Building Top Crews and Management

Quick tips for bringing your team to the next level

Let’s face it – the employment struggle is real.  I have yet to find one contractor that isn’t dealing with the pains of the labor shortage and lack of training.  It’s true… the industry can truly use a boost, and vocational training programs should be more widely available and developed.  Rather than reviewing the obvious, it’s time to talk about working with the team and crews that you already have in place.  We could all use a skilled recruiter in our back pockets, but the truth is that attracting and retaining new talent will depend quite a bit on how attractive your company culture and current working conditions are to start.  Will there be opportunities for growth within the company?  Will you offer training and career development?  These are questions that your current team and future hires will be asking you and themselves before they join or continue with your company.  Here are a few areas to consider when building your current team and attracting new talent to your business:

  1. Moving on Up – While it is important to hire from within, you also want to make sure that any “move up” is the right move, rather than a matter of timing, convenience or need. Especially in small construction firms, it is easy to offer a promotion to a high-performing individual, without assessing if the new role is right for him/her.  One’s performance level in one position may be very different in another if he/she does not have the skill set, expertise and/or experience in the new scope of responsibilities.  While having opportunities for career growth is important for attracting and retaining top employees, carefully assess whether or not that person’s abilities and interests are an appropriate match for the position.  Although they may appreciate the new challenges and opportunities, they most certainly will not appreciate being set up for failure.
  2. Raise the Bar – In my days as a young athlete, I had a coach who had a helpful catch phrase; although he would scream it rather than say it, I have always applied the sentiment to sports, business and life. He would exclaim, “Don’t get comfortable!” As soon as you get comfortable, so will your team potentially get comfortable with mediocrity.  Don’t get too comfortable – Challenge your team to achieve more and motivate them to expand their knowledge base and experience beyond their required “duties”.  Provide regular trainings, safety updates, management seminars (on and off site), and incentives and compensation for higher learning.  Education will not only increase the strength and professionalism of your company, but it will also build employee morale and confidence as they gain a greater understanding of their work and the industry.
  3. Facilitate Teamwork – Not everyone is going to work best as part of a team, and that’s OK.  Some employees may be better suited for isolated projects or singular focus areas.  That being said, you must have an environment that lends itself to a team mentality.  Communication and delegation are key components to a successful management team, and if the team is not cohesive, goals and objectives will not be streamlined and shared.  Some ways that you can build and nurture a team environment for your management and crews is to have regular team meetings that provide an open forum for feedback; employees should be recognized for their contributions and input, and open and constructive conversations should be encouraged.  Some businesses find team building workshops on an annual or semi-annual basis help reinforce team unity.  Grouping a few employees together on a new project or proposal can also force groups to work together and learn from each other.  New employees or departmental shifts should include “shadowing” for a period of time so that training on process and procedure is consistent and team members are empowered to teach and learn from one another.

There are many management and team building resources available through books, magazines and online; it would take a lifetime to learn and incorporate every tip and trick out there.  The best course of action is to find the methods and resources that best fit your business, company culture and budget.  A little time invested in your team building on the back end will result in hefty returns in your home building on the front end.

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