Restoring Success: Independence in Restoration

By: Lisa Lavender

As I celebrated Independence Day with my family, fully clad in red, white, and blue, I took a moment to reflect. I marveled at the displays of pride, celebrations, and the recognition of the men and women who have protected and fought for the United Sates of America’s independence. I was personally proud and humbled, enjoying the sense of comradery with fellow Americans on the Fourth of July. Our country’s celebration of independence is based on the vision and values of our founding fathers, rooted in the principles of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

As I considered the power of independence, I thought about the joy of a child who is learning to walk; they discover a new level of independence and autonomy. Their happiness and pride in the new-found skill is clear even without being able to communicate a single word. When my daughter recently got her driver’s license, there was a celebration of independence.

As I engaged a recent high school graduate enthusiastically beginning his career in the restoration Industry, I eagerly told him of all the opportunity that existed in the industry if he applies himself and works hard. With a big grin on his face, he told me that his goal for the first year is to learn and be trusted to go to a job site and do his trade by himself. I was thrilled to hear about his aspiration and plan. He is working towards independence which he understood would need to be earned.

As an organization and individuals, independence is a powerful feeling and can be a part of a healthy culture that fosters growth, development, and loyalty. Organizations that allow the individuals to works toward and achieve independence can enjoy the benefits of a team of restoration professionals who have a sense of pride and are able to grow and develop. Organizations that achieve independence in their own right can be timeless, overcome challenges, and reduce/control vulnerabilities.

For individual restoration professionals to achieve independence:

  • Have an environment that is easy to learn within and offers training and education.
  •  Allow for failure. Independence is a journey and like the child learning to walk, one will fall, falter, and make mistakes. If someone is harshly punished or scolded upon stumbling, it will be vastly less likely they will continue to try and ever succeed. Encouragement and a little help will go a long way.

Parameters and rules that allow one to grow. When a child is learning to walk, stairways are blocked or gated until they are ready for the next challenge. With parameters and rules comes management and leadership, whose job it becomes to let go, trust, and delegate as their team members earn that privilege.

 Managers and leaders in the company need to let go, delegate, and trust those in their reporting lines for the good of those they are leading, as much as for their own independence. It gives managers and lead-ers the time and energy to focus on other things that can add value to the organization, as well as their own self-development and growth.

For the organization to achieve independence:

  • Independence comes at being fully committed to your values and purpose. Everyone should live and breathe them and they should be front and center.
    Restoration companies must be able to accommodate standards, regulations, and a variety of other ex-pectations that are set forth in the industry; however, when the business operates with complete clarity of its own values and sense of purpose, you can more easily navigate through using your values as a com-pass.

Do what is right and just – that is true freedom, independence.
As I left for my Fourth of July vacation, I was asked “who is put in charge” when I am gone. I stared blankly and did not know what to say because I don’t put a “person in charge.”
My response, “everyone knows what to do and will do their job.”
“But, what if there is a crisis?!”
I replied: “The person in charge of the area with the crisis will know the right thing to do.”

Like many things, solution-finding and problem-eliminating through root cause analysis should be part of your company’s culture and like many things it starts at the top. Finger pointing and excuses should be re-placed with proactive and constructive problem solving as a team.

To get started, the following article and site provides some guidance to help you and your team on the road to improving:

Basic Elements of a Comprehensive Root Cause Analysis Investigation Steps and 3 Tools that Organize and Improve Your Problem Solving Capability By Mark Galley (

“The terms failure analysis, incident investigation, and root cause analysis are used by organizations when referring to their problem solving approach. Regardless of what it’s called there are three basic questions to every investigation:
1.What’s the problem(s)?
2. Why did it happen (the causes)?
3. What specifically should be done to prevent it”
Your extractor breaks down on the job site. You are standing there with no operational equipment. Maybe it is clogged or maybe it is a mechanical issue? You solve the immediate problem by getting it operational in the field or by getting a replacement unit to the site. The job gets done. Either way, there is a loss of efficien-cy and an unfavorable impression left with the customer.
Why did this happen? A variety of contributing factors may have caused what ended as the effect: non-operational equipment.
1. Lack of equipment maintenance program.
2. Lack of proper cleaning and filter maintenance after each use.
3. The equipment was discovered to have an operational issue a week prior; however, was not tagged for repair. Lack of equipment repair tagging process.
Consider the big picture positive outcome if the potential and related contributing factors that caused the equipment failure were mitigated and/or removed. There would be a large scale and positive impact on your entire operation.
Next time a problem arises, challenge yourself to look at the root causes and start problem eliminating.