Principles of Management for Uncertain Times

We are in the midst of economic uncertainty, and no one can accurately predict how long this crisis will last and what the long-term ramifications from this crisis will be. The only certainty is that the business practices that we have relied on for decades will require change. That means that business management philosophies must be altered to meet the forthcoming challenges.

The current business environment will require managers at every level to provide the leadership necessary to navigate the organization through the impending economic turmoil. A competent manger must always possess certain key traits to be an effective leader, such as accountability, confidence, and integrity. In these challenging times, a manager must also be organized and maintain the skills necessary to supervise and direct employees in an effort to advance the implemented goals and strategies of the organization by communicating effectively and engaging in conflicts productively.

Managers must provide the leadership required to facilitate the required organizational change. There are six leadership traits that are essential to managing through change in uncertain times:

1. Ethics

2. Communication

3. Involvement

4. Spirit

5. Flexibility

6. Vision of the future

Ethics

Business ethics is by definition “the moral standards by which a company conducts itself.” The company’s leaders and managers have a personal obligation to conduct themselves and the organization’s business practices in an ethical manner. Companies with unethical business practices have lined the front page of the nation’s newspapers in the last decade, perhaps none bigger than Enron and Arthur Anderson, whose demise can be directly attributed to unethical practices of top management. In some respects, the current global economic crisis has been propagated by unethical business schemes.

Business ethics is divided into three equally important categories: non-discretionary, organization specific, and discretionary.

Non-discretionary ethics includes universal items that allow for zero tolerance if they are violated. These include laws and regulations, public and employee safety, and truthfulness in financial statements.

Organization-specific ethics involves policies and procedures that the organization adopts as the ethical standards that cannot be compromised. The organization’s ethical standards should be clearly defined in the employee manual and referenced in its mission statement. It is the responsibility of all personnel to be familiar with these standards. It is management’s responsibility to ensure that these standards are upheld throughout the organization. Furthermore, management should enforce a no-tolerance policy for unethical behavior.

Discretionary ethics typically involve those issues that are not necessarily illegal or against the organization’s standards; however, they may still be perceived as unethical actions. The manager must set the organizational standard by acting in a fair and honest manner in all business dealings. Telling a “white lie” to close a sale is an example of discretionary ethics. Typically, these are issues that have to be conducted at a personal level. Asking such questions as “Will you be comfortable and guilt-free from your behavior in this matter?” or, “Does this behavior match stated guarantees or commitments?” could go a long way in determining the proper ethical response.

The best way to help ensure ethical conduct is through focusing on the three R’s: respect, responsibility, and results.

1. Respect. Respect is required at all levels of the organization, both internally and externally. Obviously, respect is required on a personal level and should be granted to all co-workers, customers, and vendors by treating them with dignity and courtesy. Respect for the organization and the work environment is equally as important. All members of the organization can protect the work environment by following the established rules and regulations regarding use of equipment and materials and by using organizational time effectively. Using equipment for non-organizational activities or taking office supplies (“because everybody does it”) is disrespectful and unethical. It is also unethical for an employee to spend large amounts of time on non-organizational activities during work time, such as updating social media accounts or managing fantasy sports teams. These are activities that should be completed in moderation during work breaks or at lunchtime.

2. Responsibility. It is the responsibility of all members of the organization to provide timely and high-quality goods and services to the customers. The community’s perception of the organization should be that they would uphold and follow through with all commitments in a legal manner. In simple terms business dealings should be completed by looking a person in the eye, making an agreement, and having trust that the agreement will be completed to the best of the organization’s abilities.

Each member of the organization has the personal responsibility of working collaboratively with others and ensuring that their work performance adds value to the organization and meets the expectations of management.

3. Results. Results are the measurement in which the organization is evaluated. Ethical results are only achieved when an organization derives them in legal and moral manners. Most unethical behavior in business occurs by falsifying results — typically by providing false financial statements. This was certainly the case in two of the biggest business collapses of the last decade — Enron and Arthur Andersen. To some extent lending institutions that falsified their results started the current economic crises that we are entangled in.

