EZG Manufacturing
Federated Insurance
Fraco USA, Inc.
Hohmann and Barnard, Inc.
Husqvarna Construction Products N.A.
Hydro Mobile, Inc.
iQ Power Tools
Kennison Forest Products, Inc.
Mortar Net Solutions
Non-Stop Scaffolding
Southwest Scaffolding
Tradesmen's Software, Inc.
Watch closely. Observe the situation. Then, “You Make the Call.”
Watch closely. Observe the situation. Then, “You Make the Call.”
November 28, 2014 7:00 AM CST

You make the call

Contractor tip of the month


Have you ever listened to fans cheering for their team at a sports event? Take a basketball game. Make it high school with a family member or friend playing out on the court. With emotions running high, fans scream objections, even accusations at the referee for every call that doesn’t go their way, putting tremendous pressure on her. An inexperienced referee (or a poor one) may be influenced by what the people in the stands are yelling, cave and allow it to lead to bad decision making. On the contrary, a good referee makes herself oblivious to her surroundings. She doesn’t hear what people yell or say. She doesn’t see white or red jerseys, she only sees what happened, and makes the call based on what she saw.

In the business world, a manager makes decisions every day. If she makes decisions based on what people are saying behind the scenes, instead of what she observes on the job, she will become weak, and a poor manager. If she makes decisions to improve things, based on what she sees happening everyday on the job, while ignoring reactive grumbling, she will become wildly successful in the end.

Recently we made a big call at our manufacturing company, by installing a software tracking system. Our purpose is to find out how we do financially on every single product we build. Eventually, we will raise prices on low margin products, or cut them from our line. Then, we will focus our attention on building and selling the most profitable products. Our team members work on up to 30 different parts of separate products on any given day. So, measuring the cost to build each machine or shop job by recording every aspect of what one is doing each shift certainly is not something anyone is crazy about doing.

One of the managers who is leading the new software implementation called a meeting recently with me and our CFO, plant manager and engineer to discuss some issues the co-workers are having with the project.

He said, “I think I have a solution to help drive the new system we are installing. It could take some stress off everyone up here. I have a friend who has a great attitude, is an expert in computers, and can assist our team in fixing the issues.”

“Fantastic,” I replied.

“Wait a minute,” he says. “I also have a deep concern. I am new here, and I know other staff members are already wondering why you hired me in the first place. If I bring in a friend, what will they say next?”

I told him we have a vision, a direction in which we want to take the company, and that he is here to help us get there. We can’t be affected with raised eyebrows, balking or objections of the rest of the staff. We made the software implementation based on careful observation. As long as his friend could help us accomplish our long-term vision, hire her now. In fact, if all your friends can come on board, and help us reach our goals, bring them on as we will take them all. I gave the thumbs up signal as we all laughed.

Referees do make bad calls. Games are lost. Even the best referee or manager will make a mistake. It happens. However, if you stay focused and make decisions based on what you see is best for your company, ignoring the self-interest, chattering and objections of those around you, you will benefit your company greatly. Others will notice this and allow you to grow to heights you never thought were possible. In return, the company will reach unknown heights as well. Watch closely. Observe the situation. And then, “You Make the Call!”

About the Author

Damian Lang is a mason contractor in southeast Ohio and inventor of many labor saving masonry systems and products. Lang has served as the Marketing Committee Chairman for the Mason Contractors Association of America. He is also author of the book Rewarding and Challenging Employees for Profits in Masonry. To network with Damian on contractor tips or tips you have and would like published, contact him at or 740-749-3512.


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