By Jenn Danko
By nature, the commercial construction industry is relatively autonomous, says Sheri Kashman, member of the British Columbia Human Resources Management Association. Because many workers perform their duties independently at outside job sites, managers need effective motivational strategies to keep their projects moving on schedule and employees delivering top work.
"It is essential for managers to visit job sites not to micromanage employees, but to establish a purposeful realignment of, ‘This is who we are, and this is what we are here to do,’" Kashman says.
Here are some other strategies small business owners in the commercial services sector can implement to achieve success and minimize turnover.
Cultivating a well-motivated team starts during the hiring process, Kashman says. Business owners form the most dynamic teams when they hire employees who are not only qualified to perform their jobs, but also passionate about them.
"The skills are always going to be out there, but finding the right fit is much harder," she says.
Eric Schapira, president of Klondike Contracting in Vancouver agrees. His full-service renovation, construction and design firm employs 15 to 20 people who, he says, all have a shared vision for the future of the company, which is what motivates them to excel.
"Make sure you surround yourself with a team that is eager to grow themselves professionally in the company because they are passionate about their industry," he says. "We put them in an environment where we can support and foster their development."
So how do you find passionate employees? And once they are on board, how do you retain them? Kashman says it is important to set clear expectations from the beginning.
"Align employees with the company’s goals instead of just hiring warm bodies and sending them off into the field," she says. "Be clear on what your company is and what you value, and you will get the same in return from a team."
Setting high expectations is a great a way to motivate employees to work toward a larger goal, Schapira says. His company supports continuing education and training that allows employees to expand their career horizons.
For example, Schapira says his company encourages estimators to learn more about the growing number of sustainable materials available and about cost-effective solutions for acquiring them. Project managers can take additional course hours for efficiency, leadership and green building training.
These sorts of educational opportunities result in many gains, not only for the employee but also for the company, Schapira says.
Every company has its ups and downs, but to keep employees motivated, you need to focus on the positive. That’s why it is always important to celebrate small victories and not dwell over inevitable failures or missteps. And make sure you’re keeping your employees happy by checking in with them from time to time.
"Asking for post-project input also makes employees feel like they are important and essential to making things run smoothly and successfully," Kashman adds. "That will motivate them to even better work next time."
For employees to work well together, they need to be comfortable with each other. This begins with open communication at all levels and avoiding "backroom deals" that could spark tension among team members and harm morale, Kashman says.
"Fostering a sense of community without a hostile corporate environment is essential for success," she says.
Both Kashman and Schapira agree that social events are a necessity and help create a cohesive, team-oriented workplace.
"We like to host events that have a personal or lifestyle benefit," says Schapira, who plans socials, staff lunches and parties. "Our Christmas parties are the ones that people really look forward to the most. We spend a fair amount of time and money to pick out a cool venue, and people bring their spouses and partners, too."