by George Hedley
How many times have you said to yourself: "It seems like workers don't care." "Can't anyone take some initiative?" "No one accepts any responsibility except me!" "It seems like people don't get excited about doing a good job anymore!" "If only we could find some decent help!"
At the same time your employees are thinking: "They don't know how to run this place!" "They never give me any authority to get the job done right!" "They tell us what to do and then change their minds!" "I feel like a number around here!" "I do all the work, and they make all the money."
Are people your top priority?
As your business grows, you set goals and begin to make a profit by installing field, management, financial, marketing and sales systems. (See previous articles in this series) The next logical step in the "Business Success Blueprint" is to create people success and training systems to get your business to work for you. Perfect operational systems without people won't work! Your talent must become your top priority to hit your goals. The "war for talent" is real and your only solution is to become the 'employer of choice' and build a great place to work that attracts, retains and trains the best people in your industry. Does this help wanted ad attract you?
Construction Help Wanted
Some days it'll be freezing cold and others hotter than hell. When it rains or snows - too bad; you go home without pay. The job starts at 6:00 am and ends when we run out of work. Most days you'll be dirty, messy and working in dangerous conditions. You'll do heavy lifting and get real tired. When we're slow, we'll send you home without pay. We'll train you, but you better do it our way. The pay is average and as you get older, you'll become less valuable and might be replaced by a younger or faster person. We are desperate for good help so give us a call and apply for this job.
Most construction workers are underpaid, under appreciated and under trained. Most ministers, school teachers, nurses, garbage collectors, mail carriers, and office managers make more money and have better benefits and training than construction workers. Ninety nine percent of all high school graduates do not want to work in construction. This makes it harder and harder to attract workers to your company. Younger workers want jobs that pay more than average. They want to work in a comfortable environment, sit at a desk with a computer and won't do any heavy lifting. In reality, there are enough workers. They just don't want to work in construction field or for your company! This makes it imperative to install people and training systems to build entrepreneurial excellence.
Remember your first job? When hired, you were excited to do a good job, respected your boss and were willing to do anything you were asked. What happened over the next few months happens every day at companies like yours. Employees loose their enthusiasm as they get to know their boss and are not treated properly, taken for granted, not given proper tools, provided unclear directions, not allowed to offer any input into decisions, are told what to do, and treated like hired hands. This causes good employees to act poorly. Then the boss complains he can't find any good help!
People who work for you are different than you. They are not machines and need to be treated as individuals who have lives, families, dreams, and priorities other than work. Remember the old management style? Managers do all the thinking, supervisors do all the talking and workers do all the doing. The manager's job was to keep people busy while the worker's job was to do as little as possible while looking busy. This old management style doesn't work today but is still being used by struggling small business owners and entrepreneurs who think they are the only one who can think or do things right!
What people want!
Successful managers install systems to coach, train, empower, motivate and encourage their people. The difference in winning sports teams is usually the coach, not great players. A recent study concluded that 97 percent of employees said they don't get enough recognition from their boss, but if they were given more appreciation and respect, 98 percent said they would do more. Today's employee wants:
- meaningful & satisfying work
- accountability & responsibility
- pay for performance
- engaging & invigorating assignments
- upwardly mobile work
- a better quality of life
Employees are not as loyal as older workers once were. They know by changing jobs, they can make more money, find better opportunities, become challenged, or do fun and rewarding work. Their loyalty is to their bottom-line, not yours. Younger employees also don't trust their boss, like informal arrangements, need teamwork, want to participate in decisions, need to be informed and involved, expect continuous learning and a high tech workplace, and want balance in their life. Fifty percent of workers today say they would give up pay for more time off.
What would your employees say about you as their boss? Are they proud to work for your company? Do they have some control? Do they believe they can make a difference? Do they have freedom from micro-management? People don't don't leave companies, they leave managers or bosses. A great employee success system will improve profitability, customer service, employee retention, and reduce stress. A great place to work has an exceptional working environment where people want to produce results.
