Construction Business Management

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Striving for Excellence

The word "excellence" is used many times in the book, Construction Business Management: What Every Construction Contractor, Builder & Subcontractor Needs to Know, from which this article is taken. And for good reason. While it is possible to fail in any venture even with the strongest dedication to excellence, you will rarely see enduring success in any individual or business organization in which excellence at all levels was not demanded and practiced from within. Setting excellence as your company’s standard means not just "getting by" with the minimum requirements of the task or project at hand, and it is not merely a slogan. It means that what may pass as "satisfactory" performance to others is unacceptable to you. Excellence is an internal standard that you and your top echelon employees establish for every level of your organization and demand that it be met—in the reports your bookkeeper produces, for your cost estimates, in placing the concrete foundations you build, in the finishes in the buildings you turn over to project owners, for your relationships within your company and with your customers and others on the outside, in the image you and your employees project for all the world to see, and so on.

If you as the leader, owner, and manager of your organization do not practice excellence yourself, you will not be able to successfully demand it from your associates, and you and your customers will not see excellence in your company on any consistent basis. The concept of excellence cannot simply be worn as a badge. It must come from your conviction that it is crucial to your success and from your unrelenting requirement that it be met as it is defined for the various parts of your firm. Your employees, and certainly those in managerial positions, must internalize it as well. If they do not or cannot internalize it (i.e., make excellence their own conviction and not just go through the motions in their effort to please you), you will be frustrated in your efforts to grow the kind of organization you want and to provide the level of service and product quality that is essential to lasting success.

Finally, don’t confuse excellence with perfection. Set as your goal, excellence is consistently achievable. Perfection is an ideal that is neither practical nor affordable in the commercial world.

Nick Ganaway is the author of Construction Business Management: What Every Construction Contractor, Builder & Subcontractor Needs to Know.

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