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Construction executives are plagued by an environment of relentless demands coming from every direction—from unpredictable changes and an email inbox filling up with other people’s priorities to clients, customers and coworkers demanding attention and resources. It can be exhausting and stressful.

Construction leaders who want to win tomorrow need to invest their time wisely today. Winning tomorrow means gaining control over daily schedules, completing the most important tasks (MITs), becoming more effective leaders and getting ideal projects at precisely the right time. It’s having excellent people on the team doing the right things, having enough in the pipeline to retain a consistent talent pool, showing enough profit to further invest while supporting the family and the organization, and doing it without feeling overwhelmed. 

But staying in the rut of waiting to see what fires flash today isn’t strategic, nor is it sustainable. Instead, construction executives headed toward really winning their tomorrow must master five skills.

Respond, Don’t React

It’s not enough to let the day unfold, reacting to schedule changes, personnel challenges and new business opportunities without carefully considering the long-term ramifications of decisions. Reacting is spontaneous; it’s without thought or focus. It’s stressful, and it’s costing even the best construction firms time, energy, relationships, personnel and control.

Responding is strategic. It’s controlled. It’s smart. It’s focused, and it helps ensure a targeted outcome. Responding means setting the organization’s sights on a specific niche, an ideal project, an audacious financial goal, a desired level of excellence for key personnel, or a premier degree of customer service or expertise.

Responding entails making decisions with consideration to guide the entire team toward the defined destination. Even in a seemingly unpredictable environment, responding can create calm focus for solid decision-making.  

Strategically Define and Communicate a Clear Outcome

A team that chooses the path of least resistance may not steer the ship to the right port. Instead, winning leaders will strategically identify the desired port, communicate that port to the team and then let them do their jobs. Equip them with adequate resources, appropriate training and a clear destination, and then step aside so they can do their work. Revisit often enough to know they are on course. Then let them use their expertise, training and experience to guide that ship to the destination.

A poor result often is a result of a poorly communicated outcome. 

Choose Effective Over Busy

Winning the construction game means choosing effective (E) tasks over busy (B) tasks. It’s easy to get caught up putting out the latest fire or greasing the squeakiest wheel. However, E tasks will generate the greatest ROI, and B tasks will generate the greatest stress. 

High-performing construction executives choose E over B because they are as dialed into where their time goes as they are to where their money goes. B tasks can give a person a short-term feeling of accomplishment, but they fall short of getting great results. B tasks simply create the illusion of getting things done. 

The three questions that distinguish E from B are:  

  • Is doing this task worth the time it takes to do it? 
  • Could this task be delegated to someone else to either cost less or to increase that person’s skill set?
  • Does this task move the needle on the progress toward a strategic goal?
Schedule MITs 

The daily to-do list is a leader’s most important tool and should include two MITs. Leaders who try to accomplish everything are likely to accomplish little. By contrast, those who focus on two MITs daily see greater quality results.  

The most effective time managers choose MITs for the following day during the last 90 minutes of their workday. This prevents the early morning anxiety from tainting their daily planning and decision-making.

Master Energy and Focus

Contractors that get the most out of their day learn to master both their energy and their focus as they prioritize. An early bird takes advantage of the quiet morning hours, grabs a cup of coffee, and tackles the tasks requiring heavy cognitive load and tough decision- making. Emails and returning calls can be scheduled in lower energy cycles later in the day. For night owls, the opposite regimen capitalizes on late-day energy spurts. 

Extra effort made to focus on one task at a time—minimizing distractions, notifications and interruptions—elevates productivity from frantic to full-speed ahead. That means shutting off the phone, muting computer notifications, closing the door and letting voicemail do its job. The most powerful, effective leaders in every industry know when to disconnect from the distractions of the rest of the world, and they do it.

Winning tomorrow today takes an investment of time, energy and resources. It doesn’t just happen. It requires a strategic approach utilizing high-performing tools to communicate, plan and focus. 

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