It is the responsibility of management to define the organization’s ethical standards and to ensure that all unethical practices will not be tolerated. It is the responsibility of the employee to follow the ethical standards and maintain personal responsibility for their actions. Ethical behavior can be achieved by following these five maxims that are important in all phases of our lives:

1. Don’t take what is not yours.

2. Don’t accept what you have not earned.

3. Maintain confidentiality.

4. Be honest.

5. Don’t bend the rules to get results.

Communication

Communication is key to success in any organization, and an effective leader must be a good communicator. It is even more critical in uncertain times that management keeps an open line of communication with the employees, customers, and vendors. Constant communication is vital in providing all essential information regarding the organization. The message must be articulated in a manner that is clear and understandable to everyone.

The message must be consistent at all levels of the organization, and studies indicate that repetition is often required for understanding. The most effective leaders are open and honest in all communications. Uncertainty can make it difficult to access the right direction in the business environment. Effective leaders will present their vision of the future with honesty and humility, and simply level with people by acknowledging there are limitations in forecasting future trends and that the current strategies may change. Honesty and transparency will earn creditability from all levels of the organization. This will go a long way in gaining the employees’ trust.

An effective communicator is also an excellent listener. It is important that communication flows at every level of the organization. Some of the best intelligence that you gather will be from frontline employees who interact with customers and suppliers. Their feedback can be valuable in determining the existing business climate and developing future strategy. It is also important that you listen to any ideas they may have in improving operations. By asking for their opinions (and implementing their ideas when they make business sense), it can not only lead to cost-saving procedures but it will also elevate the employees’ commitment to the organization.

The flow of information can be provided in various forms. The most effective method is through staff meetings. When change is fluid, it is imperative that meetings be held more frequently. Depending on the size of the organization and the speed of change in the business climate, it may be required to meet on a weekly basis.

Exchanging information on methods, initiatives and processes will benefit the organization. This can be accomplished through internal forums that state the organization’s goals and benefits. It is important to provide internal and external stakeholders with timely updates regarding the organization’s progress in reaching these goals. Communication can be provided through the regular maintenance of intranet and internet sites that also provide the organization’s policies, procedures, points of contact and other resource information for employees, customers and vendors. The best workforce is an informed workforce.

Involvement

Due to the rapid changes occurring in the business world, it is no longer permissible for company leaders to sit in their “ivory towers” and manage through delegation. The managers must make themselves available to every level of the organization to obtain all relevant information concerning performance. An effective manger must jump right into the game; this is not the time to sit on the sidelines and watch. Nothing can be accomplished by managing from the outside.

A prime function of involvement is to ensure a continuous focus of the organization’s operations. This can be accomplished through a series of meetings with senior management and specially assigned task groups. Senior management personnel should conduct quarterly meetings to review strategies and ensure that the organization is taking full advantage of its capabilities in meeting these strategies. The implementation and review of new products and/or processes should also be discussed in these meetings.

Management should also assign a task group within the organization with the responsibility of defining best practices. Management should meet with the task group on a regular basis through a series of briefings or updates to determine the progress of implementation of these practices.

Top management should be accessible to the employees; this can be accomplished by frequently walking the plant floor or by eating lunch in the employee cafeteria. Accessible managers give employees a sense of comfort regarding the direction of the organization.

Spirit

The manager will be charged with firing up the employees in uncertain times. This is of particular importance in organizations that have had a significant reduction in the workforce. Employees that have remained may feel threatened by the potential loss of their job or may be overworked from taking on extra duties due to staff cutbacks. A recent poll of American workers found that nearly 40 percent of employees are worried that they are going to lose their job within the next twelve months.

This troubling statistic illustrates the need for organizational leaders to inspire employees because a motivated workforce is a more productive workforce. People need to feel needed and wanted and they need to realize that they can and do make a difference. An effective leader can promote spirit in an organization in the manner in which a coach inspires an athletic team.

The first step in this process is to make certain that the organization still has the fundamental core vision that may have attracted many of the employees. Troubled economic times have forced many companies to diversify their products and markets to stay solvent. If these changes have altered the organization’s original core vision, some employees may feel alienated and become dissatisfied with their new role. Now is the time to evaluate the core vision of the organization and clearly define the mission moving forward.

Spirit is encouraged through team building. Management should promote collaboration among the employees give everybody an equal opportunity to participate. The employees need to feel valued, and setting goals and tracking the progress towards the goals can achieve this. Everybody has an internal desire to win, so if you set achievable goals, employee morale will increase as the goals are met.

