May 2013: Business Building


altBusiness Building

Ever feel like the more you do yourself, the less you get done? Most business owners work far too hard for the return they get. They have too many details to handle and not enough time to focus on the big things that make them the most money. See how you operate by taking this true/false test:

Does My Business Work Without Me?

___     I make most of the day-to-day business decisions
___ ¬†¬† ¬†I can’t find any accountable or responsible help
___     I do the hiring, firing, purchasing, pricing and sales
___     I like to be in control and in charge
___ ¬†¬† ¬†It’s easier to do it myself than to delegate or train
___     I work more hours than do my managers
___     I feel guilty when I leave work early
___     I never have enough time to do what I want to do
___     Customers call me on most important issues
___ ¬†¬† ¬†My people don’t make decisions without asking me
___ ¬†¬† ¬†My business won’t work without me

How’d you do? Does your business work without your making all the decisions and doing all the important work? Each true answer is an area for improvement and an indicator of what you must do differently to get better results. Your people want to do great work, be accountable and make good decisions, but something or someone is holding them back.

Are you getting a return on your energy?

As a business owner or manager, you need to get a huge return on your time. Every year, my company strived to complete $50 million in commercial construction. I don’t have time to sweat the small stuff. But, to get it all done, I must be able to delegate the work.

What are you responsible for?

___     Hiring, firing and personnel issues
___     Purchasing materials, tools and equipment
___     Awarding subcontracts and negotiating change orders
___     Marketing, sales, proposals and estimating
___     Project management and job meetings
___     Scheduling crews and subcontractors
___     Approving bills, invoicing and collecting

Look in the mirror

You name it: If it has to be done, you do it – often until the wee hours of the night. Ever realize the more you do, the less you accomplish? Doing everything for everyone stunts your company’s growth. Take a look at the items you checked. Which areas can you let go, delegate and train? All it takes is good systems and controls with regular feedback.

Perhaps what’s holding your company back is you, as you attempt to make every decision, do too much yourself, and control everything and everybody. Take a hard look at your management style. Are you holding your people back from accepting responsibility and being accountable? When you make every decision for them, they won’t take responsibility. When you fix their problems, they aren’t accountable. When you control and lead every meeting, they can’t grow. When you make or approve every purchase, contract and strategy, your people don’t have to think or be their best. When you don’t take time to train, your people won’t get better.

Don’t control, let go

Think about the last time you took a vacation, and your people had to make decisions on their own. Isn’t it amazing how things get done without your constant input? When you operate in an environment of high control, you get low performance from your people. And, when you trust people to do their best without your constant supervision using a low control approach, you get high performance.

Many controlling and stressed-out business owners and managers often say to employees, “Please handle this, but just don’t make any decisions without checking with me first.” When you try to delegate like this, you really haven’t delegated or let go of responsibility. You can’t be partially responsible. When you solve your people’s problems, they bring you more problems to solve. Are you wearing a sign around my neck that says, “Bring me your problems?” This makes you feel large and in charge, while overall performance slides backward.

If in doubt, delegate

When a project owner calls you about a field problem, do you immediately handle it yourself and get right back to him? Try listening politely, and then turn your customer over to your project manager or superintendent to take care of the situation. When it’s time to award a major subcontract or a large material purchase, do you get right into the middle of negotiations? Instead, ask your project manager to review all the bids, analyze the scope of work, and discuss any questions he may have with you. Then, have him award the order to the lowest responsible qualified bidder without your final approval.

When a superintendent or foreman asks you to call a problem subcontractor or supplier who isn’t performing on a job, do you make the call for him? When I get a similar request from a field superintendent or foreman, this is an indicator that I have a weak employee who can’t get subcontractors to perform without help from the office. This is not acceptable. When you have to make the tough phone calls, you are letting your people off the hook and not making them perform their job responsibilities.

By getting your head out of the ditch, your results can be incredible: higher profit doing less, more loyal customers, and employees who love to work for your company. You can build a great place to work where people can grow, take responsibility and be accountable to meet your company goals. To get started delegating, email for your copy of a BIZ-Builder Org Chart! The only way to grow is to let go. What will you let go?

George Hedley is a licensed, professional business coach, popular professional speaker and best-selling author of “Get Your Business to Work!” and “The Business Success Blueprint For Contractors,” available at his online bookstore. He works with business owners to build profitable growing companies. Email to request your free copy of “Winning Ways To Win More Work!” or sign up for his free monthly e-newsletter. To hire George to speak, be part of his ongoing BIZCOACH program, or join one of his ongoing Roundtable Peer BIZGROUPS, call 800-851-8553 or visit

George Hedley, HARDHAT Presentations

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