construction team on site

Motivate Players to Perform


Do you get tired of trying to get employees to do what you want them to do? They always have what appear to be legitimate excuses why they don’t get the job done on time, or why they don’t follow directions, or why it wasn’t their fault when something went wrong on the jobsite. Perhaps you just can’t find good help anymore. Or maybe people don’t care about doing a good job anymore. Or nobody will take charge, be responsible, or accountable. Do you feel that you are the only one who can do the job correctly?

People are different than you

There is a better way to build your construction business with the people you have. You can get them motivated, all on the same page, and working like a winning team with common goals, drive, and excitement. First, successful business owners and managers know their people are different than they are. They realize employees are not motivated by the same reasons they are. People have different life experiences, backgrounds, beliefs, needs, goals, and personal pressures. Most people don’t think the same as you do. They have different personalities and will act and react differently than you in most situations. Everyone won’t do things exactly the way you do them and with the same intensity. And just because you pay employees a good wage doesn’t mean they’re going to work their fanny off for you.

Younger workers today are very different as well. They like continuous learning and personal growth in their careers. They don’t like dead-end jobs without advancement in sight. They often think they can do your job better than you can. They want to make a lot more money than you provide, and will leave jobs quickly when offered more pay. Their loyalty is only to themselves and what you can do for them. But they also want to participate in major decisions. They want balance in their life and would rather go home early than get overtime hours. Work is not their number one priority as they value family and friends more than their job. You need to learn each employee’s differences, what makes them tick, and then help them achieve their goals in order for you to reach your business goals.

The motivational problem is you

Have you ever gone through several secretaries over a short period of time because you can’t find anyone who will work as hard as you want them to? No one is ever quick enough, or smart enough, or good enough to work for you. One day you will finally realize that maybe the problem is you. You need to take responsibility for motivating your staff. It isn’t their job to motivate themselves. Once you realize this, your personnel problems will turn around, your people will become great, and your employee retention rate will increase.

To motivate your workforce, you’ve got to give them a reason to be motivated. People are motivated for their reasons, not yours. Don’t expect others to understand your passion for customers, or quality work, or the need to make a profit. They must want to follow your vision, achieve your goals, and get the job done properly.

For example, think of your children. You tell them what you want them to do, but they don’t always follow your wishes. Then you try to bribe them—$100 for an “A”, and they say, “Not enough, Dad.” Frustrated, you scream, “If you’re not home by 10:00 p.m., I’m going to kill you!” Of course you don’t mean it. You let them off the hook and they continue to stretch the envelope. The real problem is lack of accountability and responsibility without consequences. It seems like the problems you have with your kids are the same you have with your employees.

Do your people want to follow you

Leaders influence others to want to do what they want them to do. The key words are ‘to want to do.’ Employees must want to do what you want them to do to get the results you want. You tell them and they decide if they’ll do it. When you tell your kids to clean up their room, they decide if they’ll do it based on needs, consequences, accountabilities, and responsibilities, all of which affect their decisions.

Ask yourself: “What makes people want to follow me?” You know what doesn’t work with your children (and employees) – confusion, lack of trust, no integrity, no accountability, and no consequences. A lot of business owners and managers say, “My people won’t do what I want them to do. I should get rid of them, but I can’t afford for them to leave, so I don’t fire them.” What kind of accountability is that? If they don’t have to do what you want them to do, why should they do any more than the minimum to keep their job? You’ve got to make them want to do what you want them to do.

Four steps to motivate your workforce

Exceptional employees require two things – money and happiness. Money includes fair pay and competitive benefits, plus working for a strong company with a good reputation in the community. Happiness comes from being motivated. Your job is to motivate your people to want to do what you want them to do. You accomplish this with inspirational leadership, continuous motivation, clear and continuous two-way communication, an exciting vision, step-by-step directions, holding people accountable, and giving them full and unquestioned responsibility. Your number one job is to encourage and motivate your people to perform with energy, effort, and enthusiasm, so they’ll go beyond where you want them to go.

There are four simple and proven action steps to achieve results with your employees:

1. Provide clear expectations

People need to know exactly what you want them to do and the results you want them to achieve—the expected specific results. Weak managers assume people understand what’s required, don’t take time to spell out what they want, and then don’t make people accountable for achieving desired results. The norm is to tell people to work really hard and try your best. But this doesn’t let people know exactly what’s expected. People must be told and understand exactly what you want— the specific end results. Examples of clear expectations include:

“By Friday, I expect you to have this installed and 100% complete.”

“By the 30th of the month, all invoices must be sent out.”

“No extra work will be started without a signed change order.”

“All timecards must be complete and turned in by 9:00 am Mondays.”

“You must complete all footings within the $750 man-hour budget.”

Be specific with clear targets and define the exact results you want. Make sure your people understand what their individual targets are, what’s acceptable and what’s not, when they hit or miss their target, their consequences for not achieving the results you want, and their rewards for a job well done.

2. Provide regular recognition and praise

The second important action step you must use to get the results you want is to provide ongoing recognition and praise to the people who do the work. Weak and ineffective managers don’t take time to thank people for a job well done. Over time, this causes lackadaisical employees and poor results. In a survey of why people left their company, over 90% said they’d never been recognized or praised by their boss, ever, for anything.

People want and need constant feedback and positive reinforcement for their contributions and efforts. Effective leaders give out praises at least every week to everyone in their sphere of influence. Use words like, “I appreciate you” and “Thanks for a great job.” Keep a simple chart in your day-planner to insure you recognize all of your staff on a regular basis. Strive to praise everyone at least every week and check it off on your chart so you won’t forget someone. Verbal praises work the best but, occasionally, a short, handwritten note to those who went beyond the call of duty is especially effective.

3. Provide a clear understanding of the big picture

The third thing your people need is a clear understanding of the big picture (company, employees, customers, projects, etc.) and how they fit in. Successful business owners, managers, and foreman are open and honest and tell employees where their company is going—its vision, what the future has in store, positive and negatives, and changes or adjustments required to be successful. People need to know what’s happening; otherwise, they tend to fear the worst. Successful leaders constantly tell the real deal—business is good or bad, the future is positive or negative, sales are up or down, productivity is acceptable or not, our people are doing a good job or not. Hold semi-annual, all-company meetings, plus monthly project and department meetings, where the big picture is discussed and open to questions.

4. Provide a caring company attitude

The fourth action step is to let your people know you care about them as individuals. People need to know you appreciate them as employees and contributors to the company’s success. Employees want to know you care about them, their personal goals, future, personal development, and their children and family. People must know they’re important. They want to know they will be listened to and have a say in the future of their company.

To insure you continuously show you care about your employees, keep a “team-member profile” sheet on each person in your day-planner. Include their name, family members, schools, hobbies, sports, interests, goals, challenges, contributions, etc. This way you can refer to it on a regular basis and keep track of each team member’s life.

By following these simple guidelines, you will get your people to want to do what you want them to do, your people will respond, and they will make your life better. Without employee problems, your bottom line will improve and your company future will be brighter. The key to implementing these recommendations is to just do it. All it takes is time, and your investment of that time will equal money in your pocket. Get started and go motivate someone now. Yes, right now!

Business - Commercial Construction Industry

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This article contains general information only. Sunflower Bank is not, by means of this article, rendering accounting, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services. This article is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, before making any decisions related to these matters, you should consult a qualified professional advisor.