Author Archives: Phil Bride

How to make better decisions

Managers need guidance to make better decisions.

Managers need guidance to make better decisions.

Managers at all levels struggle with decisions. And, get this, research on managers across the country continues to validate this.

The decision making ability comes down to knowing how and having a culture that supports it.

Did you know that …

  1. 98% of managers fail to apply best practices in decision making.  Forbes.
  2. 82% of managers have no ability to hold others accountable.  Partners in Leadership.
  3. Decision making effectiveness is 95% correlated with financial performance. Bain Research. 
  4. A good decision framework can “drive 75% better decisions, 2x faster, with 1/2 the meetings and 20% better performance.” Forbes. Erik Larson. HBR. 

Managers need to know how to make better decisions and need the cultural structure around them to execute successfully.

Knowing how to make decisions

It relies on training. First, managers need training so they know the process of decisions. Then they need practice. Lastly, they need mentoring and coaching to build the skills.

What exactly is involved in a good decision?

That depends on the goals of the company. It depends on its metrics, culture, and guidelines for decisions.


A good set of decision metrics comes from Bain Research.

Measure what you manage.
  1. Quality:  Choose right course of action.
  2. Speed:  How quickly do you make a decision?
  3. Yield:  How often do you execute decision as intended?
  4. Effort:  Do you put the right amount of effort into making and executing on a decision.

In addition, making a decision rarely affects only one person. Collaboration, accountability, communication, cooperation all come into play.

A culture to support better decisions

What exactly does culture have to do with making better decisions?

The best, most practical, to-the-point definition of culture is “the way we do things around here.” 

  • How we correct each other when mistakes are made. 
  • How we congratulate each other on successes.
  • Boundaries we just do not cross. 
  • How we disagree and come to agreements. 
  • How we communicate informally and formally. 
  • The degree of openness we accept.

To clarify, it becomes important a culture includes a management team that walks the talk. A management team that lives and breaths the decision making culture.

5 guidelines to make better decisions

Here a few quick guidelines:

  1. Consistency is crucial. Intent must match actions and must match results. So, if intent is in place and action appears to match but results don’t happen, then something is broken. It’s time to fix it.
  2. Code of behavior. This code guides the consistency.  The code helps prioritize behaviors, actions, each decision. 
  3. Communicate goals.  Goals must be clearly stated and assigned. Specific, measurable and attainable. 
  4. Roles clearly defined.  Ambiguity in roles will crush decision making. Saving the day, micromanaging blur the lines of responsibility and push the role back on the person saving the day. 
  5. Decision Framework.  A clean decision framework guides the manager through the most difficult decisions. It guides them through everyday ones. 

Now, put these into place and start making better decisions.

Need help making better decisions with your teams and emerging leaders?

Contact Phil Bride today. 503-753-9971 or

A conversation is easy and there is no obligation.

Get a business plan written – It is time

Continue strategic planning

Now is the time to start the business planning for next year and get a business plan written. Economists tell us we’re due for a correction in the market. In fact, we’re two years past the 8 years expected correction cycle!

Continue strategic planningSo, take the time now and plan your business future.

Just so you know, keeping a business plan in your head might work for awhile. However, keeping a plan in your head does not work long term, especially if you have staff and even worse if you want to grow.

Did you know…

  • 87% of all US businesses are under $5 million in revenue. *
  • 77% are under $500K in revenue. *
  • 32% are under $100K in revenue. *
  • 50% of all businesses are still in business after 5 years at about the same level after year 1 or 2.  **

*  US federal government statistics, 2017
** Bureau of Labor statistics, 1994-2015

Therefore, most companies float along in a very small way in their markets.

Owners spend their time fire fighting. They spend time doing the work of the business…they’ve given themselves a job in the business. And so, owners spend almost no time working on growing their business.

Why start now?

Starting early gives you time to get organized for the next year. You set expectations and goals for the next year. And it gives you a head start.

And, getting a business plan written starts the process of execution.

To get a business plan written forms the basis of all planning, however, that’s not enough.

Reasons why business plans fail

A number of reasons cause business plans to fail. A few from my experience and my client’s experiences (until they worked with me).

