Three Tips For Balancing The Needs Of Employees, Clients And Suppliers As A Leader

Josh Thompson is the founder and leader of Thompson Exterior Services, a construction and building maintenance company.

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My time as the head of a construction and facade maintenance company has taught me that as a business leader, you are required to balance many priorities. By being the face and leader of your company, you become responsible for balancing the needs of buyers, suppliers and employees. What might be best for one might not be suitable for another. Sometimes, there are even differing needs among people in the same category, such as employees in different departments.

Finding the best balance in your company is hard and takes work, but it is necessary for the success of your business. While there is no magic solution that will take all priorities and needs into account and ensure everyone gets what they want, some general guidelines can help simplify finding a balance in the company.

Identify everyone’s needs.

Balancing only works when you know what you are balancing. By identifying the needs of employees, clients and suppliers, you can pinpoint their actual needs or expectations. Sometimes, before you take the time to specifically identify needs and expectations, you might think different groups’ needs and expectations are in direct conflict. But when you take the time to analyze them, you might realize they do not truly conflict.

For example, in construction, it might seem like a client wants a whole project done by a certain time, but that timeline is not something your employees can realistically achieve. Then when you speak with the client, you realize that there is only a very specific aspect of the construction project that they want to be completed by that time, which is doable for your employees.

Oftentimes, what a person’s needs or expectations look like from the outside are not necessarily fully correct. Identifying what these expectations are can make the act of balancing much simpler.

Set clear expectations.

If everyone assumes they will receive everything they want, then they will be in for an unhappy surprise. It is impossible to meet everyone’s exact demands, and making that clear from the start can help reduce future issues.

Take an example from facade maintenance and construction: A client might want a project done by a certain time, but we cannot finish it by that time because the needed supplies will not have arrived yet. I should convey that to the client in the beginning. This is extremely important in balancing the client’s needs and expectations, as it helps create more realistic expectations that are, therefore, easier to balance.

Prioritize.

Sometimes, the needs and priorities of different groups will be in conflict. In those cases, you need to decide which groups’ needs you must fully address and which groups’ needs for which you can find a compromise. This is the unfortunate truth of being a business leader: You cannot always make everyone happy.

One way to help prioritize is to keep the future of the company, its mission and its relationships in mind. Employees, suppliers and buyers all play an important role in these three aspects of the company. Depending on the case, whose priorities you must meet will be dependent on how it will affect these three aspects.

For example, while changing suppliers is not something done lightly, you might find that you need to change suppliers to continue to meet the company’s mission and future direction, along with the priorities of your employees and clients. Prioritizing is definitely difficult, but it is an essential part of balancing everyone’s priorities as a business leader.

Being a business leader in the construction and facade maintenance industry is a job I find especially rewarding and fulfilling, but it comes with its challenges. Identifying needs, setting clear expectations and prioritizing can help ease the process of meeting everyone’s needs. I’ve found taking these steps makes a huge difference in the process of working with all different sides of your business and making the whole process more enjoyable.

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