As my father and I built a restoration business together, these are some things I wish I knew. In the company’s initial stages, I embraced two ideologies “Get Sh**t Done” and “Transactional leadership.” I would define “Get Sh**t Done” (GSD for short) as overwhelming yourself with so much work that you feel burnt out from it. I went through it once the company reached its first $3 to $5 million a year. Knowing that I couldn’t keep up with “getting sh**t done,” I felt burnt out as a mentor and support system for my employees. I knew I couldn’t continue down this path.
Adding transactional leadership to the mix didn’t help my case. This type of leadership works as an exchange between the manager and the employee. The manager gives something to get something else in return. Employees who perform well will earn rewards; if not, there will be some sort of consequence. There are three fundamental principles to this leadership style.
The first is “do,” you’ve either completed the task yourself or asked someone else to do it. The second principle is “check,” you verify if the job was complete. The final principle is “next.” You simply move on to your next task. For example, you might tell your tech to complete flood cuts and follow up to see if they completed the job. If they do, they can successfully move on to the next task, etc. So imagine having to do this with every employee. The stress would be unbearable. So what can you do to overcome this?
It took me some time to figure out that transactional leadership wasn’t an effective method of running the business, and that’s when I changed to transformational leadership. As a result, the focus shifts to the outcomes that the employee produces. As a leader, your primary job is to train and coach your employees to deliver a specific outcome.
The steps to accomplish this is making sure that the outcome is clear. So instead of saying, “Go do this,” or giving a direct command you can instead explain in further detail what you want the result to be. By using transformational leadership, you are giving your employees ownership of how tasks get done. If you want your employees to feel like they have ownership of how to reach that specific outcome, you can explain to them what you want the result to be, such as collecting the money faster, instead of telling them to call the adjuster.
The second step is measuring if we accomplished the outcome. It is something you can monitor on a weekly or even daily basis. So let’s say you discover that Susie can collect the money every 30 days. You now have get a better sense of the timeline for seeing results.
We dive into step three, becoming a good coach. As a business owner or leader, you are responsible for being your staff’s best support system. Your ability to mentor your employees highly depends on that. Learning to be a good leader is probably the most challenging task. It’s not something you can quickly learn or magically accomplish overnight. It’s a combination of learning several different skills and applying them to support your team. By doing so, Susie and other employees can achieve the desired outcome faster and more efficiently.
The failure to see results right away may lead to you falling back into old habits like GSD. It’ll make you want to call the adjuster yourself. By doing this, you’re creating the pattern where people get accustomed to you completing the tasks that they won’t see the need or even feel the urgency to get it done. So what can you do to avoid this? Take a step back and evaluate how you can be a good coach and how you can teach them to accomplish the task themselves.
As a result, you avoid adding more tasks and stress to your workload. Transformational leadership contributes to growing and building a company you love. Otherwise, continuing to apply transactional leadership will only get you so far. You will eventually reach a point where you not only get overwhelmed with your workload, but you also grow to hate the business you’re trying to build.
I recommend you try out transformational leadership for yourself. It will help mold you into the leader you truly want to become, and at the same time, you’re helping your employees improve because of it. By building up your employees, you’re also building up their chance to produce better outcomes for the company.
A former co-founder of an 8-figure fire & water restoration company based out of Chicago, IL. Alex is passionate about propelling the insurance damage restoration industry into the future. In addition to Albi, he partners with restorers to accelerate and scale their restoration business. Feel free to follow and add Alex on Facebook and LinkedIn.