Better Choices, Better Outcomes

Stop, Keep Calm… and Carry On

As I write this it’s mid-November, the busiest month of the year for NZ’s joinery industry. It’s great to see so many businesses prospering and reaching new heights of performance whilst producing outstanding, quality workmanship and next level service.

It makes me proud to see this increasing standard of customer care, which prompts clients to provide positive feedback, testimonials and even give “thank you” gifts to individual design, manufacturing and installation staff. The businesses who focus on exceptional customer service have a determination to get it right first time for their clients. This results in higher referral rates, greater team satisfaction and better staff retention. I observe that they’re also the ones most likely to be at the top of their game for safety, process improvements and profitability.

At this time of year, tempers can be frayed and there might be a tendency to fly off the handle. It’s easy to concentrate on just “getting things out the door” and stop or drop the focus on behaviours, culture, service and “the little things”. But this is the stuff that can really make a difference!

I urge you, even during this extra busy period, to find a few moments every day to share positive feedback and encouragement with your team. Give examples of good behaviour and results to keep lifting the bar of the actions and attitudes that matter.

 Pause and look around. Who needs 5 minutes with you?

 Expand your toolbox meeting agenda to include Work Well Done and acknowledge your team’s superb efforts that have been recognised by customers. It’s true that “failure is a great teacher” but too often I see a bias towards negative issues or things gone wrong instead of a more balanced approach.

As soon as practical, after the end of 2017 storm has passed, make time to consider what is working well for your team, the challenges that remain, and what kind of leadership you need for you and your business to be at the top of your game in 2018.

You can have cutting edge IT systems, machinery and showrooms, but having an amazing team to run these, take care of customers and communicate with them, is what will make the biggest difference to long term value.

Without a first-rate team, all you have is a building with some assets in it. That’s not what a business is.

Yes, there’s a skills shortage within our industry. However, all of us, whether business owners or leaders, can choose to develop a team of great joiners, cabinetmakers, machinists, installers, designers, and admin support if we take the time to stop, reflect and lead with purpose.

Remember, over the Christmas holidays our people may also be thinking about their next move. So be sure to give them a reason to stay with you and return with renewed enthusiasm.

I wish you a very safe and happy summer break doing whatever you choose to do, and look forward to an excellent 2018.

Ian Featherstone is a business and leadership coach, and owner of Glass Half Full. He specialises in the construction industry, particularly the joinery and cabinetry sector. For more information, please visit