Canadian Contractor

Training, time-management and your contracting firm

Training should be an ongoing, routine part of your company. It shouldn't be something you only do when a new hire is brought on.

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March 5, 2013 by Mike Draper

Training should be an ongoing, routine part of your company. It’s not something to do once when, for example, a new hire is brought on. Training should be a continuous process of employee development that will help in the creation of a world-class organization.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you are enrolled in a coaching program. You’re being exposed to a whole new way of thinking about your business. You’re excited and full of ideas. You have new techniques and tools that you’re ready to implement. But when you present those ideas to your staff, they look at you and say, “Coaching”? What on earth are you talking about, boss?”

If you expect your employees to be on board with your vision, to get excited about new direction, concepts or practices, you must introduce them to these ideas through regular training sessions. Whether you bring in outside trainers, do in-house sessions, or online courses, we cannot stress enough the importance of continuous training. It will keep your staff learning, growing and inspired.

Finding the time and resources for training

At its heart, this can be broken down into two separate issues: time management and resource allocation.

Time is an irreplaceable resource. Effective use of your time, more than any other habit, will increase your productivity and your effectiveness as a leader.

There are only 24 hours in a day. This is a universal truth. Yet some people accomplish a great deal more in that day than others. Although most people rarely think of it this way, “time” is simply another word for “life.” When you think of it this way, isn’t it easy to see why good time management is so critical?

You wouldn’t let your employees, clients, vendors, and friends shorten the days of your life, would you? So why do you let them steal your time? Time is your single most precious resource, and it’s one that only you can protect. The good news, however, is that learning to manage your time is like any other skill. All it takes is a little practice and a willingness to develop some new habits.

The first step is to understand how much of your time is spent on productive activities that directly contribute to the results you want, and how much of your time is spent unproductively. Start by tracking your time. How do you spend each minute of your day? How long do you spend writing emails, making telephone calls, doing the technical work, and so on? Sometimes, just being aware of how you’re spending your time can help you become more efficient in the way you use your time.

You may find that you have to step up your time management skills. You can start this process by tracking and analyzing the way you spend your time – objectively looking at your habits and deliberately choosing more productive habits. By doing this, you can create an ideal daily routine. The ideal daily routine is a daily objective – the way you want your day to unfold. It’s a guideline, not an inflexible template.

We hear all the time from business owners who track their time and establish an ideal daily schedule that they often find themselves pulled off their schedule and unable to complete all five of their most important “to do” items for that day. When this happens, begin by acknowledging how many of your five most important “to do” items you actually did accomplish. If you did get some of them done, pat yourself on the back! If you didn’t get any done, you need to seriously re-evaluate your time management. If this happens often, your business is running you instead of you running your business!

Then take a closer look at your ideal daily routine. Did you remember to schedule some buffer time in your day to deal with the unexpected emergencies that are always cropping up, no matter what you do? If it happens every day, first give yourself the time to deal with those issues by putting it on your schedule. Second, give yourself the time to find out why those things came up in the first place. Pay attention to what got in your way. Is there a pattern there? What could you do next time so that disruption won’t happen again? Establish a system to deal with those issues.

Developing these skills takes time… and you know just how precious time is. So, as silly as it sounds, what you have to do is schedule time to develop these time management skills. If you don’t schedule it, you probably won’t get to it. It will get put on a back burner. Eventually, you’ll look back and wonder why you never did it. Get in the habit of scheduling time to schedule time.

Once you’ve become good at your time management, you can schedule time to tackle your training systems.

Mike Draper

Mike Draper

Mike Draper is a Master Coach with Renovantage. Renovantage is a first-of-its-kind business group for home renovators in Canada.

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