Today I want to talk about the most valuable asset in any of our businesses: the people. The people who work for a company are often referred to as employees, but the owners work for the company as well. We are coworkers. People do not work for me, they work with me. This distinction is an important part of building the right relationships between coworkers, both for the betterment of the individual and the business. Training our coworkers and caring for them is another important part of building the right relationship with our coworkers. We need to train them so that they can do their job well and care for them so that they can continue to enjoy their job. It’s as Richard Branson says, you should “[t]rain people well enough so that they can leave, [and] treat them well enough so that they don’t want to.”
This training requires personal, daily, and hands-on attention from owners. Training requires time and care; your coworkers won’t get better without direction. Without guidance, your coworkers will be left in the dark and without any knowledge of what they need to do to improve. Particularly in smaller businesses, wearing so many hats makes it difficult for the owner to take the time to give due attention to each of his or her coworkers, but we must make the time. We need to walk around and interact with them daily. When we see something someone is doing well, we should pull the group together and point out what has been done well. We should point to someone’s work and say to our coworkers, “I want to show you how well this job was done. This is the kind of thing that makes me proud to work with you all.”
When you’ve got someone that needs to improve, you should pull them or their foreman aside privately and discuss how to help him or her improve. We need to help each of our coworkers improve so that they can do their job better and be proud of the work they do. In this way, raises are not given. Raises are earned.
In a world where it’s easy to lose track of time because of our many responsibilities, it becomes even more important to look after the most important asset to our business: the people. We need to take the time to nurture, encourage, train, teach, and develop our coworkers. We need to stay connected with them.
Learn how to run a more efficient construction company and be more profitable using the systems and procedures discussed within the Rocky Geans Construction Business School. I share lessons from over 30 years leading a concrete construction business in South Bend, Indiana. Plus, you get all the forms, documents, and spreadsheets developed along the way. Interested? Give us a visit to see more about our program.
Several years of consulting with contractors and working with all of their employees has reminded me that businesses really are about the people. It’s about understanding that there is a whole range of backgrounds in the the people we work with, it’s about understanding that not everyone is wired the same way or thinks alike. This uniqueness and individuality means that we have to be patient. As managers and owners, we often meet frustration with someone or their performance, but we can’t just complain about it. We can vent for a few minutes, but then we need to look at what we can do to improve the situation. Letting what can’t be changed aggravate us will help no one, and it will certainly not help the people who are counting on us.
This frustration just makes communication that much more important. There is no way for every employee to know exactly what every manager is thinking, but there has to be a common understanding between co-workers. This means that frequent and fluent communication within a business is crucial, especially in times of change. As leaders, we need to reach that understanding and describe our vision, give our employees an idea of what lies ahead. We need to communicate with the people we work with, we need to take care of them, be aware of them, and appreciate them. Business is about people, and people cooperate through communication.