Bring Back Relationship
Wow, last month’s newsletter really struck a nerve. It seems that I am not the only person who felt that we need to bring the fun back into our industry. We received more comments on this matter than all of the previous newsletters combined. ALL were in agreement that the fun factor had been run out of the construction business. The best part though, was everyone also felt that they could and would contribute to bringing the fun back.
In my opinion, a lot of the fun left our industry with the advances in technology, more specifically, the communication technology – starting with personal computers and continuing through today with iPads and iPhones. Don’t get me wrong, I am not an old curmudgeon who longs for days past. I love the speed, accuracy, and accountability the new technology brings to our industry. I just do not feel that this should be THE ONLY form of communication between parties in the construction industry.
The construction industry has always been a relational industry. People build relationships with those they like to work with and can trust. In the past several years the industry, with the help of communication technology, seems to have moved from a relational industry to more of a transactional industry. When people only communicate via texts and email, relationships don’t evolve nearly as well or as strong as when there has been personal contact between the individuals. Bids, contracts, and projects then become relegated to just merely transactions between two entities. I believe that this is where we have lost some of the fun in our industry. Relationships, built over time produce mutual respect and trust, whereby difficult situations can be resolved to the benefit of all parties. Relationships allow all parties to feel secure that someone understands their concerns, risks, and fears, and that they are committed to work to alleviate these concerns. Transactional deals by contrast are viewed as “one and done” transactions. Most situations are resolved in a win-lose manner with little or no regard for all parties involved, often to the detriment of the project itself. These projects are definitely no fun to be a part of.
As winter turns to spring, the construction industry heads into “National Convention” and local “Association Event” season. The AGC, ASA, and AWCI are having their National conventions in the next several weeks in Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Las Vegas respectively. Locally, the AGC Annual Reception and ASA Awards Gala are also on the horizon. These are great events to start to develop or continue to expand relationships with your customers and peers.
When I was growing up in the industry, it was a privilege and an honor to “be allowed to attend” these events. It was a chance to renew old relationships and start to develop new ones in a setting that was more social than work place. This is where trust and bonds were started, and they were further developed over time through jobsite performance. Unfortunately, now it seems that some of us view these events as an inconvenient interruption to our lives, and we do not see the value in attending since we are in a “transactional business environment”. As industry leaders, we have to make sure all of our people understand the value of developing relationships (both personal and professional). Then we may see a return to a more relational construction industry built on trust, respect, skills and ability. Then the fun returns.
We at TJ Wies Contracting are committed to not only membership in local and national associations, but also to be actively involved. I invite all of you to do the same. See you at the next event!
Thanks for reading and until next month, work safe, work hard and HAVE FUN!