Professional Series Part 2 - Leadership & CultureDec 13, 2022
This is part two of our series about what it means to be a professional restorer.
This series is also the last four segments of Season 2 episodes for the Disaster Podcaster.
Part 2 of the series can be found here
In Part 1, we talked about being technically qualified. Having the technical know-how to actually do a particular job to be in this industry will call you a professional. You need to know what you're doing.
In Part 2 we will discuss leadership and culture.
I've been coaching for quite a few years now and have the distinct privilege to interact with many restoration contractors through conferences, coaching sessions, friends, Facebook groups, and the like.
I have come across some winning and losing components that I want to talk about in detail a little bit more. Let's see what a professional looks like in this industry; not only a professional company but a person too.
When we're talking about professional companies and professional individuals, there are different qualities that you need to look into.
I'm not saying that a new technician cannot be a professional, and has never actually had any leadership experience. What I'm talking about is that the 8-10% of this industry that I think is going to continue to change this industry. Changing the industry by standing up and fighting for it means to possess leadership qualities as a company and as the individuals that run it.
Then, I want to add culture to that as well because I think those two are so close together and have the same importance in the corporate world.
Talking About Leadership
According to Simon Sinek, “Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.”
What he's saying here is that leadership is not about being a boss. But as you can see in the world today, in this industry, everyone has a boss. Being a boss now means pushing production, telling people what to do, and even showing people how to turn a bolt or how to dry something.
These are part of being a supervisor and a boss. However, that's not the same thing as being a LEADER.
You don't need another person who can tell other people what to do. But what you need is another leader that can create more leaders. The more people you have below you that are qualified, and that are energized, passionate, creative, and feel like they're actually contributing to something makes your job easier.
These people who work for you are your responsibility. They should be better every single day than they were yesterday. You're responsible while they're there. That’s why you need to take the lead and guide your people in the right direction.
You have the obligation and responsibility in leadership. You can't just expect to have people come work for you. Tell them what to do, they're going to do it, and you call yourself a LEADER.
I think leadership coaching, leadership discussions, and content are vastly overused. In fact, in this world now, I think it's become a keyword and a buzzword for a lot of people. It's not complicated at all.
You've got to find out who you need to be when you are coming up.
Who was your mentor?
Who helped you become a restoration professional?
Who helped you? What did that person do?
What skill sets and characteristics did that person possess to help you become better?
Everyone came from somewhere, and someone helped us along the way to become the best version of ourselves.
Lack of Leadership Qualities
A lot of times, we will advance or promote people that technically know what they're doing, but they're lacking on the leadership side, and they aren't matching. On top of that, they don't even know what your culture is.
Here are the reasons why this happens.
Too many people, business owners, CEOs, managers, upper-level management, and middle management aren't good at expressing what the missions and values are and what the culture should be. So, therefore, no one really knows what they're trying to achieve.
Areas of Leadership and Culture - Employee Onboarding
I think a good professional firm should have great employee onboarding processes. It’s not just a simple way of welcoming a new employee to the company and to other employees. First off, I'd like to talk about beginning expectations.
What is the role that you need that person in?
What do they need to do to win?
What are they accountable for?
What are you expecting of them?
Have that spelled out before you hire someone. Don't do it around the person. Do it around the role. It’s because if you do it around the person, you will always modify that description based on the strengths and weaknesses of that person.
Then, what you'll do is you'll leave some things that aren't in there because you pulled them out, but no one else absorbed them. Who's going to have to do those? You or no one at all? So it ends up getting errors and making a real mess of things around your job.
Always begin with expectations.
Who am I hiring? What do I need them for? What's the value of this person? What do I need them to produce for an ROI so that I can pay them well?
So talking about employee onboarding, you should have an entire program and processes that are effective and efficient.
The Actual First Day of Onboarding
I think you should have one to two days of an onboarding agenda before anyone goes to the field and does the job that was assigned to him or her to do. And that's up to you what that looks like.
The thing here is that you now have a person who's not quite ready to go jump into work. They're not ready for that yet. They need to figure out how the company operates. They need to know what to happen. What happens when this happens? How do they do this, and how do they do that?
A couple of days of onboarding, doing that warm welcome, introducing them to people, getting them to feel comfortable, and letting them ask you questions, that's GREAT LEADERSHIP.
And that creates a GREAT CULTURE.
When someone starts, I think there should be a predetermined 30, 60, or 90-day plan. This is different for every position in the company or organization.
Spend some time before you hire people and think about what that looks like.
When onboarding employees, I really love when companies adapt some type of education around personality profiles. It will surely give you a huge benefit in your hiring processes.
By using the DISC assessment, you would know how people think and how they're wired and see if they're a good fit for the position that you need.
What we're looking for is the right people in the right seats. You might find out that someone that you need to be very customer-centric. It's not really wired to be super social. On top of that, working with customers is not what they want to do. So you're going to set them and your company both up for failure, and it's not going to last very long. So using the DISC assessment has a huge benefit when added to the entire onboarding process.
