The Secret to Success is Doing Things a Little Bit Differently

By Charlie Kimmel on October 31, 2019

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Rick Barry made his mark on the world of college and professional basketball. He was a skilled small forward who averaged 37.4 points per game during his senior year at the University of Miami, and he was the second overall pick in the 1965 NBA draft. But he’s best remembered as a prolific free-throw shooter: he led the NBA in free-throw percentage for several consecutive years, and when he retired in 1980, his free-throw percentage (.900) was the highest in NBA history.

So what was the secret to his success? He did things a little bit differently. While the vast majority of basketball players shoot overhand free throws, Barry was famous for his unorthodox underhanded shots. This technique was not only incredibly effective, but it also set him apart as a player and contributed to his popularity.

Construction companies can learn a lot from Barry’s strategy of doing things a little bit differently to achieve success. Most companies don’t need to worry about their employees’ free-throw techniques. But all of them need to set themselves apart from their competition and establish strong reputations in today’s highly competitive market.

Prioritize People Over Processes

One easy way to get a leg up on your competition is by paying special attention to the most important part of your company: your people. When most companies implement improvements, they focus on their processes: streamlining scheduling, improving safety training, and updating HR policies are all common examples of changes companies make to their processes. While keeping your processes streamlined and efficient is absolutely important, the truth of the matter is, most people who leave a company do so because of the cultural aspects of a company, not the processes. When it comes to how a company treats its people, there are two major areas that usually need the most improvement: onboarding and retention.

It All Starts with Onboarding

When it comes to onboarding, don’t make the same mistake many companies do and assume that onboarding starts and ends within the first few months of a new employee’s start date. You’re establishing your company’s reputation and setting the tone for a candidate’s entire career within the company from the very first time you meet with them, so start making them feel special right away. Keep an open line of communication throughout the hiring process, and avoid canceling or rescheduling interviews whenever possible - you want to show the potential new hire that they are a priority to your company. Put your best offer on the table right away; you don’t want to risk insulting or losing out on a candidate by low-balling them over a few thousand dollars. Once the employee starts, remember that new employees are needy - and they should be! On the list of life’s most stressful events, changing jobs ranks third, after losing a loved one and getting a divorce, so even an excited new employee is likely experiencing a high degree of stress during the transition. At least 20% of employee turnover happens within the first 45 days of employment with a new company, so that time period is critical. Touch base with new employees frequently to make sure they’re settling in, and remind them of how excited you are to have them on board.

Retention is Key

After an employee is successfully onboarded, the risk of turnover may decrease, but it doesn’t disappear. To strengthen your retention strategies, there are a few simple (and inexpensive) places to start. Make sure that company leaders are connecting with every employee at your company, from the field team to the C-suite. Keep your salaries and benefits competitive within your market. Include your employees’ families in company events, and make sure to tell every employee how valuable they are to your company.

Just like Rick Barry, construction companies will find that doing things a little bit differently can make a huge difference in their success - and help ensure a lasting legacy. And remember: you don’t have to do everything perfectly, but if you put in the effort to make small improvements in these key areas, you will be doing a much better job than the average company.

The Author

Straight from the desk of

Charlie Kimmel

Charlie Kimmel

President & CEO

Charlie Kimmel has dedicated his career to executive search. Charlie is an honors graduate of the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He began his career at Kimmel & Associates as a recruiter in 1990.

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