Work Your Assets Off

Dear Construction Nation,

I sometimes feel like I am on a hamster wheel. It is hard to stop. It seems endless. It can be tiring, and overwhelming. I think many people feel that way these days. This is probably the main reason so many people are rethinking their work lives right now. According to a McKinsey study ~50% of employees right now are looking for, or planning to seek, a new job. When someone leaves you don’t just hire someone and have them be high performing, it takes months or longer.

For those of us in construction, we know we need to be on site for the work to get done – so what can you do? Well, I had a chance to interview Allison Tabor, and good friend of mine, and author of the Amazon bestselling book, Work Your Assets Off: Stop Working So Hard in Business and in Life.

Allison owned and led a structural engineering firm for decades. She understands the complexity of design and construction, and how problems need quick, accurate, resolution. So, I thought she was the perfect person to share ways we can move past this feeling of overwhelm and stress, so many people are feeling today. And to get some ideas for how we can help build a strong cohesive team.

Allison explained to me that most people have a bunch of things they’ve learned and believe. We just go through life unconscious of them, and the impact they have on our life and well-being. She said it’s like we are sleep-walking and unaware of what we are doing.

Allison really believes that you must get your team aligned, but not only aligned within the team, but within yourself. Are you aligned with your own strengths? How can you expect to be successful at the things, that you aren’t good at, or don’t like?

In her book, Allison offers 6 truths (and lies) about some of our common beliefs. These can help you to examine and understand where you are. She says this allows you not to work harder, to become more successful, but rather work using your assets. Here are the “truths”:

  1. Working your assets off, not working hard, leads to success.
  2. It’s better to be great at being you than it is to be good at everything.
  3. The “F” word – Focus. It is essential to Focus OCultivating Unique Strengths.
  4. People want to be treated how they want to be treated, not the way you want to be treated.
  5. People are hired because of their skills, but fired for not being liked.
  6. ShiFT happens when you leverage your team’s strengths. 

The “truths” are designed to help you address some of the working principles you might have, many of which may not really be valid for you. When you are aligned things are easier

Allison thinks there are two primary things to focus on – alignment (work your assets off), and communication. To help with communication, she loves to use the DiSC model to help people understand their strengths and how they might “fit” into a team or job.

I was very excited to hear this! This is my favorite tool, too. We literally use it every day! For a non-profit mediation center I co-founded around 30 years ago, we do same-day mediation in the small claims court. When we train mediators, we always tell them that the dispute is never about what the parties say it is. Most of the time there is a personality conflict, and then the parties make up the issue(s) to justify the personality conflict. We train the mediators, that until you can address the underlying personality conflict it will be very difficult to resolve the issue with the parties. DiSC is a great tool to help them learn to do just that.

I asked Allison about her experience with developing trust in her leadership role. She said her favorite example was when she had all the project team members around the table, including the architect, developer, and many stakeholders. Most of the time each one advocated for their own priorities. When they could sit around the table and work together, and listen to each other, it created some amazing results.

Sometimes the person you least expect, has the most profound idea. And with this approach they didn’t get trapped into this wasted back and forth that became adversarial. Instead, they built trust.

Allison says that most people walk through life unconscious of their beliefs and how they are not aligned.

So to help you personally get aligned, Allison poses seven questions in her book to help you “wake up” and understand your assets, so you can begin to work your “assets off” and not just work harder.

Here are Allison’s Seven Questions, so you inventory of your assets:

#1. What are you naturally good at?
#2. What inspires you?
#3. What have you been doing well easily versus what do you have to learn to do well? 
#4. What situations or opportunities energize you?
#5. Under what circumstances are you at your best? 
#6. When do you feel most fully expressed?
#7. What interest haven’t you explored? 

I think Allison’s message, that we need to examine our innate talents and abilities and use those more, makes great sense to me. It seems it could only make your life fuller and more meaningful – not to mention less of a hamster wheel!!

Blessings to you Construction Nation, and thanks Allison!

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