Hire slow and fire fast
Do you have employees you wish you never heard of? Do you have employees who's purpose is to make your life miserable? How did they end up at your company? Generally poor performing or problem employees are a result of hiring too fast when companies are desperate to fill slots. The management style of hiring now and fixing them later doesn't work. Employees are too often hired based on what you hope they can do regardless of their resume. Then they're put into jobs without proper indoctrination, little training and then left alone to learn on the job without feedback or coaching.
With a proper interview system including scripted questions, detailed reference checks, resume reviews, and personality testing, you can hire right up to eighty percent of the time. Poor companies don't have recruitment or hiring systems in place. What do you do to attract great people to work at your company? You can't hire people who don't apply and aren't recruited. The old way of analyzing candidates was to take out an ad, look for experience, interview and hire fast. The successful employers now slow down and look for:
- determination and drive
- talent and potential
- ability to perform
- consistency and responsibility
- personal life in order
- self motivation
- teamwork and competitiveness
When reviewing potential employees, look for signs of responsibility by asking if they own a home or have a family. Seek teamwork and competitiveness from people who played high school sports. Look for talent and potential by asking about their life accomplishments and school activities. Ask questions about their personal finances to see if they know how to make good decisions. When interviewing, you often want people to be the right employee so badly, you only listen for the right answers instead of the real truth. Hire attitude and aptitude and then train skills.
How to attract great people
1. Decide recruiting is everyone's job
2. Make recruiting company wide
3. Pay people for referrals
4. Offer signing bonuses
5. Have company recruiting brochures
6. Have recruiting business cards
7. Make it easy for recruits to apply
8. Use phone interviews to qualify fast
9. Have regular weekly interview time
10. Create a simple application
11. Offer gifts to applicants
12 Ask suppliers and customers to help
13. Hold monthly career workshops
14. Get involved at high schools
15. Offer summer jobs
16. Offer craft training Saturday
17. Hold career days
18. Offer scholarship programs
19. Let recruits visit jobsites
20. Become the employer of choice
21. Build a great place to work
Motivate people to perform
If you have children, you know it's tough getting them to do what you want them to do. When attempting to get my kids to follow directions, I tried everything - pep talks, incentives, quality time, two way communications, and listening. I learned nothing works with your kids! Supervising and managing employees is exactly like being a parent. So, how do you get people to follow your orders? You're probably an expert on what doesn't work: confusion, threats, lack of trust, bribes, no rules, no rewards, no praise or recognition, no direction, and lack of accountability. So, what is the best way to motivate people to do what you want them to do? - Make people want to do something! A companywide system to give people what they want will help you hit your bottom-line goals.
Employees need and want two things. Money gives them the basic requirements to show up and perform at the minimum level. Money will not get them to perform to their maximum ability. You must also provide motivators - things to get people to work with more energy, more effort, more enthusiasm, and allow them to fulfill their potential, accept responsibility, and become accountable. Many old school bosses don't offer motivation, praise, recognition, or encouragement. They often say their people continually complain about money. When there's no motivation to do a good job, more pay is the only thing that people can get to help them tolerate a bad situation.
Motivators that work
The top motivators to help people become the best they can be:
1. Clear understanding of expectations
2. Praise and recognition
3. Understand the big picture
4. Appreciated and cared for
In order for people to be effective, they must know what's expected of them! It's pretty hard to stay on course if you don't know where you're going or have a map to get there. Ask your key people the top three priorities they're responsible for. I'll bet their answers aren't what you thought they'd be. Most poor performing people don't know exactly what they're supposed to do and how you want it done.
For example, my field superintendent tells me he'll be 'done' with his project in three weeks. Three weeks later I visit the jobsite to find the project has not been final cleaned, the trailer is still on site, the power is not turned on and the phones don't work. I ask why he isn't done and he disagrees with me and says he is done. He thinks 'done' means calling for final inspection. To me 'done' means done with nothing left to finish. The problem is no clear understanding of what was expected.
