Keeping employees happy
Contractor tip of the month
By Damian Lang
Hiring employees for your business isn’t hard, but keeping them happy is a never-ending job. It’s no secret that business is still tough, margins are tight, and unemployment is up. You would think people would be happy just to have a job, and maybe some are. But, as a leader, you can’t let your guard down for one minute. It’s not enough to give someone an opportunity to report to work every day. There’s always someone out there who says they offer more money on the hour, or better benefits, than you do. What are you doing to keep your best employees from taking that job? As a leader, you have to cultivate your crop of employees and give them an opportunity to grow in what they do every day.
If we fix the people problems, we fix everything. Materials don’t just get up and walk off your jobsite themselves, while keeping you from finishing the job, due to shortages. However, you can run short on materials if the estimator doesn’t figure the right quantity of materials. Equipment doesn’t get emotional about how long it has to work, nor does it complain about working the weekend. Since equipment doesn’t drink alcohol, it doesn’t come to work with a hangover. However the employee required to operate that equipment may drink one too many the night before work, and not show up at all the next day. So, if it’s true that all problems are people problems, let’s assure we are focusing on keeping our best people happy.
If you have been following my articles for any period, you know how I feel about having the right people in the right places. Part of the equation I think people miss is that you have to do something to keep those people excited about coming to work for you, even in the not-so-fun times of the past few years. Think about it this way: What General in the military wants to lead troops into battle when the troops don’t have the same passion and goal that he has? You want to know your troops have your back in the heat of the battle. Business is no different. Struggles and trials are when you really need your people to shine. So, how do you make sure they are “all in?” People can have all the talent and ability in the world; but, if they don’t believe in the sincerity of their leader, they are not going to give you their best work, nor will you see what they truly can accomplish.
Do you let each of your employees know you really care, or are you just pretending you care? If you are faking your sincerity, they will feel and sense it. That is the same as telling them they are playing quarterback, while leaving them set on the bench the whole game. Unless you are planning to do the project an employee is working on yourself, whether you are dealing with a top manager, foreman or field employee, that person needs to know one thing: The outcome of the project is about that person, not you. This lets him know and feel he is part of the team. When you go to a jobsite to talk to a soldier on the battlefield, you should have one goal in mind: Let him know the outcome of this job is about him, not you. This is the satisfaction he needs to continue his career with you.
If I can encourage you to do one thing, it would be to assure that, when you or your managers talk to your employees, you leave them feeling like they matter to you, and you recognize their contribution to the success of the company. It is not enough for us, as leaders, to hire managers and turn them loose. We have to assure that manager comes across as sincere, earning the respect and credibility of the troops, before we let that manager lead our troops into the daily battle we call business.
About the Author
Damian Lang is a mason contractor in southeast Ohio and inventor of many labor saving masonry systems and products. Lang has served as the Marketing Committee Chairman for the Mason Contractors Association of America. He is also author of the book Rewarding and Challenging Employees for Profits in Masonry. To network with Damian on contractor tips or tips you have and would like published, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-749-3512.