One area where a manager can build team spirit is at staff meetings. It is the responsibility of the manager to ensure that these meetings are used as a time to enforce a positive message about the organization. The focus should be on making the meetings effective by exchanging information and discussing viewpoints and ideas that will aid the organization’s future growth. The overall spirit of the organization will be positive if the purpose of the meetings is to pull people together to solve problems rather than focusing how bad the problems are.

Flexibility

The only thing certain in today’s business climate is change. The manager must be able to navigate the organization’s strategy through an uncertain climate. To effectively manage change a configured response is required, the manager should not rely on an adherence to pre-figured routines. An important attribute of a manager is that they must be flexible and have the ability to drop whatever they are doing to tend to the more pressing issues as they come up.

Flexibility is also required in planning. The organization should follow the action-feedback model by planning and acting on information in short intervals. During times of consistent change, it is best to treat everything as a temporary measure.

Vision

A key role in leadership is setting the direction of the organization and then influencing people to follow. Even in these tough economic times, an effective leader should have an eye towards the future in charting a path for the company’s growth. All organizations require growth at some level to succeed. Growth does not necessarily have to be in the number of employees or physical sites; it can be measured in such important business variables as effectiveness, quality or production.

An important attribute of a good leader is to provide vision for the future. Vision is achieved by long-range planning and is most effective when the organization has a true vision statement. The most successful leaders write down their goals, values, and visions for the organization and use them as a barometer for performance.

A vision statement — or a mission statement as it is sometimes referred as — defines the organization’s long-range planning and identifies the steps required to achieve success. To establish a successful vision statement, the company’s core values must be defined. Unless the long-range planning is intended to stir the organization away from its core business — a tactic almost never recommended — the vision should focus on improving sectors within the organization’s core values.

A vision statement can be prepared by answering a few questions about the current state of the organization, including:

· What are the core values of the organization?

· What does the organization do best?

· Which sectors are growing and what is required to compete in the future?

Once the vision statement is prepared, it should be shared with all stakeholders in the organization and management should define their roles in meeting this vision. The vision statement should be referenced at all strategic planning meetings to determine if the set goals are being accomplished.

Successful leadership involves making key decisions that affect an organization — and then following through on those decisions to accomplish the desired results.

About the author: John A. D’Annunzio is President of Paragon Roofing Technology, Inc. a Construction Engineering Firm he founded in 1989. He has published over 100 articles and has written four books on building exterior issues. For more information, visit www.paragonroofingtech.com.

How Sales Management Can Hurt Sales

There’s a sales management philosophy in too many companies that is actually working against sales growth. And the salespeople know it. The philosophy goes like this:

  • Walk in 40 doors a day.
  • Make 40 calls a day.
  • Hand your business card to everyone.
  • Gather as many business cards as you can.
  • Sell, sell, sell.

While this is a lot of activity and can look good on a sales report, it isn’t usually productive. And it shifts the goal from getting business to participating in a specific behavior.

This usually happens because the owner or sales manager found great success using these methods. That’s great for them! But it doesn’t mean everyone is going to be successful doing it that way.

sIn addition, today’s business environment doesn’t really offer a welcoming landscape for this kind of behavior. The consumers are very well educated and are really looking for someone they trust. The salesperson is better off working on relationship building rather than tallying the number of doors knocked.

Many companies with this philosophy have a lot of turnover in the sales department. And do you know why? Because people join the company with the best of intentions and in many cases a great method for gaining sales. When they discover that they can’t implement their method, but rather have to engage in behavior that doesn’t work for them, they don’t hit their sales goals. So, they leave — either voluntarily or by request.

Either way, it’s not good for the company. The cost alone of bringing on a new employee is significant. Think about it. You’ve got to run ads, sift through resumes, interview, hire, onboard, train, and then exit. Go ahead and put dollar values on each of those items, then add them up. Now include the lack of sales into the cost. All the business you didn’t do! It’s an expensive proposition.

Building Confidence

Another key concern is the image that develops of the company in the community. Think about things from the prospect or client’s point of view. If, every time they turn around there’s a new salesperson introducing themselves, you’re telegraphing instability within your company. Is that really the message you are trying to send? Customers want confidence that the salesperson they’ve grown to trust will be there for more than a hot minute. If they keep seeing new salespeople, their trust goes down. That’s never good.

So, I ask you, which is more important?

