How to Transform Your Business with an Innovation Culture

These days, the challenges and business threats contractors face seem to be growing and eating deeper into profit margins. Competition, material costs, economic conditions and more are significantly impacting businesses. Dealing with this barrage daily is exhausting and leaves owners feeling like they’ll never have time to find a solution. Yet, to be successful, contractors must find the time to be proactive and motivate their team, move their business towards the future and create a culture that fosters innovation.

Now is the time to evaluate your corporate culture and develop a plan to ensure the sustainability of your firm. Why transform your company culture? It is at this core of your business that you and your team can make informed decisions to future-proof your business. As the industry changes, not adjusting your vision to combat current and future threats through innovation and motivation is a path to failure.

Changing to an innovation culture, one that fosters an experimental mindset, value creation and looks for opportunities, may not seem intuitive for the construction industry. While it is a large undertaking that requires time, it will position your company to be prepared for modernization and challenges in the future and will pay-off for years to come.

In addition to the economic factors mentioned, there are other indicators that “business as usual” will no longer be sufficient to survive. The long-term labor shortage has companies rethinking recruiting and hiring processes. Changing your corporate mindset from traditional hiring practices based on wages will help you hire and retain top talent. For the employee, especially the younger, incoming workforce, a company with a dynamic culture is more attractive than one that is traditional.

The fast pace of new technology entering the industry also requires a shift in culture. No longer an option, technology such as BIM, drones, and construction project management software is being implemented across the industry. To facilitate the adaption of tech, companies need to foster creative thinking to eliminate roadblocks and objections to implementation.

Lean construction is another initiative gaining traction that requires a culture change. These principles have been practiced in manufacturing since Toyota developed the approach after World War II. Yet, like with technology, the construction industry has been slow to adopt the practice. Based on methodology of maximizing value while reducing waste of materials, time and effort, lean construction focuses on the whole process to remove waste and create continuous improvement. With rising material costs and the continuing labor shortage this trend to work more productivity while eliminating waste is right on time, yet implementing the practice will require a culture shift to a new way of thinking.

Where do you begin? Making this shift is a two-part process; first you’ll need to establish an innovation culture, then it’s imperative to continue to motivate your team as motivated employees are the key to innovation in your business.

We’ve outlined steps to take to change your workplace from business-as-usual to a company prepared for the future.

Steps to innovate

  1. Build collaboration – your team becomes stronger, more creative when they work collaboratively, not separately.
  2. Set metrics – you’ll want to gauge the success of your program. The point is not punishment, which stifles innovation, but recognition and reward for meeting goals.
  3. Think like a startup – emphasize speed and agility and use the “start-up mentality” to disrupt and move ideas along.
  4. Balance operational excellence with innovation – not every process has to change. Recognize what is currently successful, but continue to develop new processes.
  5. Open the information exchange – open the exchange of knowledge to include not just managers providing information, but peer-to-peer knowledge on the job and industry. Insufficient information and poor communication will have nothing but a negative effect on your team.
  6. Don’t discount ideas – not taking ideas seriously will become an obstacle to future innovation and derail motivation.
  7. Hand over responsibility – increasing employee responsibility has numerous positive effects, including creativity and happiness.
  8. Provide psychological safety – give your staff the ability to take risks without feeling insecure or embarrassed.

Steps to motivate 

  1. Provide structure and clarity – while this may sound counter intuitive at first, structure and clarity help employees understand goals, roles and plans and gives them the knowledge of what must be done to succeed.
  2. Acknowledge meaning & impact – If you use an idea, make a big deal about it and show appreciation. Recognize employees and show how their ideas have meaning and a positive impact on the company.
  3. Show your team the big picture – be transparent about the project and direction of company and how their role contributes to success. When the team understand the goals, they are motivated to accept the mission.
  4. Be an example – show them your principles. You can’t expect X, Y and Z if you don’t follow those values yourself. Your behavior as a leader can make or break innovation.
  5. Respect their capabilities – don’t micromanage or “parent” your team. If you want innovative, productive employees, treat them like adults.
  6. Invest in your team – hire not only qualified people, but ones that believe in the company and fit with your culture.

Building an innovation culture as a business strategy is a necessary process to meet the threats, challenges and changes the construction industry is facing. However, by following the above tips, you can start small and continue build for the future.