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The Law of Process – Leadership for Contractors

Introduction to the Law of Process

Greetings!  Welcome back to our Leadership in Construction podcast.  Thanks for tuning in and taking this journey with us.

My name is Chris Jurin.  I am the CEO of Construct-Ed.  I am also a trainer with the John Maxwell Team.  In addition, I also serve as the president of a commercial roofing company as well as a roof consulting firm.

Those of us who have grown up in the microwave generation have a tendency to expect that we can get what we want immediately.  Why not?  If we can get our mac and cheese in a minute and thirty seconds then why shouldn’t we expect everything else in the world to come just as easy?  Think about it.  Prior generations would have to plan to go out and see a movie.  Now we can just pull up Netflix or go to On Demand and we can have our movies immediately.  We are a society that expects instant results.

While this mindset may work for us in some areas of life, there are other areas where the expectations of instant results are not only unrealistic but also damaging.  People have come to live for the destination and are failing to enjoy the journey.  The journey has become a nuisance in our lives.  This is a failure of respecting and practicing the Law of Process.

Explaining the Law of Process

why-publish-custom-certificationThe construction industry practices the Law of Process on a daily basis when it comes to its members conduct their projects.  Every construction project, whether it is building a new building or installing a new commercial roof or completing a home renovation, has a process that must be respected.

Companies, both contractors and product manufacturers, innovate and develop new methods and products for shortening the process.  But there is still a process that must be respected and honored in order to insure that a project is delivered with the end result in mind.  Disregard the process will only lead to a poorly constructed project.

Imagine if the process of building a new shopping mall was not honored.  Not only would the project not be completed on time and on budget, but the long term performance of the building would be compromised.

The Tay Bridge Disaster occurred on December 28, 1879.  The bridge was located in Dundee, Scotland.  On that fateful day, a train attempted to cross the bridge under high wind conditions.  The bridge collapsed as the train passed over killing all on board.  It turned out that the engineer who designed the bridge did not adjust the bridge design for wind loading.  The weather conditions that day combined with the live load of the train stressed the bridge beyond its capacity and caused the collapse.

There were many issues that lead to the collapse of the bridge.  Fingers were pointed and an in depth investigation was conducted to determine the cause of the collapse as well as to determine fault.  Many issues arose involving the design as well as the construction processes itself.

In short, the process of building the bridge from the design through the actual construction was flawed at many steps.  Causes for the bridge failure were noted as wind loading, poor design and poor quality control.

Ultimately, this was a failure of process.  The process for building a bridge was not honored and it led to a collapse of the structure and the death of the passengers on the train.

Just as the designers and builders for the bridge attempted to get around the process for building the bridge, many people attempt to build leadership skills in themselves and others without respect to the Law of Process.

Building an Understanding of the Law of Process in Construction

why-publish-train-employeesIn the book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, the author John Maxwell discusses the Law of Process.  He offers an outline of how the leadership growth process works.  Let’s take a few minutes to look at how this works in the construction industry.

  1. Phase 1 – I Don’t Know What I Don’t KnowThis is the beginning stage for everyone.  This is also one of the most frustrating levels for leaders and managers.  Someone who does not know what they do not know is difficult to teach.  They are the know-it-all that is so unaware that they think they know everything that there is to know.There is an old saying that can be modified for the workplace.  It goes something like “When I started working I could not believe how stupid my boss was.  And I cannot believe how much he learned after 5 years of me working for him.”We have all been in a position where someone thinks that they know better.  It is a level of ignorance and as they say – ignorance is bliss.At this level – challenge followers by asking them to determine their strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Phase 2 – I Know That I Need To KnowNow we are getting somewhere.  This is where the individual starts to wake up!  This is when you can start to get through to someone as they are now open to the fact that they may not know everything that they need to know.But, what do they need to know.  They get a sense that they are missing something important, but they don’t know what the step is.  This may occur when they have been a part of the crew and they see everyone else working, but they feel that they are left out of the project.  This is a critical step that leaders must be aware of so that they can look for opportunities to teach new concepts.At this level – ask followers to identify those areas where they need to improve to be more effective.
  3. Phase 3 – I Know What I Don’t Know
    This is an ahh hah moment!  All of a sudden the team member comes to an awareness of what they don’t know and they want to learn about it.  They are now fully awake and they see what they need to know if order to grow in their position.This is the new member of your crew or company who realizes that in order to grow into their position that they have to learn a new skill.  The skill may be leadership.   It may simply be that they need to learn a specific trade skill like how to solder a joint in plumbing.This realization creates a great opportunity for a teaching moment.  As a leader of a construction company or a crew or department, these are the moments that you need to be aware of so that you can take full advantage.  Letting these slip by has a huge cost for the companyAt this level – ask your followers to outline what they need to know and how they are going to learn it.
  4. Phase 4 – I Know and Grow and It Starts to ShowThis is an exciting time within the growth pattern for a growing leader.  Everyone likes to be known for something that fellow team members respect them for.  They want to be able to showcase their skills, especially new ones.In the book, Ken Blanchard offers the concept of the one minute praise as a method for managing employees.  At the Phase 4 level, it is important to recognize your team members for their improved and newly learned skills.  Give them the affirmation that they are looking for by complimenting them on their skills.By enforcing their accomplishments with praise, you are letting them know that you want to see more growth in them so that they can contribute to the team.At this level – ask your followers to practice their skills and show them off.
  5. Phase 5 – I Simply Go Because of What I KnowThis final phase of growth is when a team member’s actions are automatic.  This is when muscle memory takes over and the accomplishments are almost automatic.  In construction, this level is achieved when a technician is capable of completing a complex detail almost on auto-pilot.We all have encountered highly skill craftsmen who can do amazing things in a way where it is almost as if they are not giving any thought to it.  We have seen leaders who have an amazing ability to impact others on project sites with a perceived natural ability.  They have learned their craft so well that they now can show others and lead the process.At this level – challenge Phase 5 level leaders to mentor and grow others.

Conclusion

why-publish-save-timeThe day-to-day pressures of being in the construction industry can affect a leader’s level of patience with regards to the processes that are needed to grow others into effective team members.  Pressures to meet budgets and timelines can override the Law of Process.  Team member attitudes can also take away from the desire to want to train and build others.

It is important to remember the Tay Bridge and realize the similarity between building leaders and building a construction project.  Projects do not reach completion overnight.  There is a process.  And if you attempt to rush the process, the long-term effects on performance can be devastating.

Allow time for leaders and team members to grow.  Allow them to proceed through the process of becoming leaders and highly skilled craftsmen.  You cannot rush the process any faster than you can do it effectively.

The opposite risk is true as well – being careful not to allow anyone on the journey to become arrested or trapped at any level.  Sometimes through no fault of their own, individuals on the journey can get derailed.  Make sure that they are continuing on their growth journey.  Challenge them to grow past their current position.

why-publish-free-elearning-solutionI encourage you to sign up for a free Construct-Ed account to learn more about leadership and how it can improve your business’s ability to grow and compete in the market.

Please feel free to leave comments below or ask any questions regarding leadership.  

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