  1. Engaging in a specific activity
  2. Gaining new clients

I’d say No. 2. And if that really is more important, then it doesn’t matter how it is done — as long as it is moral, legal, and ethical.

Sales managers would be better off sharing the vision and the goals of the company with their sales staff while leaving the sales strategy to each salesperson. Empower the sales team to develop their own process and then monitor their results. Give them the resources they need to be successful. Be there for them when they need advice, or training. And communicate with them on a regular basis about their results. As long as the results are there, the process shouldn’t matter.

Think about why you hire someone. Is it because you believe they have the skills and personality necessary to succeed at sales? Probably. And if so, don’t you owe it to them to trust them to do the job? Whenever we tell someone how to do something, we’re really saying that we don’t trust them to do it right. There’s a confidence killer!

It’s like hiring someone for their great attitude and then squashing that attitude. Makes no sense. Respecting the sales staff means talking with them, not at them. It means listening to what they have to say, respecting their ability, and expecting them to deliver. Period. The best way to disrespect the sales staff is to tell them to do things your way. Then you are telling them that you don’t trust them to do it right, or well, or successfully. Believe me when I tell you, you won’t get what you are wanting if you engage in this sort of “management.” Instead, lead your team. Help them be the best they can be.

After all, sales is about relationships, not dialing for dollars. Let your salespeople network and develop relationships with referral partners, prospects, and clients. Their time will be better spent, the results will be there, and everyone will be happier. If one of the salespeople decides to make 40 calls a day, great! That is their preferred method. It should be more important to make sure your salespeople have a strategy that makes sense to them than to have a strategy that only makes sense to the sales manager.

ATAS National Sales Manager Receives Award

Mark Bus, national sales manager of ATAS International, received a Metal Construction Association Triumph Award at METALCON in Baltimore.  He was recognized as being someone who demonstrates excellence, creativity and initiative in his or her business or profession.
 
Jim Bush, vice president of Sales and Marketing states, “I have had the pleasure of watching Mark mature over the years to a young and emerging professional; not only within ATAS but also in the industry.  He has earned the respect of the ATAS sales team, as well as peers and management, through hard work and a sound decision making process.  Mark is also aware of industry initiatives and association activities and brings those into daily communications with staff and customers.”
 
An ATAS distributor, Allan Brock of Brock Associates, says, “During my forty year tenure in the commercial metal roofing and siding industry, I have rarely crossed paths with a young professional like Mark Bus.  I have seen Mark evolve from an inside technical sales person, to a regional product representative, to management.  At each level, he radiated professionalism along with product and technical knowledge.  It’s been a pleasure dealing with an individual as capable as Mark.”
 
Robert J. Bailey, AIA, CSI, CCS, LEED AP, specifications and constructability specialist with IKM Inc., also recommended Mark Bus for this award.  “Mark makes it a point to understand the people who are specifying and purchasing ATAS products.  As a new product rep in western Pennsylvania, he became involved in various CSI (Construction Specifications Institute) chapters.  It was clear to me that Mark knew in order to be prepared for a leadership role in ATAS, he first needed to understand the industry itself and establish important contacts and relationships there.  Mark is an example for other young sales professionals.”

The High Roofer: Recognize Whether Drug Abuse Is Occurring in Your Workplace

Drug abuse in the workplace is a great threat to the health and safety of American
workers, and roofers are no exception. Roofers have the fifth-highest work-related death rate in construction—about twice the average for all construction (about 50 roofers are killed on the job each year, most by falls). According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the construction industry, including the roofing trade, has the second highest level of alcohol abuse and sixth highest level of drug abuse. (The survey is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C.)

Signs and symptoms of drug abuse in the workplace are absenteeism, staff turnover, lower productivity, poor work quality and overall poor morale. These can lead to increased accidents and near misses, theft of equipment and materials, and equipment breakdowns.

In addition, behavioral issues commonly are associated with substance abuse. For example, addicted workers may exhibit a change in attitude or work performance, erratic performance, hangover symptoms and secretive behavior. Other signs include isolation, forgetfulness, indecision, erratic judgment, impulsive and temperamental behavior, changes in personal appearance and hygiene, jitters, hand tremors, hyper-excitability, carelessness, sleeping on the job, trouble with police, aggression and constant illnesses.

If your employees are using, some common sites for drug abuse while at work are lunchrooms and lounge areas, parking lots and cars, remote areas of a worksite, equipment and storage rooms, and restrooms.

