Putting people first in a business is bringing humanity back into the construction industry. Something that has not been done much in the past is communicating equally among all teams. Over the years, negative habits have developed in terms of a hierarchy of personnel. There was the boss at the top of the ladder, people such as engineers on the middle rungs, and then there were the field workers at the bottom of the ladder, with everything falling on their heads. Although that’s the way things have been done, it’s not necessarily the way they should have been done. One key to a successful business is when no one is above anyone else in terms of value as a contributing teammate. This gives people the psychological safety to speak up and say what they need to say. Sometimes inexperienced people can bring good ideas to the construction project because they are approaching with a different vantage point and fresh eyes.

Essential human skills are developed when the company’s culture motivates and empowers them. Sure, technical skills and certifications are vitally important. But you’ve got to develop people within the company to get them to go faster, work harder and keep the business moving forward. The central values of the company provide the “why” for employees to go to work every day.

The construction industry changes lives, and that’s something everyone in a construction-related firm can be proud of. Not every industry can say that.

We need to do more of saying what we mean, not just in face-to-face conversations but in written word as well. Advances in technology are lowering barriers and making it easier to collaborate. When you collaborate – or work together to solve a problem – you can keep people in front of problems, rather than being in a constant state of reacting to problems.

Innovators who are proponents of technology are in their own space. Often they can feel isolated. They can see how a particular tech tool can make a company’s processes better in the long run. But they get frustrated when they put a lot of time into evaluating an innovation only to have their supervisor show little to no interest in considering the long-term benefits, only the short-term cost.

Another key to a successful business is using innovation as a way to experience small, measured failures – things that teach you how to succeed in the long run. If something doesn’t work according to plans, you will nearly always learn something from it.

Choose the things that you absolutely cannot afford to fail at. Then choose processes to adjust that won’t wreck the company if you do fail at them. Be vigilant to monitor your technological fine-tuning as it unfolds. In this way you can catch little problems before they become disasters.

Just keep in mind that a return on tech investment is hardly ever immediate. It’s more like putting your money in a savings account. You don’t get all the interest on your investment immediately.

Take some time and redefine what “failure” of a process means to your company. Oftentimes, the true failure is in not even trying to improve an inefficient process that’s costing you money. 

On the recent Bridging the Gap podcast, I chatted with Mike Buckiewicz on how to bring the humanity back into the industry and building a healthy corporate culture. Listen to “It Is Ok to Be Uncomfortable” today.

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