Leadership and Culture - Growth
Professionals should be growth-minded. As an owner or CEO you should particularly be visionary. People who see a vision. People who see the future and where we're going and what we're doing are going to change that future for the company, for the employees, and for the clients.
We need to have a growth mindset.
When people come aboard your company, and they're looking to work for a leader, or for a great manager, they need to know about their personal growth path.
What does their future look like?
How are they going to be better?
How are they going to advance in their career?
Then, we tend to give them a promise that we have this opportunity, and this opportunity is about personal and professional growth as an employee, a manager, or an individual.
Now, the next question is what are the measurable advancements?
People can see how I advance. But how is it measurable?
You can’t just say that someone comes in, gets hired for the job, and works for 6 months, then gets a raise and promotion.
There should be a KPI or a Key Performance Indicator, a quantifiable measure of performance over time for a specific objective or target that you want your employees to hit at a particular period of time.
Besides that, doing so will also help you identify their strengths and weaknesses that you can use as your basis for how you’re going to help them improve even more.
People leave when they can't grow. But if someone is working for your company who is doing great work, training other people, taking ownership, and doing what other people want to do, then find a promotion that will best fit him or her.
People like to advance. So be good with promotions.
There's a belief that says if you over-promote people, they get lazy. No! They get lazy when you're not holding them accountable, and you allow them to get lazy. You promote people and tell them with this promotion will come more responsibility. Doing so will mean good leadership and good culture.
Employee retention is a big category. It's what we all need to really be working on right now because it's getting harder each and every time.
It gets very difficult to find great people who want to work in a skilled blue-collar trade industry. But we need to get our retention down. So everything that I've talked about before is getting you to this point they've been working for you.
We need to have a low turnover. A high turnover rate in your company is going to make other people leave.
Moreover, you need to get really good at hiring. Hire well. Don't just hire people in an instant because you think you’re short-handed. It’ll only end up not getting the right person for the position.
So just follow best practices on recruiting and talent acquisition, and I promise you, you will be among the top in your market.
Having an Open-Door Policy
I can't tell you how many people claim they have an open-door policy, but they really don't. It means they're not approachable.
Do you think that person is ever going to come to you with a new idea again? You should already be working on the things that are going wrong but in a constructive way.
I'm not saying this is easy. It’s hard.
You've got to be aware that your primary job is this. It's not you as the owner, being the estimator, being the technician, being the everything, the customer service, you can't do these things alone. So you've got to delegate.
Leaders don't blame. They train.
They don't blame people for doing things wrong. They blame themselves for not showing people how to do it right, or they blame themselves for letting people stick around after they've been trained, and they're not doing it well. These can be very visible and transparent.
When we, restoration advisors, will go to a site, or a company and spend a couple of days with your team, we help create an accountability chart with you and with your team. It always feels the same way.
It exposes a lot of people's weaknesses or terrible reputations or attitudes.
You do need to be accountable. But once they're made to be accountable, this is no longer the place they want to work. And that can upset some owners sometimes when they're already short-handed.
Moreover, having the right people in your company, they will pick up the slack, and do the work for that person that's out there. This is what you're responsible for and this is what you take ownership of.
Culture is having a great foundation in your company of reviews and performance evaluations.
You can put down there the 30, 60, and 90-day reviews. Have reviews of other managers that aren't in charge of that position, and do what we call skip-level.
Other people evaluate each other. People want to know how they are doing. Are they meeting the bar? Where is the bar?
So have a really good company that actually has that in place. You're going to actually sit down, have a formal review and evaluation, and discuss performance. Then, talk about what you can do to make the areas that are doing well and those that need improvement.
How can you score people on their company performance and their ability to do things in a quantifiable way?
Generally, the mind works in a mathematical way. So if you have a scorecard, you can easily see your progress or the evidence of how you became better a few months ago compared to your performance today.
So have a scorecard for that. Professional-type companies have great systems. These people are the ones that stay and help you build a big, luscious, and incredible company.
When designing a scorecard, always use metrics that are S.M.A.R.T.
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Attainable
R - Relevant
T - Time bound
You should always be training. But only have these if they are truly valuable.
I don't like meetings that don't get anywhere because that's a waste of money and time. And not all training applies to all people. This could be the office. This could be the field. It could be business development.
But have a training culture. Have a culture where people say that every single week, they go home and tell their parents, friends, spouse, and cousins that they love their job. Every week with training on something in there, they're preparing me to be an all-star in this field. That's what you want. That's a leadership company.
We get burnt out. By the time you notice someone's burned out, it's too late. You need to have a real work-life balance plan in your company and how to prevent that as much as possible.
We are in a physical, demanding, stressful industry. There's no denying that. I'm not talking about being strong enough to do it. People should know that when they come into it.
If they aren't up for this industry, then they shouldn't be working there in the first place. But if they are, and we're short-handed, we can't work people to the bone.
So dealing with the work-life balance for your team, you can ask these questions.
- How are you doing?
- Anything I can do to help you?
- Are you feel like you're getting things done?
- Are you good?
Whenever you notice that someone needs help, you can have any intervention or do something at your discretion that will best help them.
Reach out to us at www.restorationadvisers.com and let’s take the industry and your company back.
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