  1. Business managers view them as a one and done exercise. Spend a few hours or days and write it out. Done.
    • Over time build a continuous set of tasks around business plans. 
  2. Managers delegate business plans to another person in the company or worse yet to a consultant to write one for them.
    • This results in no ownership and therefore poor or non existent execution.
    • Owners and managers don’t feel ownership and they don’t build plans into projects and daily activities.
  3. Business plans exist only the head of the owner or manager. The owner does not believe to get a business plan written important.
    • It then results in bouncing around. Not firm on commitment to a direction. 
  4. The plans are too pie-in-sky. No one believes them.
    • Next, no one takes the plans seriously.  The Plan du-jour or plan-of-the-month starts happening. 
    • It can also result in deep disappointment and giving up when people miss goals and milestones. 
  5. Managers do not build business plans into daily activity expectations. Yes, daily.
    • This results in plans not followed even when everyone buys into them.
    • Plans don’t fit into operational activities and slowly get ignored. 
  6. Owners and manager do not build plans on strengths and talents of the company and people. They rely on weaknesses and sometime even blind spots for success.
    • Then, wasted efforts happen. You waste time. You waste money and your profit. 
    • Resulting in activities become too hard. Obstacles seem insurmountable.
  7. Managers do not tie plans tightly to values.
    • Prioritizing, saying “No” to non-productive activities does not happen. Decision making gets hard. Things go crazy with busy-ness. 
    • Then, people give up on the plans. “They don’t work anyway!”

So, what do I do to get a business plan written?

Accept, to get a business plan written starts a continuous planning cycle. And, you take several steps prior to writing a business plan.

  1. Business planning always starts with a clear assessment of where you are today. In many business plans a SWOT analysis starts the process. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats of the key people, culture, and company structures.
  2. Business planning continues with establishing a strong foundation of values, mission, vision, your role.
  3. Understand your opportunities, threats in the market.
  4. Establish your financial, market, sales, operational expectations.
  5. Then it goes into developing a goals structure for  monthly, 90-days, 1 year, 2 years and longer.
  6. Write the business plan.
  7. Next it establishes action plans and delegation plans with regular, frequent follow ups to track progress, make the always necessary adjustments and push to achievement.

You could download a template and fill it out. Nothing wrong with a good template. Just a template and a few hours doesn’t work without all the foundational skills and structures in place. It’s like a player showing up for football game with a helmet and a football and no skills or knowledge of the plays and hasn’t been to practices. Not gonna happen.

And, getting a business plan written forms a crucial stage in the business planning structure.

So, start one today. Get with someone to bounce ideas off. Involve people. Get professional assessments done on you and your key managers.

Need help with your business planning?

Phil Bride, Executive Business Coach.

Phil Bride, Executive Business Coach.

Contact us today to discuss more about getting your business planning in full swing.

We do business planning, executive coaching, manager training, professional assessments and help get those foundations in place.

Phil Bride, 503-753-9971.

Practical Business Management Basics tutorial

What does it mean to up my game?
What does it mean to up my game?
Practical Business Management Basics in action.

What practical business management basics do you practice?

In reality, most managers don’t bother to practice these basics. They don’t have time to pay attention to these business management basics.

Read on for the first installment of a short tutorial on the most useful practical business management basics. Use it to jump start your plans.

Pay attention to communication

Since management is 90% working with people, communication forms the basic vehicle to get things done in your job and organization.

To perform, communicating well with each of these groups makes or breaks success:

  • Prospects to drive new business.
  • Customers to sustain a good business.
  • Staff to get things done.
  • Partners to get the organization well structured for accounting, taxes, marketing, IT and other.
  • Suppliers to offer the best products.

It turns out managers misuse communication continually.

  • Give mixed messages.
  • Unclear about what managers want.
  • State the wrong level of detail to people which confuses the message.
  • Communicate in only one style. Managers most likely have people of differing styles around them.
  • Under communicate what they want.

“The problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
~George Bernard Shaw

Establish Values

Why would managers care about establishing values?

Values and behaviors form a foundation of practical business management basics.

Here’s why …

According to Gallup, 33% of US employees are engaged at work.

That means that for each week of work companies get 13 hours 20 minutes of actual work done out of 40 hours.

Wasting time at work. Practical Business Management Basics helps fix this.
  • One big time waster. Time spent texting, surfing the web, talking with others about non-work topics, complaining about work, planning their evenings and a lot more.
  • Next, values drive the decision making through “the way we do things around here.” The values that matter drive behavior, decisions, actions, and reactions.
  • Then, well-formed values aligned with talents of people drive engagement up over 70% according to Gallup. Managers actually get things done!
  • And what we don’t want. Ill-formed, vague, unaligned values create dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors.

So, consider taking action to sharpen your skills in this very important topic.

To learn more …

The Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce and myself collaborated to bring you a “Practical Business Management Basics” workshop. We’ve scheduled the workshop in January.

Learn more and sign up here >>

This workshop is perfect for business professionals, managers, and business owners who are ready to sharpen their skills.

