contractor health

Office Politics and Gossip

My dad raised my brothers and sisters and me on the phrase, “If you’ve got nothing good to say, say nothing.”

Well, in corporate America and elsewhere in our society today where face-to-face and cyberbullying is rampant… that ship has sailed.

The question is should you participate in this?

In the old days (think Seinfeld TV show era… no… not the syndicated reruns or what you pull up on your phone from YouTube) there was always the water cooler topics of the day. The show itself was a catalyst for talking about a lot of things that had formally been taboo or just not thought of, or at least never expressed that way was safe or kind of safe to talk about.

The reality is that in our more politically correct era too many topics are off the table for discussion (probably should have always been the case), and we can weigh the pros and cons to that, but the reality is that there is office dynamite – that’s office gossip and office politics (different than the politics of our government but also something highly charged if pushed too far).

The truth is that we must accept that you’re never going to totally stop the Office Gossip and Politics because we, as people, love to talk and hear ourselves talk, and there’s a part of us that likes throwing others under the bus, and that for some is human nature.

What role do we as owners have in all of this?

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Goals, Beliefs and Actions: The Foundation of Leadership

When I first moved out to Phoenix, I brought the souvenirs of my career with me – a bad back and bad knees. My wife suggested that I sign up for a Yoga class, which I did with the sole purpose of my getting some physical relief.

Okay, I’ll admit it. I now love Yoga! It has been life-altering both physically and mentally.

One day as I was stretching out in class, the teacher was talking about some different philosophies. One of the things she mentioned is that if you set goals and you have actions attached to them – but you never seem to reach those goals – the step you might be missing is belief.

An illustration would be you’re a heavy person, like I’ve been most of my life, and you have the goal of losing weight. You know all of the actions – eat right, eat smaller portions, and exercise more often. But if you don’t believe that you’re a thin person – if you believe that you’ll always be a heavy person – it’s never going to change. So what we need to tie together are our goals (what we want to achieve) and what we really believe. And make sure that what we believe is in sync with our goals. And then take the appropriate actions that will make those goals a reality.

This applies to running a business every bit as much as it applies to your life.

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The Importance of Getting Away from Your Business

I grew up working in my family’s heating business. And my dad’s coaching to his very young sons was, “We don’t do winter sports or take winter vacations.”

Basically, it meant every living breathing moment from Labor Day till April 1st was to be spent working in the business.

That made for a crazy time that could wear us and our employees down.

But, the nice thing was my wife saying to me in summer, “You home again?” or, “You’re going out to play golf again?”

That all changed when we branched out into the plumbing and cooling trades. Then, we had to be available 24/7/365. And my wife then began to say, “Are you ever coming home?”. Or, “When are we ever going to have time for a vacation?”.

The answer, for a pretty long time, was “never”.

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The Importance of Power Napping

One of my first jobs at my old company was working with the credit manager, Meyer. Meyer was an interesting guy — really ahead of his time in the early seventies. One of the things that he did was to drink six to eight glasses of water a day. Another one of the tricks that he used for managing his age (being in his late sixties) was to take what he called a power nap during his lunch break. He explained that the nap gave him more energy when he got back to work.

As years went by I began working very long days. One day I stumbled across an article about the people of Japan. It was about how they were very industrious and worked extremely long days, which included required socializing with clients at the end of the day. One of the things they did was to build a room at their offices for people to take power naps — a 15 to 30-minute nap each day. This restored their thinking by giving both the body and mind a chance to rest and reset.

Why You Need to Stop and Eat Lunch

When the busy season hits, most of us are guilty of dashboard dining. For those unfamiliar with the term, it means we don’t have time to stop and eat lunch so we roll through a fast food drive-in and eat as we drive. If we’re really patient, we’ll take all of two minutes to pull over in the parking lot, pile the food up on the dashboard and swallow our food whole without coming up for air.

Some people in an office order in and eat away while they’re trying to handle the phones, computers and more.

What’s worse than all of this is skipping lunch altogether. I should know I used to do that all the time years ago.

It didn’t help my weight since I was generously only 40 pounds heavier than I should have been according to my doctor and my knees. The reason is simple. When I skipped meals especially late at night when I was running calls, I would finally stop to eat and now I was ravenous and I’d eat everything that wasn’t nailed down.

Fortunately, a smart mentor of mine schooled me about the need to stop even if it’s just for 30 minutes to recharge the batteries and to shake off what’s transpired.

The funny thing is when I got disciplined about this good habit I was actually more effective and more productive than when I’d either wolf down my lunch or skip it altogether.

7 AM to 7 PM is Normal Service

7 AM to 7 PM is Normal Service

In years of seeing a lot of different clients, I prefer to work for people who have jobs and value their time as much as they value their money. Today these ideal clients are typically dual income households. That means they work long hard hours and they tend to be first coming home late in the day.

The only way to win them as clients is to serve them the right way and on their schedule.

Think about it. When these choice customers come home and find issues at their home that require they call a contractor what is it they’re most likely to get starting around 4 PM? an answering machine!

Maybe you have a professional answering company, surely an improvement, but it’s not anywhere as good as answering your own phones. Why? Because you have a vested interest in the outcome and they don’t.

Also, you have more power to convince a Tech to either stay on late or come out and do a call where they are more likely to blow the call off altogether or go and just mail in their effort when they field the call or they get the message from an answering service. When this happens, it’s the customer and the company who are poorly served.

So, what’s the answer?

Living On Caffeine, Nicotine, And Something Else?

Everything is much clearer in retrospect. I look back at my days as a contractor and things are clearer now than they were when I was facing problems to overcome.

I was living on caffeine to get me up and running in the morning and I needed more to keep me awake during a mid-afternoon crash. Even with my morning and afternoon caffeine doses, I still needed more to get me through long nights of work.

Caffeine wasn’t the only problem, I also was a non-stop eating machine. When I was young, I could sort of get away with it, but all the bad habits were being put into place at a tender age.

7-tips-survive-returning-vacation

7 Tips to Survive Returning from a Vacation

How much do you dread going on vacation just because you know the hell you’ll face when you return to work?

I know I always loved and hated going on vacation.

That’s because I had to kill myself to clear up the backlog of work so I could go on vacation, there were calls I had to field about work while I was away, I was worried about what was going on while I was gone so I was always checking in and finally there was the pile of stuff waiting for me to do when I got back.

It got to the point I started to dread going on vacation instead of relishing them as a chance to unplug and recharge.

The occasional disaster and the routine foul-ups drained any joy feeling I had from having gone on vacation.

That is until I learned how to fix my company and fix my thinking. I was the problem and I finally decided it was going to change.

Here’s how my brothers and I learned to not only take charge of our company but get our lives back one vacation day at a time:

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