Most bosses agree that two traits their best employees possess are reliability and productivity. In other words, they show up and do their jobs to the best of their abilities, every time. As a contractor, this is important because you often win bids based on when you can deliver a finished product, and in order to do that, you need workers who’ll work reliably.
If you have good employees, it might seem like you got lucky. On the other hand, if you have employees who constantly underperform or your constantly hiring new people, it might be time for some self-reflection. Yes, we said SELF-reflection.
There’s a good chance that your management style might be attracting the wrong kind of employees, or more to the point, turning off the good ones. If you’re serious about learning how to mold young workers into model employees, let’s look at how you can be a model manager.
Lead by Example
Your employees will follow your lead. If you take your sweet time getting to the job site, take long lunches every day and talk ill about your customer or other employees, guess what your employees will do? Just like kids follow the examples set by their parents, your workers will emulate what you do. So, if you want your employees to take the job seriously, they need to see you taking it seriously. Be on time. Take lunch like everyone else. Don’t trash talk people. Employees who like to do those things will quickly realize you won’t tolerate that behavior and either they’ll straighten up, or they’ll ship out. Those who don’t operate in that fashion will appreciate the fact that you don’t either.
If You Want Dedication and Loyalty, then Give It
Employees can often quickly determine between bosses who have their backs and those who do not. If you treat your employees with respect, listen to all sides of an issue before making a decision and generally seem to care about the well-being of your employees, they’ll reward that dedication with dedication of their own. Workers like to feel valued; like you appreciate what they are doing. When they feel appreciated, then they provide you with productivity and reliability. If they don’t feel valued, then they’re going to do the bare minimum required to meet the job description.
Don’t Be a Jerk
This might seem like a harsh label, but you really want to make sure it doesn’t apply. For the record, it’s possible to be a perfectly nice person, but be a jerk boss. Being a manager isn’t something that everyone is good at, and sometimes, methods used to manage the team might come off as counter-productive. For example, if the job hours are 7 am to 5 pm, and one of your workers comes to you and says, “Hey boss, I need to drop my kid off at school at 7 am so I can’t be on site until 7:15, but I have no problem staying until 5:15 to make up for it” and you tell him, “Be here at 7 am or your fired,” is that REALLY necessary?
This is the type of response that gets you labeled a jerk boss. It also makes you short-sighted because that’s the kind of employee you want, the kind that is reliable and responsible enough to come and tell you there’s an issue and also offer a solution. You might think, “Well, if I make an exception for this employee, then the others will expect that too.” And you’re probably right, but more to the point, your other employees will also appreciate that you are willing to work with them. In return, they will work harder for you.
This might seem a bit heavy-handed and like we think all the blame for underperforming workers are your fault. But the fact is, most workers will give as good as they get. Be a jerk to them, and that’s what you’ll get in return, and that’s what the newest members of the workforce will emulate. Be a decent human being and a fair boss willing to work with his employees, and you’ll likely have workers who will walk through fire for you because you’ve shown you’ll fight the fire with them. And that’s what the next generation needs to learn.