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The realities of building during a pandemic can play havoc with our minds. A friend of mine shared the acronym “F.E.A.R” as False Evidence Appearing Real. In an industry like ours we need to make decisions based on facts not fear. So where does one find facts that stamp out fear when employees, executives and owners are worried about the future? And how do we administer those facts that bring about peace, excitement and profits?

Recently I performed an audit for one of Americas’ best home builders to determine where they should begin the work of building a strong culture to conquer F.E.A.R. and strengthen the bottom line. Oddly enough the audit began with random interviews of employees from each cross section. I had no agenda outside of getting to know and hear them. From those dialogues a theme began to rise which led to analyzing a few specific reports. Next, I took the statistics and looked for an “average deviation”. Finally, I recommended a few tweaks to close the deviation gaps.

So where do you start? I recommend that you set up a series of one-on-one meetings with random staff throughout your company. Allow an hour for each meeting (30 minutes should be enough time but you never really know with meetings that have a loose agenda.) Next, highlight the common themes. Then look for reports that speak to those themes. Finally, create a deviation report and make decisions that bring about uniformity.

Uniformity is a powerful tool for strengthening culture and the bottom line, because uniformity turns chaos into clarity.

Dealing With Change

Making the transition from chaos to uniformity tends to bring a bit of chaos itself because people don’t deal all that well with change, even change for the better. Why is that? It’s because they don’t have the benefit of knowing the big picture or the enormous value you've placed on them. So how do you mitigate swirling uncertainty in the minds of your staff?

Well, when my wife Tammy and I were married we made an agreement. I would make all of the big decisions and she would handle all of the small ones. Come to find out, evidently we haven't faced any big decisions. LOL. But think about it… why am I so content in the decisions she makes? It’s because of: all the time we spend together, all the great outcomes I've witnessed, and all the little storms we’ve survived.

The same holds true for your staff. If you begin spending time together; that time will more than compensate for the uncertainty of leadership decisions. What does spending time together look like? For Tammy and I it was our weekly date night away from the kids. For my direct reports it's weekly coffee at Starbucks away from co-workers or a video call when I’m on the road.

For tips about using downtime as an opportunity to review and improve company culture, read more.