Tag Archives: employees

Creativity in the Building Products Industry

22 Mar

Practice Creativity to Get the Best Results

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“To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong.”

Creativity is a funny thing. People often label themselves as creative, or more likely they say, “Oh, I’m not the creative type.” If you’re in the former category, its time to rethink your creative position.

Especially in the building products industry, creativity is more than designing a great product, putting together a fabulous sales presentation or making your meetings exciting.

Creativity sparks innovation. Have you heard of the artist Henri Matisse? Old age and illness made using his hands more difficult and he became bedridden, but he didn’t let it be a hindrance. In fact, he made a breakthrough in his final years with a new form of art. He found that he could still hold and use scissors, so he cut out colored paper to form beautiful work. He made creativity a choice. He opened his mind to being creative and reached outside of his comfort zone. Are you doing the same thing? Here are some tips to add creativity to your life:

  1. Stretch yourself. Be like Matisse and don’t accept limitations. Set a goal that makes you make choices that you haven’t had to make before. This could be as simple as going for a walk over lunch, meeting in a new spot or rearranging the furniture in your office.
  2. Choose to connect with life and other people. Start a creative network of people that you can share ideas with and provide support to each other. This could be a professional organization in your area, a handful of like-minded people in the office or a new group waiting to be formed.
  3. Change. Think about the rules in your life… Do they need to change? Change can be scary, but it can also be powerful. The building products industry has been doing a lot of things because ‘it’s the way its been done’ but our industry is changing and now is the time to make changes to thrive in the future.

Bottom line – choose to be the best you. Take the best ideas around you and improve on them and don’t hold back for the risk of failing.

For more information, check out Sam Harrison of Zing Zone, a creative author and speaker.

The Building Products Tablet Revolution

16 Oct

Masonite’s homepage, as seen on an Apple® iPad®

Are Your Dealers There Yet?

In the marketing world, we’re consistently early adopters of new technology, from social networks (anybody remember Gowalla, Brightkite or Whrrl?) to devices like tablets. By now, if you’re like many of us, you may have already gotten rid of your first or second tablet and upgraded. With normalcy like that, it’s easy to forget that in our industry, technology isn’t always adopted so quickly. This is especially true at lumber and building material dealers. To help, we’ve put together a quick list of ways dealers should be thinking about tablets as a marketing tool, written for them:


  • Is your website built to work correctly on tablet devices? Some websites require little or no change here, unlike mobile devices (smartphones). But if your website utilizes Adobe® Flash® technology, it’s time to budget for some website upgrades. Talk with whomever manages your website about updating anything created in Flash to work using JavaScript® or HTML5, both of which are as close to universally acceptable programming languages as you can get, and can duplicate a lot of what Flash offered.
  • Resource – a short guide to the differences between traditional desktops/laptops and tablets when designing: http://venturebeat.com/2012/05/12/how-to-design-web-sites-for-tablets/


  • Looking for a relatively inexpensive way to incorporate displays into your showroom? Tablets can be a perfect way to showcase video of a specific product, offer a way to view your entire product offering, handle special orders, contest entries and more. And thanks to other companies using them in showrooms, as well as tradeshows, there’s a wide selection of applications to utilize, as well as lots of different mounts, podiums, frames and other ways to securely utilize your tablet in a showroom.
  • Resource – how a remodeling company uses tablets as a mobile showroom: http://www.daily5remodel.com/index.php?action=article&rowid=1018


  • If your organization has outside salespeople, tablets can be a huge time and money-saver. If you utilize one of the major CRMs, such as SalesForce®, Sugar CRM® or Microsoft® Dynamics®, there’s an app designed that your salespeople can use to manage the sales process while they’re traveling. If you’ve ever had issues getting salespeople to fill out activity reports, giving them the ability to do it via a tablet could be the answer.
  • Even if you’re not ready for CRM management via tablet, they can still prove useful for a salesperson in the field. Instead of lugging around order forms, brochures, catalogs and more, you could equip your salespeople with a tablet, loaded with all the product catalogs in PDF form, which can easily be reviewed with a customer/prospect and emailed right to that person if needed. Those catalogs could be supplemented with video or a photo gallery showing your company’s work in that product category. Once a quote is needed or a sale ready to submit, the entire thing could be done right there on the tablet. Orders can be submitted faster and you should be able to eliminate the need for someone back at the office to enter orders that were written down or submitted by fax.
  • You can even collect payments from customers via credit card, securely & instantly, using a tablet!
  • Resource – here’s how a Midwestern builder revamped their production process using tablets: http://www.prosalesmagazine.com/technology/ipad-invasion.aspx
  • Resource – here’s how an Arizona independent car dealer remade its sales process around tablets: http://www.apple.com/ipad/business/profiles/rcauto/

