costs weekly. If you’re in a position of responsibility when it comes to the budget, then get in the habit of looking at expenses on a weekly basis. This should include all costs that you’re liable for, even if that’s work you’re contracting out because anything that hits your lap could compromise the project profitability. The biggest headache to face here is tracking, sorting and saving financial records that are both paper and digital. Choose the format that works best for you; we recommend going digital. It’s easier to audit electronic records and there’s software on the market that converts paper records into a digital format.
I will review my budget and cost worksheets more regularly this year.
Keep safe on the job. Safety is definitely not something we cut corners on, but are you fully familiar with OSHA and other safety protocols your industry requires? If you’re onsite, you should be aware of how things should be done, like handling roofing tar, capping rebar, securing scaffolding and so forth. It’s best not to assume someone else is watching out for you. Accidents do happen, and even a large return from a lawsuit doesn’t make up for life-long injuries.
I will review our safety plan at least once per month while I am superintendent and deliver tailgate safety meetings once a week.
Fight for the client. When approaching a new project, ask yourself “What benefit is the client trying to achieve with this project?” It’s about more than being on budget. Are you helping them create more revenue for a business? Are they looking for greater utility in a living or work space? Are they trying to save costs on heating/cooling or make a space beautiful? This should help not only finish on time and on budget, but also provide meaningful insight on the project that will impress the client.
I will be a more thoughtful listener to my clients in 2017.
Eliminate distractions. Ever heard of Arnold Schwarzenegger? He’s a pretty accomplished guy - Mr. Universe, a real estate millionaire, lead role actor, and California state governor. But he didn’t achieve all that at the same time. Each accomplishment happened individually as he progressed in ambition and shifted his focus. And there’s the key word – focus. Whatever your ambitions in life are, you’re not likely to accomplish all of them at the same time. Consider achieving goals in short sprints of time. Schedule, track and measure effort during that time and you’ll be amazed be how much you can accomplish when you aren’t multitasking you goals.
I will prioritize, timeline, and accomplish my goals this year.
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