Read on to learn about today’s common drugs and identify whether your employees have addictions to these drugs:

Marijuana

Marijuana, also known as weed, reefer, pot, etc., comes from the hemp plant (cannabis sativa). About 10 percent of roofing workers claim to use marijuana. In 1974, marijuana had an approximate 1 percent content of THC (the chemical responsible for marijuana’s high). Depending on the grower, today’s marijuana’s THC content can be between 15 and 22 percent.

Marijuana is highly carcinogenic. One joint is equivalent to 25 cigarettes. It can be smoked, eaten or vaped. Marijuana affects the user’s mental function. Feelings include a sense of well-being, irritability, insomnia, anxiety, depression, apathy, diminished concentration, delayed decision-making, impaired short- term memory, erratic cognitive functions and distortions in time estimation.

Signs and symptoms of marijuana use include impaired tracking, distinctive odor on clothing, decrease in visual functioning and other ophthalmic problems, reddened eyes, slowed speech, chronic fatigue and a lack of motivation. Acute/overdose effects are aggressive urges, anxiety, confusion, fearfulness, hallucinations and heavy sedation.

Withdrawal comes with a loss of appetite, restlessness, chronic fatigue and a lack of motivation.

Methamphetamine

Amphetamine, methamphetamine, uppers, speed, crank and ice are similar in makeup and effect. The second-most widely used drug (after marijuana), meth can come in different colors: white, brown, pink. It can be taken orally as tablets or capsules. Its liquid form can be injected or mixed with other fluids and drank. It can also be snorted as a powder. In its rock form, it can be smoked.

Within minutes after being smoked or injected, users experience an intense “rush”, which is said to be very pleasurable. Although the rush only lasts a few minutes, the effects can last for up to 12 hours and keep users awake and moving for several days at a time. Meth users build up a tolerance, which forces them to have a strong desire for more.

Visible signs and symptoms of meth use are hyper-excitability, dilated pupils, profuse sweating, confusion, panic, talkativeness and an inability to concentrate. Regular use produces strong psycho- logical dependence and increased drug tolerance. High doses may cause toxic psychosis, resembling schizophrenia. Intoxication may induce heart attack or stroke. Chronic users experience increased impulsive or risk-taking behaviors.

Withdrawal causes severe depression. The effects of meth are so potent that there is a 95 percent relapse rate.

Cocaine

Cocaine was once called the “Rich Man’s Drug” because of its short-lived effects. Regular use can upset chemical balance in the brain. It also causes the heart to beat faster and harder. Deaths caused by overdose can occur when taken with depressants.

Signs and symptoms of cocaine use in the workplace include financial problems; frequent absences from work; increased physical activity followed by fatigue, isolation and withdrawal.

Cocaine users usually show increasing secretive behaviors and unusual defensiveness. Other symptoms include wide mood swings, nose problems, difficulty in concentration and dilated pupils. Cocaine addicts exhibit the strongest mental dependency of all drugs, and the treatment success rates are lower than all other addictive drugs.

Opioids

One of the worst drug problems in the U.S. today is the opiate/opioid epidemic. Natural opiates are derived from resin of the poppy plant. However, synthetic opioids are increasingly replacing natural opiates.

Addiction to opioid medications has impacted every level of society. Many people blame the addiction prevalence on health-care providers who are quick to write a prescription for help with chronic pain. An estimated 210 million prescriptions for opiates were dispensed in 2010 alone. According to DrugAbuse.com, examples of opiates include heroin, morphine, oxycodone (trade names are OxyContin and Percocet), hydrocodone (trade names are Vicodin and Lortab), codeine and fentanyl. Frighteningly, prescription opiate abusers are far more likely to eventually develop a heroin addiction than a non-opiate abuser because heroin will offer a similar high at a cheaper price.

Any long-term use puts a person at risk of addiction, even if the substance is used as prescribed. Many people who use opiates will develop a tolerance to them—a phenomenon that can trigger the cycle of addiction. When this occurs, people routinely take more of the substance to elicit the desired response. This ever-increasing dosing places one at great risk for overdose.

Physical signs that someone may be abusing an opiate include noticeable elation/euphoria, marked sedation/ drowsiness, confusion, constricted pupils, slowed breathing, and intermittent nodding off or loss of consciousness. Other signs of opiate abuse include shifting or dramatically changing moods, extra pill bottles turning up in the trash, social withdrawal/isolation, and sudden financial problems.

