0414: Leading Contractors Successfully Through Major Organizational Change


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By Randal DeHart and Randal DeHart | Construction Accountant |PMP | QPA. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
This Podcast Is Episode Number 414, And It's About Leading Contractors Successfully Through Major Organizational Change

We are all currently experiencing and adapting to present pandemic times. We've probably adjusted our business model to cater to our clients, new and existing. Construction business change is almost always a good thing, but often poor management means that the workforce becomes disengaged and the change process painful. In the worst cases, this results in irreparable damage being done.

It doesn't need to be this way. Follow these steps and empower yourself to lead your contractors through significant organizational change successfully.

1. Understand the change

Make sure you understand precisely what is changing and how it affects your people. Speak to whomever you need to ascertain this properly. You need to know what the impact is on your people and the jobs they do.

Educating yourself will mean you're better equipped to communicate with your staff. It will give them confidence that you are the right person to lead them into the unknown. It will also relieve their anxieties, as they will trust you to keep them informed and look after their individual and collective interests.

2. Communicate effectively

Regular and varied communication is essential in managing change. Initial briefings to employees should be face to face, with adequate time set aside to prepare beforehand.

They should be delivered by an appropriately senior manager who also has excellent presentation skills and a natural delivery style. The audience needs to be engaged, not alienated. In the future, set up a recognized channel that will control information flow on daily developments.

This could be an online micro-site or a newsletter or bulletin. Ensure the tone and language are upbeat and that the positive messages the business wants to promote about the change are a recurring theme. You should consult with your marketing team for advice on how to do this effectively.

3. Consult with your people

Consult staff on their views and provide clear channels for those opinions to be received. Consider providing an email address to receive questions, or if you have set up a micro-site, set up a message board that allows for questions and answers to be posted online.

It is equally important to ensure you are responding swiftly to those questions. It's a good idea to set up and publish an FAQ list, preventing answering the same question multiple times. This will also help inform the content of future communications through understanding the hot topics.

Ultimately, the change may be mandatory and not open to amendment, but even if this were true, communication must still be a two-way street. If you don't demonstrate an active interest in employees' views, you risk an outright mutiny.

4. Use your champions

Identify the characters in your team that are positive about the change, and pick out one or two popular to hold or sway over their teammates. These are your wingmen, and it's essential you tap into that resource early. Get them on the side and meet with them regularly. Explain the critical role they have to play in helping others to stay upbeat.

As well as being a supportive and positive voice amongst the people, they are also your eyes and ears, in a position of trust with colleagues. This means they will pick up on potential concerns or flashpoints early and bring these to your attention in confidence.

Your champions will play a pivotal role in supporting managers; positive voices from the populace are invaluable.

5. Control the dissenters

The negative voices in your team are often the loudest and most influential. You will have several people in your organization who are confused or undecided about how they feel about the change. They are susceptible to being convinced by your team's detractors, who will attempt to rally them to their cause. If all those sitting on the fence jump off on the wrong side, your life will worsen. Don't let that happen.

Target those dissenting staff members and speak to them individually. Show empathy and understanding of their concerns but explain their colleagues' impact on their negativity's open expressions. Try to get them involved in meetings, taking an active role in being a critical but objective voice.

But ultimately, if their views are extreme and it's clear they intend to persist being a disruptive influence, then take a hard line. Tell them their behavior is not acceptable and could lead to disciplinary action on the grounds of their conduct.

6. Maintain the business

Don't let your team lose focus on their day-to-day responsibilities and the running of the construction business. There will inevitably be some impact on productivity during a major change. However, there is a limit to this, and staff needs to be reminded that their traditional roles and responsibilities remain. Plan briefings and communications to minimize the impact on your resources, and by extension, your customers.

7. Toe the line

A lack of professionalism and objectivity of managers can spell disaster. Even if you feel that the business change is fundamentally wrong or concerns your seniors' judgment, you must not reveal this. You need to maintain the party line and express the changes in favorable, objective terms.

Discuss your concerns with others you trust in the business if you need a sounding board, but be very careful whom you confide in.

8. Manage outside influences

The change may attract outside attention from the local or national press or pressure groups. This might happen if your organization is huge, in the public sector, or a regulated or contentious industry. In these cases, you also need to be aware of the effect of these outside agencies' activities on your employees. You can rarely exercise much control over external media, but you can make sure your finger is on the pulse. This will allow you to react quickly if an external event occurs that's likely to cause disruption or concern.

Final thoughts

Change doesn't have to be stressful and unpredictable, providing you to plan and stay in control. The key to success is keeping your construction employees bought into the objectives and engaged with the change mechanics. Following these steps will ensure you do that and allow you to successfully lead people unscathed through even the most major organizational change.

About The Author:

Sharie DeHart, QPA is the co-founder of Business Consulting And Accounting in Lynnwood, Washington. She is the leading expert in managing outsourced construction bookkeeping and accounting services companies and cash management accounting for small construction companies across the USA. She encourages Contractors and Construction Company Owners to stay current on their tax obligations and offers insights on how to manage the remaining cash flow to operate and grow their construction company sales and profits so they can put more money in the bank. Call 1-800-361-1770 or sharie@fasteasyaccounting.com

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