Goals and job costing, become a master of your destiny

Tie goals and job costing together and become the master of your destiny—well, of your company’s destiny.

Goals and job costing go together so you become the master of your destiny.

Goals and job costing go together so you become the master of your destiny.

The typical Job Costing discussion throws a large smattering of options into play. Watch any job costing question posted on a financial management forum and see the wide range of options. And the options are excellent. However, they do take time to wade through.

So, where do you start?

How do you tease this apart into bite-sized steps?

As you may suspect, to get a handle on job costing means you know your profits, costs per job and overall company profitability during and immediately after jobs. And, can effectively project job costs and profits. You become a master of your destiny.

An approach

First, get a good team in place: accountant, tax accountant, bookkeeper who know the ins-and-outs of construction accounting and job costing—an excellent first step to guide you through the process.

Time and again, questions come up about what standard to follow for job costing. The answer invariably emerges as “it depends.” Which can frustrate the person asking.

So, to skirt around this frustration, consider asking a different question.

“What are my business goals and reporting requirements for those goals?”

The answers to this question of goals guides job costing efforts to a clearer path to follow. Job costing become much easier than wading through long lists of options and discussions of, “If you do this, then allocate that.”

Guide to defining goals and job costing

Follow this guide to help refine exactly what you need in job costing. Otherwise you might hear “it depends” when ever you ask what should be done.

A guide to determine the basis for goals and job costing and simplify all the variations.

A guide to determine the basis for goals and job costing and simplify all the variations.

Here are 9 questions to guide you through defining goals and job costing:

  1. What level of growth do you want? Do you want larger contracts, more smaller contracts, mix of both.
    1. What target market do you want to spend your time developing? public, commercial, residential, local, building type, owner characteristics, multiple states, national, or something else?
    2. What level of supervision do you plan to assign per job or across multiple jobs?
  2. Will you stay with one contract type?
    1. Lump Sum or Fixed Price
    2. Unit Price
    3. Cost Plus Fee
    4. Cost Plus with a GMP (guaranteed maximum price)
  3. What profit per job do you want?
  4. Determine the level of rigor do you plan for Change Orders, WIP management.  What is your process?
  5. What level of investment are you willing to make to get details and accuracy?
    1. The more details, the more accuracy the more time and money spent to get it.
    2. Do you want superintendents, project managers to capture daily field reports with job costing, labor, OT, incidents, POs, COs?
    3. Do you plan to automate what you can?
  6. Who will review the job results?
  7. What level of detail do they want?
    1. High level profitability, issues and “what are you going to do to improve?”
    2. Some details about job costing? Look for discrepancies.
    3. Lots of details. Want to go over each job with all costs involved.
  8. How often? weekly, monthly, quarterly?
  9. How will the reports be delivered? digitally, in person with discussion, both.

The answers become a guide

The answers to the above goal questions will guide the discussions around the following questions:

  • Do I include burden and overhead into one percent calculation? What percent do I use?
  • What level of small purchases in a job can simply be allocated as indirect costs?
  • Should I use percent of labor, percent of revenue, or percent of costs as a basis?
  • Should some indirect costs be allocated based on one or more cost bases?

Best practices

A few of good best practices to keep in mind as well:

1. Nail down company goals. Spend some time on them so they don’t turn into new “goals-of-the-month.” You can optimize profits this way.
2. Start with estimating. Estimating defines the structure of job costing. Otherwise you have multiple competing processes in play.
3. Get conversations going between accounting, estimating, and those capturing the job costing data.
4. Become extremely consistent with allocation.
5. Once you have a good set of goals in place, processes will emerge, then you can automate to get benefits of effective job costing.

Job Costing is an involved process. Take a step at a time no matter where you are currently in the process. And be sure to go back to your company goals to get focused on the right tasks.

Learn more >>

Goals set direction, simplify job costing decision making, and let’s you become master of your destiny.

Phil Bride, Executive Business Coach.

Phil Bride, Executive Business Coach.

Contact us today to discuss more about setting goals, direction, and job costing solutions in your company.

Phil Bride, 503-753-9971 for Company goals, direction, business planning and processes.


David Holler, Nov 6, 2017 “Should Company Overhead Expenses be Included in Job Cost Reports?”

CFMA Cafe general forum

“The Book” “Financial Management and Accounting for the Construction Industry” section 3.15 (1).

“Project Delivery Methods & Contract Types” WSU

Where’s your Not-to-Do list?

Ah hem. The right length for a to-do list.

Where is your not-to-do list anyway? You do have one, don’t you?

Ah hem. The right length for a to-do list. Your not-to-do list holds a lot more.