Withdrawal symptoms from opiates can be extremely severe. The symptoms mimic the flu and include headache, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, fatigue, anxiety and inability to sleep. These symptoms can be so severe that the addict will do anything to feel better.

Don’t Mix Roofing and Drugs

Because falls from roof edges account for half or three-fourths of roofers’ deaths, it’s not difficult to understand why drug use on the job would be concerning. For roofers in residential construction, falls from roof edges accounted for 70 percent of work-related fall deaths and 90 percent of roof fall deaths. These statistics coupled with the statistics on drug abuse in the construction industry suggest that drug abuse possibly may be a contributor to falls.

LEARN MORE

Train Employees In-house about Low- and Steep-slope Roofing

NRCA’s Roof Application Training Program Package can help you train employees in-house at your convenience regarding the basics of low- and steep-slope roofing, as well as roofing equipment and setup and tear-off procedures and techniques. The package includes Roof Application Training Program: Foundations of Roofing and Roof Application Training Program: Equipment, Setup and Tear-off.

Roof Application Training Program: Foundations of Roofing includes roofing terminology, roof system components, company operations and roof safety.

Roof Application Training Program: Equipment, Setup and Tear-off offers information about safe and efficient roofing project setup and tear- off procedures and techniques; guidelines for setting up jobs for maximum efficiency; and tools and equipment used for low- and steep-slope roofing work, specifically for job setup and tear-off.

The DVD-based programs provide all the necessary tools to conduct effective training for your employees, including two-part DVD programs; instructors’ guides; and student hand-outs and exams, among other resources. The programs help new employees learn the basics and facilitate discussion with existing employees. The programs include English and Spanish training materials.

You can save by purchasing the package, which is $325 for members and $650 for nonmembers. Programs also can be purchased separately. For more information, visit NRCA’s website.

Garland Co. Awarded 2016 Top Workplace

For the fifth consecutive year, the Garland Co. has been awarded the 2016 Top Workplace honor by The Plain Dealer. This year, Garland placed fifth in the Small Companies category.

This year’s announcement, the seventh annual ranking from The Plain Dealer, ranked 100 companies in northeast Ohio. Garland is proud to be recognized among its peers for one of the company’s greatest priorities and most valuable assets—its people.

“Even as we have grown over the past 120 years, we have been able to maintain—and even improve—our culture of a hardworking family. I think a large part of that is our employee-ownership program, which makes each and every one of our employees an invested stakeholder in our success,” says Scott Craft, Garland’s vice president and general manager.

The Top Workplace list is based solely on the results of an employee feedback survey administered by WorkplaceDynamics LLC, a research firm that specializes in organizational health and workplace improvement. Several aspects of workplace culture were measured, including alignment, execution, and connection, just to name a few.

“The Top Workplaces award is not a popularity contest. And oftentimes, people assume it’s all about fancy perks and benefits.” says Doug Claffey, CEO of WorkplaceDynamics. “But to be a Top Workplace, organizations must meet our strict standards for organizational health. And who better to ask about work life than the people who live the culture every day—the employees.”

Construction Software Automates Complex Processes into Simple Tasks

Dexter + Chaney, developer of Spectrum Construction Software, introduces its Spectrum Workflow functionality, which streamlines construction and business management operations by automating complex processes into simple, user-definable tasks.

Dexter + Chaney, developer of Spectrum Construction Software, introduces its Spectrum Workflow functionality, which streamlines construction and business management operations by automating complex processes into simple, user-definable tasks.

Dexter + Chaney, developer of Spectrum Construction Software, introduces its Spectrum Workflow functionality, which streamlines construction and business management operations by automating complex processes into simple, user-definable tasks. Dexter + Chaney unveiled the new technology at its 19th annual Connect 2015 Users’ Conference.

The Spectrum Workflow feature, fully integrated throughout Spectrum, allows users to define and enforce specific rules and tasks—creating automated, simple, streamlined processes for their organization. Spectrum Workflow utilizes intelligent workflow technology, allowing tasks and approvals to be routed to specific people, groups, or even defined roles within the organization. Tasks can be sequential or parallel, meaning that they can be sent to one person before being sent on to the next person, or to an entire group where one member or all members need to complete the task, depending on how the workflow step is defined.

