How to Create Culture in a Restoration Business: Creating a Competitive Advantage

What is Culture

If you’re a restoration business owner or manager, how many times over the course of your career have you asked an employee, “Do you have a minute?” I would assume that, like me, you cannot even come close to determining the number of times you have used this opening line to begin what may have been a difficult conversation. In a service delivery industry, like disaster restoration, these conversations happen often. Lets explore why “culture” matters, and then some tips for creating a strong culture in a restoration business.

No one can argue that people are people, and as human beings, we will always struggle with having difficult conversations. The issues that every restoration business is facing currently make it much tougher to have difficult workplace conversations. The worldwide pandemic, economic uncertainty, family issues, health (physical and mental), and the fact that many employees are working from home for the first time ever all affect how to appropriately address performance issues and conduct effective, performance-related conversations.

The Society for Human Resource Management’s Culture Report of 2019 states the following:

  • Nearly 4 in 10 employed U.S. workers say their manager fails to frequently engage in honest conversation about work topics.
  • 3 in 10 say their manager doesn’t encourage a culture of open and transparent communications.

If these were the statistics in 2019, how much worse do you think they were in 2020, given all the issues outlined above?

Difficult Conversations Create Strong Culture

But let’s face it, no matter what outside influences are affecting your business, the responsibility to ensure accountability and responsibility, along with extraordinary service to your customers, remains an integral part of every manager’s job. In reality, the majority of leaders fail to conduct difficult conversations promptly and timely regardless of the circumstances. The reasons vary and can include conflict avoidance, fear, frustration, or the most common, that “it will start an argument and I don’t have time for that now.” This can have a negative impact on creating a positive culture in a restoration business.

Do any of these reasons sound familiar? Have you engaged in any of these mindsets? If so, you need to commit to stop using these excuses and begin conducting difficult workplace conversations in an appropriate manner.

Tips Creating Culture in Your Restoration Business

Numerous books and articles have been written on this topic and, across the spectrum, the advice seems to be consistent as to what experts tell us is critical to dealing successfully with difficult conversations. You can become more comfortable having difficult conversations if you stick to these tips.

  • Be empathic to the employee but do not be sympathetic.
  • Be prepared prior to the discussion. Asking, “Do you have a minute?” as a spur-of-the-moment idea is not acceptable. Difficult conversations CANNOT take place in a minute or at the last minute!
  • Anticipate and plan for an open, two-way conversation. Be mindful of your body language and remember that difficult conversations require a significant amount of adaptation.
  • Ask “Why?” as often as needed to uncover the employee’s side of the issue.
  • Always try to get ahead of a problem. You risk the employee believing they are “entitled” to engage in the bad behavior or poor performance if you wait too long to address it.
  • Recognize the importance of being direct and confident but not overbearing.
  • Always keep in mind the end goal and the purpose of the difficult conversation.

Building Employees Builds Culture in a Restoration Business

Remember that people leave managers, they don’t leave companies. You need to be the best version of yourself that you can be, including being committed to engaging in difficult conversations in a timely manner to ensure the healthiest workplace culture in a restoration business. Effectively handling these situations is a skill that can be learned, not everyone is born with this ability. For those who are being promoted from a restoration technician to a technician supervisor, I teach the Technician Supervisory Training Program.

It is a well-known and proven concept that the hardest thing for your competitors to duplicate, and therefore the best competitive advantage you can have, is the hearts and minds of your employees. In other words, when your entire workforce is committed to passionate performance, you will conquer the competition. And it starts with having open communication, including difficult conversations when needed.

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