Ah hem. The right length for a to-do list is 5 or fewer. Your not-to-do list can be much, much longer.

My business journey started out with out of control to-do lists. When I ran a small growing vibrant company, my to-do list floated around a  constant 50 actions required by me at any given point in time. Ouch!

During my professional development, which I continue in earnest today, I’ve developed a not-to-do list process. I actively work my not-to-do list and simplified my to-do list.

The not-to-do list process uses the best ideas from business, lean concepts, and leadership practices. I use a very practical method every day for my business. I then share what I learn with my clients.

Five principles for a not-to-do list

  1. Not-to-do list grows longer than the to-do list.
  2. There can many variations of not-to-do lists.
  3. A Kanban style organization of lists gives them a workable structure.
  4. The to-do list is always very short in length (5 or fewer) and short term in time horizon…at most a week, if not a day.
  5.  New items always go into the not-to-list then get moved into other lists. Eventually activities move to the to-do list and into calendar time slots for execution.

To-do lists always live at the end of the planning process and not before. This is often the opposite of all the bad habits we’ve developed and learned over time. Now is the perfect time to change your approach.

A very useful process to implement a not-to-do list

Create various projects based on your business planning process. Having spent the effort and time on planning simplifies prioritizing and decisions for projects and activities.

And, of course, the plans include project SMART goals, obstacles, solutions, activities.

I’ve listed an excellent starting point for Not-to-do list structure. Yes, and the to-do list!

  • Ideas:  These are proposed activities. Pile them here.
  • Planning:  Here the best ideas develop into SMART goals and plans.
  • Active:  The activity now moves into action. Planning activities results in checklists with deadlines and assignments.
  • To-do list:  The activity is defined, assigned, scheduled and will be done. This list is for today. Keep it focused and short.
  • Stalled/Waiting:  Put stalled activities or activities waiting on someone else on this list.
  • Completed: Completed activities go here. Your well done list!

Using a simple, structured not-to-do list gives you control over all requests, great ideas, “you should do it” requests, and those activities you actually do.

Plus, you can take advantage of that part of your calendar that rarely gets used!

Now, use those time slots in your calendar out 30, 60, 90, 180 days or more. They work perfectly well for not-to-do yet activities.

Successful use of a not-to-do list structure requires leadership skills, decision making skills, and prioritization skills. Do it to tease apart all the competing activities.

(References:  The One ThingThe Path of Least Resistance.)

Next steps

Give me a call or email me to discuss how you can start your not-to-do list and nail your leadership, decision making and prioritization skills.

Especially if you have lots of organizational and personal goals.

Take 30 minutes and let’s discuss the issues you face. It’s free.

Phil Bride.   503-753-9971






< 2019 >
  • 02

    The 4-Week Manager Jumpstart

    12:00 pm-1:00 pm

    “The 4-week Manager Jumpstart” webinar course guides attendees through management and leadership basics.

    The basics include communication insights into different personality types, value-based decisions, accountability and a time-tested decision process.

    Attendees will learn to put these concepts into practice in their jobs immediately to better manage teams and become even more productive.

    Consider this a mini-MBA course. A course lathered with practical solutions for new and experienced managers.

    12 pm to 1 pm Each Tuesday June 11 – July 2.

    Course Details  >>

What Clients Say

“After working with Phil, from just one process we cleaned up, we reduced mistakes by 70% and are stacking up cost savings.” —Stan, Construction Business Owner.

“Going through the decision framework helped make a very big decision that was stressing me out. After the decision, I felt a huge sense of relief and our revenue jumped due to better focus.” —Jon, Software Construction Business Owner

“We’ve improved our sales per FTE by 30% once we clarified the gap through the SMART goals and I’m not yet done with Phil’s program!” —Tim, Business Owner

“I recommend that if you want to increase effectiveness, sit down with Phil.” —Michelle, small business owner

Coach Phil

Phil Bride

Professional Business Builder

Executive business coach

It's all about business, development, and execution

Phil Bride, MBA, AIC

Sharpen up

Clarity of direction, confidence in next steps

  • Get a plan you can execute
  • Prioritize like a pro
  • Get control over time

Push to the strategic

Up your game. Make things happen.

  • Set, execute a vision of accomplishment
  • Up your game on leadership
  • Get accountability in place

Align (new) managers

Team alignment—Up to speed quicker

  • Skills development
  • Collaboration
  • Project management


Coaching, training, development, facilitating

  • Professional Development
  • New manager training and development
  • Seasoned manager tune up
  • Strategy and execution
  • Business, Market, Sales planning and execution
Workshops, Classes, 1-on-1