The value of sharing
Contractor tip of the month
By Tim O’Toole
Perhaps because there were so many siblings in my family, I developed a deep sense of “sharing.” This sharing has attracted wonderful employees, partners and customers to my companies. Now I am no socialist – far from it. But, sharing is incorporated into my outlook on, well, everything. Let’s face it: I am a country boy at heart, and I believe, without hesitation, in God, country and family. If that makes me a sucker or unsophisticated, then so be it.
It is hard to believe it has been 14 years since I started writing this Contractor Tip of the Month. In line with my core values of sharing, I felt if I could share what I have learned in business with others to help them succeed, then others would want to help me, in return. As I watched my company, Lang Masonry Contractors, grow into multiple companies (all sitting under the Watertown Enterprises Group of Corporations), I am often humbled by the good fortune I continue to encounter from the people surrounding me.
With the positive impact this has made on my companies, I insist on all of employees following this path. Sharing knowledge helps people do their jobs effectively, and it encourages personal development and career advancement. It helps boost morale and creates a culture of sharing with the next generation of employees.
To really help others, you have to share what you do to advance your career or business. For instance, Ken Hebert, national sales manager for Malta Dynamics (my new safety supplies company), explains: “You can share the cake, you can share a list of ingredients to make a cake, or you can share the recipe to make a cake. Sharing the cake doesn’t move people forward after they have eaten their fill. Sharing the ingredients will fill in the blanks for the experienced, but leaves the novice more confused than ever. However, if you share the recipe, you enable almost everyone you share it with to succeed.”
I will take this a step further. Sharing with everyone around me just feels good. It is one thing for me to become successful, but I am just one person. The greatest fulfilment is when I can help others become successful as well. I want to expand the culture of sharing, because I know in my heart that, by sharing, you improve everyone around you. Your company benefits greatly, and an environment of prosperity is generated.
Why do I have such a strong belief in sharing? Sharing is a big part of my core values. I believe sharing is essential to the survival of all businesses – not just mine, but my competitors, which represents an entire industry. Ideas and processes, innovation and expertise, and best practices and safety are things I share with those I deal with daily. In return, it creates a desire in them to give back. Even if it is with a direct competitor, I have found if I can help him or her, he or she will help me in return.
I am a proud member of networking and peer groups that share all of the previously mentioned information. And what happens when we share knowledge, best safety practices and work practices? We improve each other, which, in turn, improves the country. This is critical to my vision of true success: God, country and family.
I have launched a new safety company, Malta Dynamics. “Malta” is for the town where the new company is located, and “Dynamics” represents the innovative team I have assembled for the purpose of creating safety equipment that will keep my employees safer on the job. It is my intention to share these products and best practices with other industry professionals, including my competition. Even now, I am creating a group of advisors from companies to help me steer the safety products that Malta Dynamics will make and sell. I learned a long time ago that if you try to work alone, you are more likely to fail. Many believe we will hurt ourselves by helping the competition, as we will have our ideas stolen. To them, I would say that if people don’t know what you have, they don’t know how to help you enhance it. It will most likely go nowhere.
Whether you’re the CEO, a project manager, a salesman or a receptionist, you have a position, a skill set and your experience. To advance your career, I encourage you to share what you have with those around you. It could be a small amount of time you spend with the new person; a mentor program; or a best safety practice. I can assure you that, at the end of the day, you will have a tremendous feeling of satisfaction for what you have shared. Not to mention, at the end of your career, you will have received much more than you have given.
About the Author
Tim O’Toole is the Director of Marketing for the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA). He has a Masters in Business Administration from Webster University and has worked in the masonry industry since 2003.