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Construction subcontractors tend to be more like Aerosmith than like an airline. What exactly do I mean? Well to further the analogy, let’s look at the definition of both of these entities.

Rock bands are made of a small group of talented people that perform specific functions. As the band forms it is not a big secret what each person is to do, however, there are not written rules on how this is done, it just happens. On the other hand airlines are a collection of people where before someone is hired every task required and prerequisite needed is well defined. When something goes right or wrong there are volumes of procedures to review to see if the failure was caused by a procedure itself or the adherence to it.

Given these definitions, it may become clear what kind of company you have and I would bet there are more rock band construction companies than there are airline construction companies. In my opinion this is not a good thing. Good rock bands have the right chemistry, energy, and talent to make it big, but usually not for long. So much of the success is laid at the feet of each performer to do their job (without an overall guidance) that it will inevitably fail. People change over time. Their personal life, health, goals, position, and talent are constantly changing. Is Metallica is a better band today than they were 25 years ago? How about Nirvana? Nirvana is a great example because the band's image was tied to Kurt Cobain's image. When he was dealt a tragedy, so was the band. Is your company in a similar position?

If your company was configured more like an airline there would be procedures for everything. This would ensure that the organization is dictating the way business is being done and no individual will destroy the company or its performance. I know firsthand that too many procedures have an adverse effect on productivity, but this should not be a reason to allow each member to "do their job the best that they see fit". This may work for a while, like a young rock band, but as people change or people turnover, the company will be put into chaos.

By creating a consistent way of doing things in your company and having procedures that people are held accountable to, you will create a better business. It will allow your top people that were doing everything right to begin with to perform more efficiently. They can utilize more of their time in critical and analytical tasks. Managers will be able to receive constant performance across several people and departments. New hires can be matched to positions that will work the best and be trained in way you perform work.  Every employee will know what to do and what is expected of them.  Most critically, when something goes wrong (bad bid, bad projections, safety incidents, etc.), you will be able to review the procedures to find if it is a procedural issue or if someone didn't follow the procedure.

Take some time and think if your company is Aerosmith or an airline. It makes a huge difference in performance for today and the ability for the enterprise to continue forever.

About the Author

Craig Pierce

Craig Pierce has been working in the construction industry for the past 25 years helping subcontractors master their trade. Currently he is President of Atalanta Enterprises which provides consulting services to contractors And software solutions through ConstructionMonkey.com.