May 17

Championing Change

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Who in a contracting firm is responsible for making
change happen?

Is it up to the C.E.O. to instigate improvements and innovation? Is there really only one person per company charged with this task? What about the bright new minds of young managers and apprentices? These are people who view the company through eyes that have not been influenced by years of doing things “the way they’ve always been done.” It is important to bring these fresh ideas and new thoughts forward. The people who are most likely to come up with creative and innovative changes are the people who are involved daily with the tasks that form the basis of how a company operates.

These front-line employees can be overlooked and
their voices can be easily silenced if there is a lack of encouragement among the more seasoned staff. The solution is to foster an environment of communication in the workplace, but this is difficult. The real answer lies with the employees that have innovative ideas for change. If you have good ideas, don’t take no for an answer. If you have a good idea for change, you need to champion it obsessively. Talk to everyone about your idea, bring it forward every chance you get and present it to anyone you can.

The industry can’t wait for wholesale changes to be driven
down from the top; we need the answers immediately—and
you have them. Don’t be discouraged if your boss laughs at
your idea.

All of the books and blogs and magazine articles target the
leaders of companies with advice and methods for driving
change. What about the multitude of employees in companies
where the leaders are not listening? Make them listen. Keep
making your case. The changes and improvements that you
are pondering and wishing for are the way forward for our
industry and we need them. Desperately.

I recall one instance where I had to make a case for what I
considered was an essential piece of new technology. With a
$3,000 price tag, my boss was not going to spring for it easily—but I
believed in the advantages with a passion and kept at the argument
for over six months. I put forward cost projections showing
the return on the investment. I documented the pros and cons.
I was a pest, and in the end I got what I wanted. What was the
essential new technology? One of the first fax machines.

The industry can’t wait for wholesale changes to be driven
down from the top; we need the answers immediately—and
you have them. Don’t be discouraged if your boss laughs at
your idea. Unless you are presented with a clear and convincing
argument as to why your idea won’t work, keep on pushing for
it. Find a way to try it out. If it fails, then you can accept that
it was a dumb idea; otherwise, keep on plugging. If you look
at some of the most incredible advances in history you will
invariably find that they started as a “dumb” idea.

Push for Change

How can you position yourself to best present your ideas? If
you have worked to develop a reputation for doing great work
and going above and beyond, your voice will be heard. If you
are the one who shows up every day with a grin on his or her
face and display a passion for what you do that is infectious,
your voice will carry. Stay away from the water cooler and treat
negative thinking as the disease that it is. If you think that you
are being mistreated and underappreciated, take a look in the
newspapers.

A positive attitude is a habit, one that can change the world.
The most important thing that anyone can do for themselves
is to go to work to learn and to grow. If you are keeping your
ideas to yourself for fear that someone else will get the credit,
or are waiting for the right time to present them so that you
can advance your career or improve your bonus, you are on
the wrong track. Selflessness is a prerequisite to success.

People want to hear what is right about your company; not
what is wrong. Innovation and change is not always about fixing
something; it can be just as important to take something
that seems okay and turn it into something extraordinary.

Understanding all aspects of how an organization functions
is vital to being able to fulfill each part. The age-old battle that
continues to rage between estimating and project management
would fade and die out if either side took a harder look at the
big picture.

One position that I filled in the past involved estimating
projects and then coordinating them through the construction
phase. That situation led me to many heated discussions with
myself, but left me with a deeper understanding of how the
two positions rely on each other.

Solutions to problems that have plagued companies for
eons present themselves when the players look beyond their
own domain. Even when change and innovation are driven
from the upper levels of a company, the ultimate success of any
initiatives are dependent upon the individual taking ownership
and becoming engaged.

There are ten two letter words that sum it up; “If it is to be,
it is up to me.”


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