The possibilities of what can be done with a tablet continue to grow; remember, we’re only in the 3rd year of them reaching the critical mass stage! Beyond the flashy, “cool” factor of using one, there are true, tangible cost savings that can be realized by incorporating them into your business in places that make the most sense. Ready to get started but not sure how? Check out Apple’s guide to using tablets for business: http://www.apple.com/ipad/business/

5 Steps: Work with HR to Create More Engaged Building Product Employees

2 Oct

Working with HR can create more productive and engaged employees

As a building products CMO, you’ve no doubt crossed paths with HR, but how closely do you work with them on messaging to your employees? HR continues to evolve into a more strategic role as they focus on talent attraction, engagement and retention and they can be your greatest advocate and help create a stronger company built on a foundation of productive and engaged employees. How do you achieve this? The first step is to pair your strengths at brand messaging with HR’s perspective and expertise on your workforce. Here are 5 steps for working with HR to create a stronger workforce:

1. Gauge employee engagement

  • The first step in creating more engaged employees is to see where they stand now. Begin with research to get a pulse on your workforce. Send out an online survey to see where your employees stand and how they feel about your building products organization. Even this step shows your employees that your organization cares about them and is working to make improvements.

2. Create an employer brand

  • Use what you learn from the employee engagement survey to create a brand that your employees can connect to, while also furthering leadership’s vision for the future. A brand workshop using the data you receive and a few select executives is a great way to establish the right brand for your organization.

3. Work with HR to align employees with company goals

  • Create a plan to bring the brand to life. Host employee meetings, send out emails, hang break room posters, send a direct mail piece to your employees homes – whatever it takes to let them know that you are listening and value them.

4. Communicate, communicate, communicate

  • Once the brand has been developed and communicated, develop a strategic communication plan to build employee engagement. This should include ongoing communication like newsletters, videos, emails and other consistent touchpoints.

5. Test your progress

  • In order to see if your efforts are paying off, send out an employee engagement survey each year. While a lot of factors play into employee satisfaction, a consistent communication campaign can make a big difference over time.

Committing to a plan to strengthen your workforce ultimately strengthens your company. Engaged employees are more productive, more efficient and more likely to bring fresh, new ideas to your organization. They are more likely to over-deliver and your customers are more likely to come back again. So, what are you waiting for?

Motivating Employees in the Building Products Industry

16 Nov

Ensuring that your employees are motivated and providing their best work is essential in any company.

Having motivated employees can make all the difference in your company, but motivating employees can be a difficult and complicated task. Motivation has been at the forefront of behavioral studies for years, but in Daniel Pink’s new book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us  he takes a deeper look at the keys and what you can do. As a CMO with a seat at the executive table, knowing these factors can make you a better leader.Below are some tips, along with insight on how this could work for the building products industry.

What we know about motivation:

  • If you award a behavior – you get more of that behavior
  • If you punish a behavior – you get less of that behavior

Why our thinking is upside down:

  • Studies show that once a task calls for even basic skills, a larger reward leads to poorer performance
  • If>Then motivaters work for routine tasks (simple, physical, mechanical, etc), but once the work gets more creative or complicated, If>Then motivaters don’t work
  • So unless you’re motivating your employees to put widgets in a box as quickly as they can, don’t offer them a reward for their outcome – it’s distracting more than anything.

A note on paying people:

  • Fact: Money is a motivater. If you don’t pay people enough, they won’t have motivation. Pay people fairly and the money issue comes off the table.
  • Although this is especially hard in the building products industry right now, people are constantly judging fairness, so make sure your payment structure is transparent and impartial.

What Pushes Employees to Do Their Best? Three Motivating Factors:

1. Autonomy

  • Management is a technology from the 1850s designed to get compliance. But more than compliance, we want engagement.
  • Self direction > management
  • Autonomy is judged by 4 areas: Time, tasks, team, techniques
    • Allow people the freedom to choose what they do, when they do it, who they do it with and how they do it
  • Be careful: bosses always think workers have more autonomy than they really do

2. Mastery

  • Mastery is the single biggest motivater.
  • People are most motivated and most satisfied with their work when they make progress on something that matters. Celebrate progress.

3. Purpose

  • If people know the purpose behind what they’re doing, they will flourish. Always describe the “why” of a project, even ifs it’s a small part of the bigger picture.