Users can quickly approve, reject or mark each step that has been completed. The full history of each transaction processed is tracked and stored, creating a detailed audit trail. Setting up workflow definitions is simple and once in place, they guide tasks efficiently from creation to conclusion. All people involved with a particular task or process are alerted when their attention or action is needed. This provides a smooth movement of data within the organization, along with a powerful added layer of oversight to ensure that no data is overlooked and no tasks fall through the cracks.

Spectrum Workflow integrates with the powerful Info Bar in Spectrum, giving users their own Workflow section where their tasks and processes can be addressed, while providing the ability to drill deep into data without the need to utilize multiple screens or menu systems. Spectrum users also have their own My Current Workflow Assignments app on the intuitive Spectrum Dashboard where they can access assigned tasks and drill down into data.

Perhaps most important is that Spectrum Workflow is completely customizable to each organization’s specific needs. Workflows can be easily changed to address special needs or situations as they arise. Authorized users can also override predefined workflows or re-route tasks and approvals when necessary.

Quality Assurance

As all of us in the roofing industry are keenly aware, roofing work is fraught with exposure. If the installation quality is poor at any time, there is real risk that the entire structure and its contents can be damaged or destroyed. Depending on the size of the loss, the result could be absolutely crippling for any roofing contractor to absorb. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for quality; what works for one company may not work for another. I do feel strongly, though, that the emphasis on quality has to permeate your entire organization, top to bottom.

For our office, McHenry, Ill.-based Metalmaster Roofmaster, the process begins as early as the pre-award, bidding and estimating phase of the project. Our seasoned estimators carry years of industry experience and are always looking to identify, from the project plans and specifications, issues with the specified products or system, the effectiveness of which often depends on the season in which the roof is being installed. What frequently happens is that we end up recommending a change to the specified system type or installation method to better accommodate project or weather conditions, which will consequently result in a better installation in the end.

This review process does not end there. Post-award, the project moves to our submittal department, which serves as yet another set of eyes to review the plans and specifications for effectiveness of the specified roof system and installation. Our submittal technicians fulfill an office quality-control function to ensure the system products and installation are, in fact, best suited for that particular project. As part of the department’s review, the submittal department works closely with our valued manufacturing partners to elicit feedback and confirmation on the final submittal package. If changes to the plans and specifications are warranted, they are addressed timely and prior to roofing installation—during the submittal process.

The end result is that, by the time the project moves to our project management department for the actual installation, the groundwork for a quality installation has been laid because the products, manufacturers and installation methods have been carefully reviewed multiple times to ensure maximum effectiveness and applicability to the project. Unfortunately all system and
product changes have already been made and approved. All that is left is for our trained field crew to install.

Just prior to the actual field installation, our project managers and superintendents carefully review the plans, specifications and approved shop drawings. The site is reviewed to identify site issues that could potentially affect the quality of the installation. The project documents are furnished to the project foreman, who reviews and discusses the most effective means and methods with the superintendent and project manager. Throughout the course of the installation, open communication among the project manager, superintendent, foreman and field crew is encouraged to proactively discuss and address issues and concerns. At times, a third-party consultant is retained to perform an objective inspection of the roofing installation and to offer suggestions.

Once the installation is complete, we utilize our service department personnel to visit the site and perform any touch-up and detail work prior to the final manufacturer’s inspection. The manufacturer’s representative is accompanied during his inspection by one of our field staff, so that any and all concerns can be addressed and corrected on the spot and manufacturer
approval can be furnished and warranties issued in a timely manner. Owner and architect punchlists are dealt with similarly and, at that point, the owner and general contractor have assurances as to the quality of the roof installation.

It goes without saying, quality of installation is and always will be absolutely critical to the success of Metalmaster Roofmaster. Being able to point to a long history of quality installations has directly impacted our ability to earn new and repeat business, maintain and increase company profitability, build our reputation in the industry, gain manufacturer certification and recognition, reduce insurance premiums, achieve adequate bonding capacity and rates, and a litany of other items. Although we invest a substantial amount of time and resources into the process to ensure the quality of installations, the investment is small relative to the peace of mind and other tangible benefits achieved by maintaining a consistent record of quality roof installations.

