Here's a book to add to your reading list if you haven't already. To open his session "Don't Just Hire, Manage!" at the 2013 Remodeling Show, owner of Field Training Services and REMODELING columnist Tim Faller encouraged attendees to buy, read, and re-read the book First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham. The bestselling management book addresses 12 questions that a company's employees must be able to answer affirmatively to create a workplace that encourages productivity. Faller addressed the first six questions in his session.
For the book, "two studies by Gallup were trying to find out what is it that the most talented people expect or need from a workplace," Faller explained, "and how do the best managers find, focus, and keep talented employees? They came down to a point where they could break all the research into 12 questions. If an employee can answer 'I strongly agree,' they considered the company a great place to work."
So what does it take to start creating a great workplace? Here's a remodeling perspective on the first six of Buckingham's 12 questions to get you started.
1. Do I Know What is Expected of Me? Helping staff members know their responsibilities starts with good job descriptions, and continues with clear, daily communication. Faller gave an example a lead carpenter going over-schedule on a project, even though he initially agreed to the timeline. "My role is to ensure that I've communicated to him not just that there's a schedule, but what the reasons are for the schedule, and to make sure he agrees with it and understands it," Faller says. "You'll know an employee understands you clearly when they can relate back to you exactly what's expected of them."
2. Do I Have the Materials and Equipment To Do My Job Right? Faller knows remodelers like to buy tools and 2x4s - that's not the issue. "The problem is that we often leave out the information," he says, suggesting that looping in crewmembers on details about a project budget vs. reality, potential scheduling conflicts, and other details can be the real tools they need. "If they know they can increase their production by having this information, but suffer frustrations of not having those questions answered, productivity will go down."
3. Do I Have the Opportunity to Do What I Do Best Every Day? Faller noted that many remodelers complain about the dearth of craftsmen currently available in the industry. But those craftsmen that are on jobsites every day should be put to good use, Faller says. "We all want to have the right people in the right jobs, but are your crewmembers often asked to perform below their own standards of what they think is a quality product?" he asks. "If they have a vision of what quality is and you're asking them to do something less than that, you'll see a drop in job satisfaction."
4. In the Last Seven Days, Have I Received Praise or Recognition? "The habit of most managers is to go to a jobsite and point out all the problems," Faller says. "We inspect to see what's not working." Instead, he suggests, take more time to actively thank people and specifically point out the good things they've done. And remember, praise in public, discipline in private.
5. Does My Supervisor or Someone at Work Seem to Care About Me? This item is less about professional praise, and more about recognizing employees as people. "Some of your employees are going to have personal issues to deal with, or go through a period of burn out at work," Faller says. "The more you can help them, the greater the chance they'll hang around and produce for you."
6. Is There Someone at Work That Encourages My Development? "What if you train your employees and they leave?" An experienced contractor knows the answer is, "What if I don't train them and they stay?" Acknowledging this, Faller adds that not only might they stay, but a trained employee will do better work. "Are we looking for training or tools to help someone make them better at what they do," he asks. "Giving them ways to increase their ability to do their job better will also increase their intention to help us succeed." - Lauren Hunter is senior products editor at REMODELING. Find her on Twitter at @LaurenHunter_HW or @RemodelingMag.