I’ve shared before that about 20 years ago I had the opportunity to build a house. My builder told me that the typical house takes 160 days to complete – from groundbreaking to moving in.  He then warned me that because the house was 700 feet off the main road, construction would take longer. Just how much longer, he would not commit.

I determined to reduce construction time. I stayed engaged with the general contractor and treated the subcontractors like royalty. During construction I went out to the house nearly every day. Typically, I went to the house after work to evaluate progress and report findings to the general contractor.

On occasion I would go to the site early in the morning before work, or during lunch. I took coffee, water, donuts, cookies or pizza for the subcontractors. Later, I learned that these gestures created a sense of purpose and appreciation among the subcontractors. They wanted to help people build their dreams. They wanted to do good work and they wanted to feel like they were a part of something bigger than 8 – 10 hours of labor a day. I also discovered later that this worked to my advantage as many extras were added – at no cost.

There are two major lessons here. First, the sponsor of the project must be actively engaged in monitoring and guiding progress. The second lesson is to engage and inspire your employees during change. I used donuts and coffee to share my passion for building the house, and in turn, the subcontractors felt like they were part of something bigger.

You might say, “Well, Steve, this is a nice story, but so what? You expended a lot of time and energy to supervise the construction, a job you delegated to the general contractor. But what were the real benefits?” We moved into the house in 140 days, the house met specifications, and the project came in under budget. How many of your projects achieve these kinds of results?

When you consider your next change initiative plan time in your calendar to stay engaged with the project. Think about more than just attending the regular status meetings to stay informed. Instead, make a difference. Talk to the employees doing the work. Ask the project manager informally about progress. Schedule lunches or other events during the project and not just to celebrate the end of the project.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

Steve

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