Coaching word map

5 Mistakes of General Contractors

As part of my business coaching for builders, I am in the fortunate position of seeing what successful builders do versus those who have some improvements to make. One thing I think we can all agree on, running a business in the construction space is not easy. The work is physically hard, it’s often quite complex, it often comes with emotionally charged clients and margins are often too slim. There is limited space to make errors, either technical or in running your business. 

I can’t help you become a better builder, from a technical perspective, but I can help you reduce errors in the running of your business. So what are the main errors I see by builders finding and running their own jobs, ie the general contractor? There are many, but here is my top 5 to work on first…

The Leader in You

5 Elements of Effective Leadership

Becoming a leader isn’t easy because it takes a conscious commitment and consistent effort to develop one’s leadership skills. It is focusing on doing the right thing first, rather than focusing on doing things right. That’s what a good manager does. But on the positive side, anyone who is willing to make the effort can become a good leader. And because good leadership is critical to business success, your efforts to improve your leadership skills will be amply rewarded. By working on these five keys of leadership, you can become the leader your small business needs.

The Great Resignation

One of the main frustrations of business owners at this time is the difficulty in finding qualified staff to grow their teams. A strong construction market, coupled with a close to zero immigration flow, is resulting in the demand for workers increasing while at the same time the supply is shrinking.

Now, according to a recent report in the NZ Herald, employers are also facing a growing trend in team members actively looking at quitting their current jobs and finding something new. It is a phenomenon that has been noted overseas over the past 12-18 months and it looks like it is coming here. In the US it is being referred to as The Great Resignation. The widespread trend of a significant number of workers leaving their jobs during the pandemic. Many are leaving the cities and looking for jobs in smaller centres, or looking for less stressful roles. Some are using the opportunity to better themselves and go for a higher paying position. 

What should you do about it?

above or below the line

Operate Above The Line

Is your team (and you) operating above the line?

I was meeting a builder client of mine today and we got on to the topic of incentives versus fines for staff performance. Also how some team members seemed to constantly come up short and be quick with an excuse. My client said he regularly talks to other builders and they often compare stories of what excuses their staff come up with as to why they failed at a task, forgot to do something or generally screwed up. While they laugh about the excuses, there is a river of frustration running below. These team members are choosing to be “below the line”.
What does that mean and what can you do about it?

All Blacks core values

Act Like The All Blacks

One of the main foundation stones I help my clients develop is a written set of core values, the company culture. I believe it is a vital element of a successful company and one that is often left to chance, or ignored altogether. Get it wrong and it can help to drive away your best customers and your best team members. You may have had one of these situation in the past:

A team member with a bad attitude who constantly complained about your company and its managers. 
You been part of a team with a person who didn’t work as hard as the rest
You worked for a company in which one old-timer is not required to follow the rules or learn new systems and technology
Any sound familiar? These people drag down the atmosphere to their level and make it unpleasant to be around them. To develop a happy, productive and positive company, everyone has to work together, follow the same rules and maintain positive attitudes.

Taking some lessons from top sports teams can be the best place to learn. Read on….

The Hidden Cost of the Minimum Wage Increases

Minimum wage is increasing to $20 per hour with effect from 1 April 2021 which represents another 5.8% increase, or a 31.1% increase over the last 5 years.  Unfortunately, this is about 3 times the rate of inflation over the same period, and this rate of increase is liable to continue until such time as the Minimum wage and the Living Wage are in alignment.  Or, in other words, someone who was on minimum wage in April 2016 of $15.25, would now be being paid $16.42 if they had received CPI increases each year. 

Whatever your political view-point on this, there are 2 key issues for employers:Minimum wage is increasing to $20 per hour with effect from 1 April 2021 which represents another 5.8% increase, or a 31.1% increase over the last 5 years.  Unfortunately, this is about 3 times the rate of inflation over the same period, and this rate of increase is liable to continue until such time as the Minimum wage and the Living Wage are in alignment.  Or, in other words, someone who was on minimum wage in April 2016 of $15.25, would now be being paid $16.42 if they had received CPI increases each year. 

Whatever your political view-point on this, there are 2 key issues for employers: Read on….

Dealing with serial sickies

The classic ‘sickie’. It’s part of New Zealand working folklore, and while most people can honestly admit to ‘chucking’ the occasional sickie, others can stretch the limits of their employers by frequently taking sick days for vague or elusive reasons. In some cases it can get to the point where they are no longer reliably showing up to work.

Sick leave is a legitimate entitlement, and many people genuinely need that time to manage their health or chronic conditions — both mental and physical. In those cases employees should be fully supported via the applicable employment entitlements.

But what if you suspect an employee is misusing their sick leave?

The Right People on Your Business Bus

In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins creates a clear metaphor by comparing a business to a bus and the leader as the bus driver. He emphasizes that it is crucial to continuously ask “First Who, Then What?”

You are a bus driver. The bus, your company, is at a standstill, and it’s your job to get it going. You have to decide where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, and who’s going with you.

Most people assume that great bus drivers (read: business leaders) immediately start the journey by announcing to the people on the bus where they’re going—by setting a new direction or by articulating a fresh corporate vision.

In fact, leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with “where” but with “who.”

I’d Rather Juggle Chainsaws

Labour is biggest maker or breaker in project profitability in the construction industry. A 5% swing either way can cause a 50% swing in net profit.  This is particularly true for renovation projects, where the labour component typically represents a higher proportion of the total cost, compared to new builds.  The work is also more…

Struggling to find staff?

I guess you’ve noticed, finding a good people to add to your team isn’t easy right now, especially if you are in Auckland or Christchurch. I hear this complaint regularly from the owners of construction companies I talk to and that they either have low or no response to their ads, or that the calibre of…