NRCA Is Accepting Applications for Its Future Executives Institute

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) now is accepting applications for its Future Executives Institute (FEI), a comprehensive, powerful three-year program focused on leading and managing a successful roofing business. FEI’s first session is slated to be held Sept. 28 — Oct. 1. Classes will take place at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management campus in Chicago.

FEI, which is taught by Kellogg professors, industry leaders and field experts, offers participants an in-depth look at management theory and practice. Those who attend also benefit from unique industry networking opportunities while developing their leadership and communication skills.

“It is rare to have access to such accomplished and insightful minds in such a focused setting,” says 2013 FEI graduate, Marc Farrell, manager at A.W. Farrell & Son Inc., Salisbury, N.C. “NRCA has done an excellent job providing us with the opportunity to make improvements to ourselves, our companies and our industry.”

FEI provides basic business information, current industry topics, leadership and personal development opportunities, and team building exercises. Class size is limited to 30 roofing professionals to allow for in-depth conversations and class relationships during the three-year program.

The deadline for early-bird applications is June 1, 2014. Those who apply by this time will receive notice if they are accepted by June 16. The regular application deadline is Aug. 1.

Learn more about FEI or apply for the program.

Four Tips for Great Leadership

In the past three and a half years, Saratoga Roofing & Construction of Oklahoma City has grown from $6.5 million in annual revenue and four employees to a company earning $50 million with 265 employees. To what do we attribute this phenomenal growth? Great leadership.

It has been said: “A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader. A great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.” Being a great leader takes commitment, confidence and clarity. The old-school method of employing scare tactics—“If you don’t do what I tell you to do, then there’s the door!”—doesn’t cut it anymore in today’s business world. Besides, if you still subscribe to the “It’s my way or the highway” way of thinking, you’re going to alienate everyone who works in your company or organization and nothing will be accomplished. During my career, I have experienced owners and/or leaders who used authoritarian leadership and, in my opinion, they will not make it during the next decade.

Denver Green, Saratoga Roofing & Construction’s president, shares four reasons why Saratoga will continue to be a successful company during the next decade:

1) We continuously work to set a clear direction for our teams. Clarity will always lead to desired results. If you aren’t clear about where you’re going, do you think your team will be? As a leader, my role is to be the visionary who paints the picture for them to follow. If our leaders aren’t clear about the necessary steps our staff needs to accomplish goal, then a lot of time is going to be wasted running around in circles. Our consultant, Masterthink, ensures every company executive has a clear goal with action plans tied to dates and people who are accountable for executing the goal. If needed, we draw a roadmap on paper outlining the full process, starting with the objective and detailing what each person is responsible to complete. The better your directions are, the easier it will be to meet the goal.

2) I work hard to make sure my actions match my intentions and visions. As the leader, I always need to know what I envision being the final outcome of the project/task we’re asking our employees to execute. Do you want to “wow” a client with an exceptional product presentation? Can you see the final project completed? What does it look like to you? Are you excited about this task? The level of my commitment and enthusiasm needs to come across loud and clear to our team. If I’m “ho hum” about the outcome, then guess what? That’s the attitude that will be adopted by members of my team. Some of us are “big picture” thinkers. We forget about all the details that lead to the big picture, but as the leader of Saratoga, I can’t allow myself to let those last-minute details slide. If I do, then the final outcome will definitely not be to our liking.

3) Creating a cohesive team has been a real key to our success but also a big challenge. I must have confidence in my team and their abilities. Knowing who fits in where on our team is crucial to creating success. We know it is critical to assign the “right” people to the “right” tasks. If one of our employees doesn’t like dispatching but loves to work on data entry, then we assign him or her that job. Knowing the strengths of each member of our team is crucial in achieving a successful end result. Forcing someone to take on duties he or she absolutely hates creates resentment, and resentment slows down the entire project or leads to poor performance. Our company utilizes the online assessment tool StrengthsFinder as a means to understand
the strengths of our employees so we can maximize their abilities and strengths to the fullest extent.

4) Work smarter, not harder. I know we have heard this phrase a million times, but it bears repeating. Learning to delegate the workload to the right person will lift some of the weight of turning in a top-notch end result off your own shoulders. My role is to be the visionary—not the micro-manager. I model what it means to be a leader and a follower and, in turn, I take great pride in inspiring and creating great leaders for the future.

As a member of the Saratoga Roofing & Construction team, I can truly say this is the “Saratoga Difference”.