Am I Adding Value
When I was 13, I started my construction career by pushing a broom on my uncle’s residential project sites. I followed him around from job to job, cleaning and trying to make myself useful. I loved being around construction, and not wanting to seem like “a tag-along burden”, it was very important to me to keep busy and add value. Whether it was tidying up materials on the trailer, cleaning tools, mopping in addition to sweeping, or even cleaning the dashboard on the truck while he negotiated payment with the owner outside, I always made sure I earned my dollar by adding value.
Fast-forward to today, in a season of project start-ups, the phrase “value” comes up A LOT! An architect might choose a more expensive option and say the reason is that it “adds value”. Conversely, we might find a less expensive material alternate and say we are “value engineering”. Meanwhile, a trade partner is selling us on their means and methods on a particular activity, and again, they say “this adds value”. In turn, we attempt to negotiate self-perform with the owner, once more using “added value” as the reason. So what does adding value mean? Is it adding cost? Is it reducing cost? Is it doing something right? Is it experience? Is it tangible enough to even be defined? I challenged people to tell me what they mean by “value” and I became frustrated that no one could answer. No one could define the “value” that they were selling. Finally, I asked myself, how can we sell something to the owner and not even know what it means? So, I did what every good millennial does and I Googled it. Merging the definitions of “add” and “value”, we get something to the effect of “increasing the usefulness, worth, merit, benefit or practicality” of something. This didn’t help me in the slightest!
What I kept coming back to is my 13-year-old self, just running around making sure I always put in a solid day’s work. In the context of EV, and selling a job, maybe “value” is just simply being confident that our team puts in a solid day’s work. No, I thought, it has to be more than that. A lot of people work hard. Value, I thought, is a field manager that sees a guy struggling and puts on a tool belt to lend a hand. It’s the employee that puts ego aside and says, “I need help”, instead of wasting time and energy on something they don’t understand. It’s making one trip to the hardware store instead of three. It’s walking with purpose instead of a lazy stroll. It’s knowing when to put your head down and grind. It’s knowing when to refill your fuel tank, collect your thoughts, and take a break. It’s the passion to improve something and share it with others. It’s the person that picks up a piece of trash in the parking lot. It’s the willingness to learn and engage in training sessions. It’s the emotional intelligence to understand that my time is better spent elsewhere. It’s professionalism. It’s helping someone find their way at a hospital job. It’s the boldness to hold someone else accountable for safety. It’s showing up on time. It’s thinking ahead. It’s being dependable. It’s the desire and drive to be the best version of yourself and to make every minute count. That’s value.
It is not hard to define value when I reflect on the great people in this organization. We already do a great job at this, but my challenge to you is to always be asking yourself, “Am I adding value?”. If each individual can say yes to that question, then we can become a group that not only can define value but also set the standard for what it means to “add value”.
Contributed by Brett Lesiewicz, Director of Project Management at EV Construction