Case Study: NZCBIA
Providing practical tools to construction industry professionals
The NZCBIA’s president recognised that many of its members were having issues around people management and also with pricing. Jason Dinan at EXCC provided NZCBIA members with practical tools to tackle these challenges in the Art of War masterclass series.
About Frank Xu
Frank Xu is an experienced construction industry professional; he holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering, and a Master’s Degree in Project Management. During his 14-year employment at Fletcher Construction, his roles included project manager and site manager. Frank later founded his own construction and property development business, IP Living Limited, which he grew from a one-man business to a large enterprise with 40 employees.
He is now the founding president of the New Zealand Chinese Building Industry Association (NZCBIA), as well as the executive project manager and deputy general manager of the Shundi Group. Shundi Group is the developer of Seascape: a 187-metre-high tower, which will be the second tallest building in Auckland’s skyline, after the Sky Tower.
The NZCBIA has around 130 members, covering the entire supply chain in the construction industry: architects, developers, consultants, builders, contractors, and materials suppliers. The overall vision is to lift building industry standards in New Zealand, and the NZCBIA achieves this by focusing on four key objectives:
- Representing the Chinese building and property development industry in New Zealand.
- Enhancing public understanding of the Chinese building industry by acting as a bridging organisation with the general NZ building industry.
- Promoting and strengthening professional development in the industry, so there is professional leadership.
- Providing networking opportunities.
When Frank owned IP Living Limited, his construction and property development business, he realised that the biggest challenges were around people – specifically, around retaining skilled staff and contractors, and also around pricing. Frank observed that many other Chinese building and property development companies were facing the same challenges, which drove him to establish NZCBIA – with professional development being a core focus.
Frank says: “I noticed that all these similar companies were in the same sort of cycle where they grow very fast and become very well known. Then they hit the ceiling, because of problems around staffing and pricing, and some unfortunate ones go bankrupt. Many companies don’t last very long. So there are lessons we need to learn, and although we know a lot of stuff, we don’t know it all, and that’s why we engaged Jason’s services, so our members can get over these kinds of hurdles.”
“In my own business, I hired project managers to take over my daily work so I could concentrate on the bigger picture, and grow the business. But the challenges around people were continuous. I had five project
managers whom I’d trained up, then three of them left. I’d recruit more, but then the two remaining trained people would leave. This cycle was never ending. It’s very hard to manage this kind of business once it reaches a certain size.”
“Because so many of the issues NZCBIA members faced were around people, we engaged a consultant before working with Jason. We found that all their work was theoretical – there was very little practical stuff. Their advice was good, but not practical enough. When we engaged Jason, I was initially concerned that the material would be too theoretical. But Jason is very humble and very willing to listen to me, and we came up with a format that works well and is practical.”
THE ART OF WAR: LEADERSHIP & SALES CAPABILITY DEVELOPMENT
The Art of War is a series of three leadership and sales capability masterclasses. It is designed for business owners, general managers, CEOs, heads of sales, and operations managers in any industry.
Each of the three levels in the Art of War consists of:
- 6 months of training.
- 4 x 5-hour live online training sessions with Jason Dinan.
- 12 group coaching calls with Jason Dinan.
- 36 online modules that you can access anywhere, anytime.
- Networking opportunities.
Jason created a programme called the Art of War, and heavily customised it to suit the needs of NZCBIA members. The programme covers leadership capability training and sales training, and is delivered via a mixture of live online training, group coaching calls, and online learning modules. The programme is split into three levels; currently, NZCBIA members have completed Level 1, and Level 2 is underway.
The blended learning approach allows networking and interaction between people which fits in well with the NZCBIA’s objective of increasing networking opportunities between its members.
Says Frank: “I pay my fees as a student, but I’m Jason’s assistant and co-facilitator in the training sessions, and I add to what he says by relating his points back to the industry, whether it’s a study or my own experience. That brings the theories to life, and makes the content practical and meaningful. This is very important when you’re working with people in the construction industry, as they are only interested in practical things.”
“Jason’s tools are very useful, and he’s helped with the implementation side of things too. He went above and beyond by working with some of the participants on implementing the theories in their own businesses. It’s my goal for myself and for the members to learn Jason’s tools until they are unconsciously competent at them, rather than having to consciously work it out every time, or refer to a checklist. It’s not good enough to be consciously competent; we need to learn how to apply things immediately and automatically.”
“Jason is very accommodating and flexible in how we run the programme; he’s very open to ideas and has done a good job customising the course to our needs.”
“I can see the changes in some of the people Jason trained last year,” says Frank. “For example, one of the attendees is a project manager who often struggled in his role because he became too emotional. Through the training, he’s become more self-aware and knows to follow processes and procedures, without becoming overly emotional while doing it. Jason’s content has really helped with that.”
Know the enemy and know yourself – with Extended DISC
Frank says: “Extended DISC is so helpful. Not just in understanding yourself, but for more effective communication with others. Being able to assess another person’s behaviour style is very helpful. I’ve used it with my business partners, and it’s helped us understand each other better, and we’ve found new ways of resolving issues. It’s very interesting and I’ve found it very valuable. It’s like Sun Tzu says in the Art of War: ‘If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.’
Practical and useful tools
“The tools Jason teaches – from the sales process, leadership, Extended DISC, communication, vision, purpose and values, hidden weaknesses, SMART goals, DUMB goals – he puts it all together in a different way that really makes you think, and it clarifies your thinking.”
“Working on the sales process was extremely helpful. We knew how to do parts of it, for example, presenting to clients, but now we have a better understanding of all the different aspects. For example, we’ve learned that we need to know early on who the decision maker is in a business. And what kind of pain points that person has. And from there, we know how we could help that client solve their pain.”
Seeing the bigger picture
“Another way that Jason has helped with our people issues is around staff retention. We’ve learned that helping staff with their career development, for example, is a great way to retain them, instead of continually adding monetary benefits, such as more salary. Jason went the extra mile by facilitating a session with myself and my business partners around our vision, purpose, and values. I was a bit shocked to find that some of my partners have completely different motivators to me, which explained why we were often working in different directions. Through Jason’s facilitation we’ve been able to integrate our vision, so we’re now working towards common goals.”
Recommended for leaders and future leaders
“The programme is strong in both leadership capability and sales skills – what you get out of it depends on where you’re at now, and where your greatest needs lie. Most people do need training on sales, leadership, and people skills. I wish I’d had these kinds of opportunities to learn when I ran my own construction business, it would have been very powerful.”
“I’d recommend Jason’s training, it’s very worthwhile. I’d recommend it to all NZCBIA members and to the construction industry in general. I wish I’d had these kinds of opportunities to learn earlier on in my career, it would have been very powerful.”
– Frank Xu, Founding President of the New Zealand Chinese Building Industry Association (NZCBIA)