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Identifying Challenges to Change

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Business Advice

By identifying obstacles to change we can slowly work on making improvements to our business.  It’s like building a puzzle – you start with chaos and eventually move to order.  You can grow your business for sure…….but the question is are you becoming a better run business, and how quickly is this change happening if at all?

The Big Picture Mentality

Pick your Battles

Consider yourself at war in your business. You will not be able to win all the battles all the time, and you will need to make sacrifices along the way.  The ultimate goal is to achieve a peace dividend that will position your company to achieve further success. 

Problem

Imagine that you have three projects on the go & one of them is not going smoothly. Earlier in the year you purchased new business management software and are working on implementing it so your projects will run smoothly (this is a two year project). The question is can you make that project run better in the meantime? The answer is probably not.  You yourself would need to go out in the field to supervise the project; you would need to change the foreman (which you may not have enough of in your employ); you would need to improve your supply of material (some suppliers are more reliable than others); and you would need to change the client (who is the most indecisive client you have ever had). Add to that the weather is horrific.

This is a lethal combination of events that will generate guaranteed losses and much grief. 

Solution

Despite the fact that one of your jobs is going to hell in a hand basket, console yourself with the fact that two projects are going well. The changes you will make using tools like LMN’s budgeting and estimating system, added to the changes you will make to your client review process and your material and supplier choices, will guarantee you will have fewer problems next year because you will be addressing the sources of future problems.  It takes guts and vision to look past the immediate crisis and look at the big picture. Get through the tougher project, understand that you will lose some money on it, but recognize that next year will be better because of your changes.

The 4 Major Challenges to Change

1. People Challenges 

  • Habits – People avoid change because of the habits they have developed over a lifetime. For example, if your room is a mess at home your trucks and job sites will probably look the same too!
  • Skepticism – People are skeptical that changes will work. We are constantly bombarded by news of disappointing results in the media. Our elected representatives never seem to keep their promises…….We are opinionated about things we have little or no experience with.
  • Attitudes – Looking at the glass half full is important. Attitudes must be shifted toward the positive over time or else we will not be able to learn from our mistakes. We must give people the benefit of the doubt until we doubt the benefit.
  • Path of Least Resistance – People will follow the path of least resistance (just like water!) Most of us are looking for the silver bullet to solve our problems rather than make the hard choice and apply the true solution. 
  • Intellect – Some of us have higher IQs and different aptitudes. As an owner you may be the best installer of flagstone, but are you on top of your accounting?
  • Apathy – People can be apathetic when they’re not motivated or inspired about their work (“I am just here for my pay cheque”).
  • Frustration – People can become frustrated when they encounter an unexpected problem (e.g. Why won’t this work…we do not have enough information to do this). And you can get frustrated by giving them the information to solve it and they do not read it!
  • Broken Promises –The easiest person to cheat is yourself. Staying honest with yourself and your customers is the key to achieving responsible and sustainable growth and profitability.
  • Ignorance – People assume they know things or form opinions that are not based on fact (usually to reinforce their argument against making the effort to change).

2. Culture Challenges

Culture is the sum of all our behaviors and habits. There are many different types of cultures and even blends of cultures. 

Examples of Cultures

  • A military culture is tough and respectful.
  • Hospitals have a culture of caring and healing. 
  • Germany has a culture of order.
  • France has a culture of “Joie de Vivre!” (the joy of living). 

 Culture is critical if everyone intends to play on the same team with the same goals.

Examples of Poor Cultures

  • Blame Culture: Nothing can be fixed if you blame others.
  • Yelling Culture:  Kids eventually stop listening if you yell at them enough!
  • Culture of Turn-Over: People are not valued and are seen as a commodity.
  • It’s not my Job Culture.  People will not go outside their job description
  • Lateness is Okay! “It’s no big deal if I am late….we will just work later!”

3. Process Challenges

Processes are critical to enable a company’s employees to communicate using the same language, methods and paperwork so that predictable repeatable results can occur. Without process everyone would do what they want, when they want, on their own schedule, and using their own methods and crafted forms (chaos!). LMN offers hundreds of customizable processes and training courses that can help you eliminate this challenge at your company.

4. Time & Money Challenges

Most of us work 12 hour days and some of us work on weekends, which makes us believe we do not have the time or the money to make improvements. We think they are either too daunting, too costly, or sometimes unnecessary.

If we want to change the way we run our company for the better, our attitudes first need to change with respect to how we spend our time and money.

A Practical Example

If I took a day of work to go to a concrete course it would cost me $900.00 for the course + the $300.00 for the money I did not earn that day + the $300.00 opportunity cost as I am now  a day behind. That’s a $1,500.00 Cost. However, if I learned a tip at the course that will save me $1,000.00 three times per year then was it worth it? The answer is yes of course it was. The problem is most of us do not look at the intangible benefits of spending money to make money. Using our example you would be ahead by $1,500 the first year and $3,000 every year after that!

In summary, if you can learn to think strategically in running your business you will be able to work on the business rather that for the business, and – perhaps more importantly – you will be able to balance People, Culture, Process, Time and Money. By overcoming these challenges to change you can start the process of developing a well run profitable business that will liberate you emotionally, financially and at the same time give you freedom  to work less if you choose too.

You’re just one step away from better

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