Sources and Additional Articles

Employee engagement and the building products industry

10 Nov

Creating a high-performance work environment impacts the bottom line and makes good business sense.

It seems safe to assume that all of us over the last few years have had to make tough personnel decisions. Layoffs, facility closings, pay-cuts, frozen bonuses, and no annual salary increases have been a reality as we shifted our expenses to align with the lower revenue stream.

Is employee engagement in the building product industry just a laughable idea or could we see it played out? Is it terrifying to think about surveying your employees to figure out the level of engagement? Can anyone in the building product industry conduct this survey and get results that improve engagement?

The NC Office of State Personnel defines employee engagement as “the extent to which employees are passionate and excited about their work and consistently strive to deliver quality results.” Engaged employees are excited about their work and work to provide quality results for their organization. Many factors, including leadership, supervision and work environment, can impact employee engagement.

Highly committed employees perform up to 20 percentile points better than less committed employees, and are 87% less likely to leave the organization.

The Corporate Leadership Council found there is a real bottom line impact of employee engagement. Unless your employees are highly engaged, they will not expend the level of effort required to move your organization forward. The degree of employee engagement determines the level of employee commitment.

There are two kinds of commitment: rational and emotional.

Rational commitment is:

  • The intellectual reasoning that leads employees to remain in an organization (e.g., salary, health benefits, etc.)

On the other hand, emotional commitment:

  • Reflects the feelings that employees have about their jobs, such as whether the work performed is of value to the organization
  • Drives discretionary effort – how hard an employee is willing to work, going “above and beyond” what is required
  • Emotional commitment is 4 times as valuable as rational commitment in increasing effort levels

Conduct an Employee Engagement Survey

An Employee Engagement Survey will help your organization determine engagement and thus organizational commitment. This survey can go to line workers all the way to the head of the organization and can be used for any size group, whether it’s a random sample, a work unit or the entire organization. It is extremely important that management respond to the survey results once the results are collected.

So, here’s a challenge to all building material leaders . . . take a chance, conduct an employee engagement survey and get a baseline to learn from and improve.

Sources and Additional Articles

Building Product Staffing: 4 Reasons People Don’t Do What They Are Supposed To Do

20 Oct

How to fix employee engagement and direction.

Ever noticed that people don’t always do what they are supposed to do?  Although always frustrating for management . . . with the staff reductions we have all faced over the last 3 years in the building products industry, these traits can be debilitating.

I read an article recently in American Express Open Forum that outlined 9 different reasons people don’t do what they are supposed to do.  Here is a short list of the most important ones that relate to the building product industry.

1. They misunderstand the nature and scope of their work. 

Sadly, instead of asking questions or signaling their confusion, they muddle through each day. Though their focus should be on figuring out how to accomplish specific goals, co-workers and vendors dictate their priorities.

Fix: Clarify your expectations for their position, updating and refining their job description as needed. Coach them on techniques for dealing with outside pressures. Confirm that you will provide direction and support but make sure that they develop the ability to stand on their own without your continual intervention.

2. Always in a hurry.

For whatever reason, they want coworkers and vendors to execute their ideas quickly. They may have had a late-in-the-season epiphany for a marketing campaign or new product introduction. Or timelines are generally inconsequential to them.

Fix: Establish firm lead times that are nonnegotiable, especially if certain ideas require execution by work areas with limited resources. Alternatively, establish processes to execute quick turnaround on ideas with high ROI potential outside of your regular workflow.

3.  Lacks discernment and is unable to sort through what’s important and what’s insignificant.

Overloaded with information and short on insights, they waffle on decisions, defers action until they gets more clarity, and chooses unwisely.

Fix: Provide regular coaching sessions to step them through the process of making sound decisions consistent with your company’s mission and its values. Communicate direction and get involved in helping them make difficult choices early rather than later.

4. The wrong person is in the job.

You discover that he doesn’t have the problem-solving abilities, mental courage or leadership abilities that you thought he did when you hired him. He doesn’t really understand how to bring innovation to the company, which you need now more than ever.

Fix: Realize that not all problems can be remedied by changes in your approach. Instead of struggling with a difficult person who is slow to adapt to new circumstances, can’t sort through workload without hand-holding, and the like, change the assignments of your staff members or find a replacement who can do what he is supposed to do.

In the building product industry we are working in today, each FTE is critical to the outcome of the company or not necessary.  Sometimes, after all the course corrections, the wrong person is in the job and needs to be replaced.  Hard decisions are necessary with the current constraints of the building product industry.

Sources and Additional Articles