TAKE YOUR COMPANY FAR WITH "SLOW IS SMOOTH, SMOOTH IS FAST"
Updated: Apr 9
How to drastically improve your company's productivity by taking things slower.
Snipers and many other types of combatants have many procedures and plans of action, such as kicking down doors, reloading weapons, acquiring targets and so on. They train it so much that they can practically perform each action with their eyes closed under flying bullets and falling bombs, never missing a step in the process.
The questions are: Why and How? Why they have to do it so meticulously? And how do they still perform it even under extreme circumstances?
In this article you will understand how having rock-solid procedures will improve your life as an individual as well as your company's profitability in the long term.
LET'S IMAGINE A SITUATION:
A sergeant who makes his way into a city that is being stormed by enemy soldiers. As he progresses through the streets, he hears a woman screaming inside a building. He assumes she is attacked, so he decides to act fast.
He quickly gathers two soldiers under his command and kicks down the door. As soon as the three of them walk in, they get sprayed with bullets and before realising they have walked into an ambush, all three of them are dead.
End of story.
NOW TELL ME, WHAT WENT WRONG?
They did not follow the standard operating procedures and acted without thinking.
They did not surround the building and they did not assume the proper breach and entry positions. More so, they did not throw a flash-bang grenade in. The sergeant just heard screams and his imagination of what was going on inside overrode the necessity of following the proper, exact procedures. Therefore, the result has been a catastrophe.
Due to the death of their comrades and superior, the morale of the troops dropped and fear spread among them. The captain had to gather all the soldiers for another briefing about a new and safer approach. The progress got slower while the enemy looted the town, which took an extra month to be secured.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS:
If the sergeant and the soldiers had taken it slower, the town would have been secured faster.
This is exactly the translation of the saying:
"SLOW IS SMOOTH, SMOOTH IS FAST"
Of course, this is an extreme and tragic example of something that we all face every day: Workers not following procedures or companies not enforcing procedures.
Along my time in the industry I've worked for many different companies. Some more organised, some less. I can honestly say that as a company grows to become more professional, more systems are invented and it makes all the difference when it comes to it's profitability and overall professionalism.
Without further do, here's a few examples of the simplest procedures that could "slow down" your work, but save huge amounts of time and money for Construction Companies and Labour Hire Companies.
CHECKLISTS AND MORE CHECKLISTS
Consider "trigger" a situation or a milestone that when happens leads to the execution of a checklists. For example: The starting of a new job may trigger the "pre-start checklists". A week start may trigger the "Mondays checks lists" and so on, like the acquiring of a new client, the end of the quarter, etc. Think of triggers for yourself and company that makes sense with your day to day activities.
It goes without saying that checklists are important not only for your professional life, but for your personal life as well. You and I know how helpful it is to have a checklist for travelling, for example, which you can use to go through the items making sure you've got everything without having to think about every single item in the list over and over. However, most managers fail to create them and most workers fail to use them.
Pro tip here: Don't fail.
Checklists are really important and having it as a habit can do wonders for your company. For a better understanding of its importance and a dose of inspiration we suggest this video ->
Possible checklists you can implement:
Pre-start checklist: Check if you have everything that takes to get the job done Pre-delivery checklist: For knowing that everything is as supposed to.
Tools/gear checklists: to make sure you've got everything. (The tools checklist can be attached to toolboxes)
End of the financial year checklist: Does your workers have enough shirts? Is there any expensive gear waiting to be bought? Want to hire a freelancer for a new website or a marketing specialist?
HAVE A TO-DO POOL - IN REAL TIME
This is pretty straight forward.
You are a human being. As you live life, at work or not, ideas (like new items for one of your checklists) may come into your head about how to make things easier for yourself and your company. You and your team must have a way to take notes of these ideas as they come and share between each other. That could be a to-do list software or at least online chat. The idea here is to constant share insights and ways to improve so you never have one life saving insight being forgotten. We will suggest software to help you out with this later in this article
DO TIME TRACKING
Time is money - you heard it before. If the bookkeeping is done well, you know where your money went down to the penny (Online banking did wonders for us in that sense), but why you don't do the same with your time? Tracking how you (and your team) is spending their time is necessary for a better understanding where it could be slower so it could be faster. Here's some examples of questions that you may ask:
How much time does pre-start takes?
How much time is being wasted due to poor communication?
How long are you wasting in low-value activities?
How long is transportation taking?
Tracking the time for these things (and many others) may give you a better understanding of how much money is being drained out of your bank account in form of wasted time. Use this data to guide your decisions regarding the implementation of new systems, procedures, delegation or even employing more people.
MAKE USE OF TECHNOLOGY
Making things tangible are a must. You need to have the data in paper or online for you to be able to check it instead of keeping it in your head only (by the way, your head is terrible in keeping this sort of data). There are many apps that can do that and make your communication with your workers smoother, your projects easier to manage and your checklists easier to access.
Here's some FREE software that we recommend - And links do download them:
Whatsapp: Perfect for talking with all your workers individually and as a group. it also lets you share pictures and shows if your messages were read or not.
Google sheets: Its exactly like Microsoft Excel, but can be edited online for all your team members. We suggest you create a table with Allows you do SEE your processes as projects. Just by seeing it you will have a way better track of it and will diminish the chances of you forgetting anything.
Here's a example of our articles creation process:
Microsoft to-do list: Its our favourite to-do list/checklists App. You can create multiple lists, share with your workers in real time and reuse your checklists multiple times. We suggest you sharing the lists with all your workers and supervisors so nothing gets forgotten next time.
eTimeLogger: Time tracking app that will give you a great view of how long each task is taking. I've tracked myself (every activity) for a month and discovered many points that were "leaking" my time. This app is perfect for you to base your decisions on.
ENFORCE UNTIL IT'S A HABIT
Habits take 60 days to be created. Discipline is nothing more than the power of will for creating habits without quitting half way. Keep that in mind when implementing new procedures for your team and for yourself. It may be painful in the begging, but after a new habit is "installed", keeping it up is quite easy.
You can do this before your workers start any new or significant job on the site.It may seem a “waste of time” but it would save you valuable resources in the future,
like man-hours, time, money and why not, your nerves.
Even if our or your workers are already skilled and qualified, do not rely on your assumptions and do not skip any important details. When applying them in your construction project, take your time and make sure all the people involved know what to do. Above all, we are all human beings and our brain does not work as a computer. The systems are here to make our life easier.
Here's a video that will help you how to understand how to create habits. It's a good first step before you implement them in your company:
NOW DON'T LET THEM KILL YOU
OK, now lets make a U turn before you get overexcited. More is not always better. Even though most construction companies do not have enough procedures and systems (Specially the small and medium size ones) We know of big companies that have so many methods, down to the most specific things, that they tangle themselves in, causing them to be TOO SLOW in taking action/making decisions.
The one thing to keep in mind is that balance will always be the key and efficiency and creativity are both important in the long term. Workers must be empowered to take action
Your workers MUST be included, or at least share their opinions, in the creation of these systems and you must always leave the door open for improvements and adaptions with one thing in mind: Balance.
These gave you simple examples of how to make your operations leaner and rise your company's efficiency. We suggest you to constantly evaluate how to implement new systems and techs that will make your life easier in the long run and always. ALWAYS. Think long term.
You know what else takes you far? Being good at sharing responsibilities and authority. Learn more about the art of delegation by clicking here