When I owned a remodeling company, the words “No Problem!” were printed in huge letters on our shirts. That attitude summarizes Mark IV Builders today as we adapt to smaller jobs, a downsized staff, and the simple need for everyone to jump in to do whatever needs to be done.
With clients, we’re happy to do odds-and-ends jobs that we weren’t set up to do when our average job size was in the mid-six-figures. With production staff and tradespeople, I don’t snap at setbacks; everybody knows it’s a tough economy, and a big part of my job now is to keep my team positive.
For example, before Christmas, a superintendent accidentally broke a glass cooktop in half. I could have used this $385 error to make him fear losing his job — or feel this is a good place to work. We went over how it happened, how to replace the cooktop, and the upcoming holiday party, where he had a great time.
In the “no problem” approach:
Pause, read, react. As a baseball ump, I know to pause after the pitch, read what’s around me, and then call it a strike or a ball. Similarly, as a production manager, I know that I’m as likely to be wrong as right if I make the call before the ball crosses the plate.
Get dirty. I now tell my supers: “Be efficient, control your time, and get your hands dirty.” When jobs were bigger, I told them that job management was key. Now they know to take care of many small items themselves, rather than calling in a sub or a helper.
One-minute manager. I still issue reprimands if necessary, but there’s no point in laboring over problems, and no time for this anyway. I deal with problems quickly and concisely, then get everyone’s attitude back on the positive side.
—Andy Hannan is the production manager of Mark IV Builders, in Bethesda, Md.