Leadership

Ep.94: Bringing Military Leadership to Construction with Cody Ross

One thing Tim hears frequently in his travels and consulting with remodelers is the desire for fewer layers of management, replaced by more leadership. 

One of the best places to learn and develop leadership skills is the U.S. Armed Forces.

Cody Ross served in the U.S. Marine Corps. from April 2005 – December 2014 as a combat engineer, doing everything from infantry to building bridges, and has found his experience translates well to remodeling and construction.

In this episode, Cody talks to Tim and Steve about using military leadership techniques and procedures to positively affect the construction process and to deliver a better client experience.

Cody is the project manager at Irons Brothers Construction Inc., in Shoreline, WA. He’s been with Irons Brothers for four years, and has successfully managed the company’s largest project to date in scope, size, and sale price. 

He’s identified five big leadership takeaways from his time in the military that apply to remodeling and construction — organization of the unit, commanders’ intent, small-unit leadership, planning backwards, and the end-of-week stand down. Cory breaks them down and explains how they translate to remodeling projects, including:

  • The importance of staying in your lane
  • Describing your ideal end state
  • Recognizing who’s best suited to make decisions
  • Time management techniques
  • Streamlining meetings for efficiency
  • The importance of contingency planning
  • How delegation of authority develops accountability and responsibility
  • Handling under-performing trade partners
  • Using BAMCIS* for further planning in remodeling
  • The five-paragraph order
  • And more …

*BAMCIS is a tool that stands for Begin the planning, Arrange for reconnaissance, Make reconnaissance, Complete the plan, Issue the order, and Supervise. 

Ep.93: Women in Leadership on Site with Dejah Léger

We talk a great deal about ways to beat the labor shortage, including the importance of training and education in keeping good employees. We’ve also discussed how to promote the trades as an attractive career choice. 

There’s a third component — finding the right people. And that may mean changing your thinking about what, or who, you’re looking for.

Dejah Léger came into remodeling with no experience, but was “trained from scratch,” she says. Due to her motivation and ability to learn quickly, she was promoted to lead carpenter within a year.

In this episode, Dejah talks to Tim and Steve about her experiences changing careers to become a carpenter and project manager, the challenges, and why women are a big asset on the job site.

Dejah is a lead carpenter/project manager at Irons Brothers Construction in Shoreline, WA. The first project she led was a major kitchen remodel, and she has continued to lead multiple jobs since then. Her role as the only female lead carpenter in Shoreline is a huge advantage on many levels. It points to the many reasons women should be recruited to be bags-on, even if it means large initial investments in training. 

Dejah’s remodeling career started when one of the company’s owners recruited her at her daughter’s baseball game. Her coworkers trained her on-site, she studied everything she could at night, and Irons Brothers sends their team to training and trade shows. She talks about what it’s like being a woman in a male-dominated industry, changing careers, and the advantages it gives her in the field, including:

  • Establishing authority and leading on site
  • Why the labor shortage leveled the playing field for her
  • Communicating with clients 
  • Creating relationships with subs and vendors
  • Finding safety equipment that fits
  • Training on her own
  • The physical aspects of the job
  • Using her graphic design background to understand plans
  • Why to recruit more women
  • And more …

Getting past preconceived notions of what a carpenter or project manager has always been is the first step toward recruiting and retaining good team members — and that includes women.

Ep.91: Talking Safety with Mark Paskell

Just because you’ve never been visited or cited by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration doesn’t mean you’re following safe business practices. Even if you or no one on your crew has been injured, it doesn’t necessarily mean your job sites are safe — you might just be lucky.

Most OSHA standards apply to the residential building and remodeling industries, and require employers to protect their workers by establishing safety programs and providing training. 

In this episode, Mark Paskell talks to Tim and Steve about how to create a safety culture and the benefits of running safe job sites and protecting your team.

Mark is president of The Contractor Coaching Partnership Inc. in Sterling, MA. He founded the company in 2007 to coach and mentor residential contractors on business, systems, sales, and safety. Mark became an authorized OSHA Outreach Trainer in 2012.

Creating a culture of safety is the first and biggest thing a business can do, says Mark. It has to start at the top — owners and managers need to be on board and involved, not just those in the field. Residential standards are as stringent as commercial standards, but there’s less of a focus on meeting those standards on sites. Mark talks about the things residential remodelers and builders should focus on, including:

  • The differences between OSHA 10 and OSHA 30
  • The most cited violations
  • The top job-site hazards — and how to minimize them
  • Hiring safe sub-contractors
  • What personal protection equipment your crew should wear
  • Misconceptions about safety and OSHA you may be making
  • Putting money into the budget for safety training
  • Investing in people and equipment to attract and keep employees
  • Why safer crews complete better jobs
  • How much time to invest in training
  • Safety meetings: how often you should have them, and what to cover
  • Why you should invite OSHA to your company
  • And more …

You can download materials to help you with your safety training at the OSHA website.

Ep.90: Moving Company Culture to the Job Site with Dennis Engelbrecht

Between 1950 and 2010, the use of the term “company culture” has doubled — Tim looked it up.  But for a lot of people, it’s still a bit of a mystery. You hear about having a good culture, but it can be hard to quantify.

Often, remodeling companies can have a great culture in the office, but it doesn’t always make it out to the field staff on the job site. Sometimes the office and the job site have two separate cultures, so the team as a whole doesn’t share a company culture. Complicating matters, as you grow, your culture will change too — in ways you may not expect.

In this episode, Dennis Engelbrecht, discusses company culture with Tim and Steve, especially how to create and maintain a positive culture in the field and get everyone on the same page.

Dennis is a consultant with the Family Business Institute, of Raleigh, NC. He’s devoted his life and career to creating, improving, building, and coaching entrepreneurs for greater business success. Dennis directs the CEO Roundtables Program for Contractors, which he founded to expand upon a group one of his early clients participated in.

Company culture is a collection of a set of beliefs and behaviors that affect the workplace, Dennis says. When trying to set up a good culture, it starts with the company’s leadership. It’s not a defined set of rules, but how everyone acts. The challenge is establishing and maintaining the culture you want, one that creates a workplace people want to be in. Dennis tells you how to create and direct a good company culture, on the job site and in the office, including:

  • Why the owner needs to visit job sites
  • The crucial role of your project manager or lead carpenter
  • How to involve your trade partners on the job site
  • Keeping egos in check
  • The power of a simple greeting
  • The first question to ask on the job site
  • Praising in public, criticizing in private
  • How to manage for success
  • Sharing information
  • Changing the culture — if you’re not the business owner
  • And more …

Your company’s culture on the job site and off can give you a competitive advantage in finding and keeping good team members — a key strategy in beating the labor shortage.

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