In order to establish clear expectations, you must take time to explain exactly what you want, show visually how to do it, ensure they fully comprehend directions, and then reinforce with coaching and training. As you work on 'your' communication problem, people will start to want to take on more responsibility and do more work.
Regularly recognize and praise
Your people have a sign hanging around their neck that says: 'Make me feel important' or 'Show me some love!' The second important people system is to provide regular appreciation. People need positive strokes week so make it your priority to recognize at least one person everyday. Get out and catch them doing something right and make them feel good about what they do for you! Imagine a football game where the crowd only cheers at the end of the game. Or a company where the boss only praises at the annual review. People are like batteries - as they discharge, they need to be recharged at frequent intervals.
1. Keep recognition tracking checklists
2. Make sure everyone gets recognized weekly
3. Start the day with positive encouragement
4. Be a motivational cheerleader
5. Positive greetings make positive people
6. Tell people you appreciate them
"I appreciate your efforts."
"You did a good job on ..."
"Thanks, keep up the."
7. Give out positive strokes weekly
1. Personal thank you from boss
2. Written thanks from boss
3. Promotion for performance
4. Public praise
5. Morale building meetings
8. Look for the good
9. Use words that wow!
3 words: I appreciate you
2 words: Thank you
1 word: (their name)
Worst letter: I
10. Show you care about them
- Ask them their dreams
- Follow their family
- Listen to their goals
11. Tell them the big picture
- Hold company meetings
- Recognize accomplishments
- Share the future
- Tell them what's new
- Tell them the good and bad
12. Give time off for extra effort
13. Give everyone business cards
14. Spend 1 day per month with the team
15. Take employees to lunch with you
16. Buy crews lunch monthly
17. Give people tools to improve
18. Give everyone company shirts
19. Provide home computers & email
20. Praise accomplishments in public
21. Spend 33% of your time with people
Train to retain
Most companies hire people with potential and then let them learn on their own. Most Fortune 500 companies have training systems to insure they maximize the return on employees. These companies invest in each employee on average forty hours of formalized training every year. How much training do your provide? Could you improve your bottom-line by maximizing productivity and eliminating mistakes? You need to train to retain and improve employees.
Training involves doing and not just telling or showing people what to do. You can't learn to ride a bike by watching others. I learned to win sailboat races by sailing lots of races. All the books, lectures, videos, and meetings wouldn't teach me the tactics to win. To build an excellent company, training must be on-going and continuous for everyone.
How to train others
1. Tell them what to do
2. Show them how to do it
3. Let them do it
4. Watch them do it
5. Coach them through it
6. Recognize them
7. Follow-up and give feedback
As you train, ask if they completely understand. Remember they really can't do things well until they've done it a few times and you have coached them through the process. Show your key people how you want things done and then let them train their employees. This will elevate their leadership skills and make them accountable and responsible for end results of their people. In my previous article number 3 in this series on creating systems, I discussed how to identify problems. Identify what you need to train and then make your program train topics at least once or twice every year.
Start a training ladder to track your employees' progress. This system provides a path for people to become more valuable and earn more money for you and them. List every task needed to learn along the way, a timeline, minimum standards required for each position, and then track their progress.
It is best to train every week for at least fifteen minutes. This minimum training program will keep people focused on doing things right. Every month or quarter, provide a half day training session to cover topics in a more in-depth way. Remember, training is not an informational meeting or a lecture from the boss. It involves doing the tasks so for field training, go to a jobsite to make sure everyone understands how to do it.
To build an entrepreneurial excellent company requires excellent people. You can try and get lucky by hiring and firing people until you get the ones you want. Or you can make people your top priority. You can get your business to work by installing people systems and a training program. The choice is yours!
George Hedley owns a $75 million construction and development company and
Hardhat Presentations. He speaks to companies on building profitable businesses,
leadership, and loyal customers. He holds 3-day in-depth "Profit-Builder
Circles" open to construction company owners in an interactive roundtable
format every 3 months. His "Profit-Builder System" includes proven
tools to always make a profit, build equity, create wealth, win profitable
jobs, motivate your people, and enjoy the benefits of owning a profitable company.