Taking care of 'your people' will solve problems for you.

By adding the italicized items to a well-known and respected quotation, this message can be used to resolve our industry's critical craft crisis.

"To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.

A time to be born, a time to die;

A time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, a time to heal;

A time to break down and a time to build up;

A time to anticipate and a time to train."

We are all very aware of our critical craft shortage and it is quite easy to anticipate how much worse it will become. An article in the July 30th Engineering News Record, titled "'No Fix' for Craft Labor Shortage," projects a shortfall of 1.4 million craftsworkers by 2008. They also think that there is "no fix" for that 2008 problem.

Have Skills, Will Work

As you take the time to anticipate how your company could reap all of the benefits from this "no fix" skilled craft shortage, you will surely see the urgency of our "time to train."

You have heard most real estate agents explaining the three most critical factors in purchasing a new home or business: location, location, location.

I hope you also realize that the three most critical factors in running a successful construction company are: people, people, people.

Every time I do a seminar, convention program or in-company consulting, the response I hear from frustrated contractors is, "I don't disagree with your recommendations, I just don't have the time to do it. I'm so busy trying to keep up and put out the fires that I don't have enough time to take care of my employees."

If you take good care of those employees, they will take care of all those problems. If you don't take care of your employees, you cannot possibly handle all of those problems!

No. 1 -- Take Care Of Your Loved Ones

You must not overlook the importance of budgeting and controlling your personal time. My advice is, "Make a good life, not just a good living."

The toughest part of writing and following a financial budget for anyone who is self-employed is the uncertainty of your income. When you live on profit only, rather than a steady weekly paycheck, it can be feast or famine.

That is not a problem with your time. We are guaranteed to get 24 hours each day of the seven days in every week. Deciding in advance where and how you wish to spend those hours should be done on a written plan rather than your being frustrated about where all of your time vanished. This does not require a lot of time or training but you will be amazed at the results.

No.2 -- Please Your Customers

Your own personal commitment to our old adage, "The customer is always right," would suffice if you did not have to depend on others to please them. Every single employee on your payroll and your subs and suppliers can assure you with continued repeat business and referrals, or they can "tick off" your customer enough so that they never again use your services -- along with warning all their friends.

This definitely requires that "time to train." You cannot merely expect good morals or good customer relations from your employees. These must be trained and constantly monitored.

Whenever you are paying for something and do not get treated properly I'm sure you look for a better place to do your business. Don't you ever wonder what is wrong with the owner of that business who allows his employees to drive away customers? I hope none of your customers are wondering what's wrong with you. It is always time to train for good customer relations.

No.3 -- Humaneering Your Troops

Our third, and final, answer for "a time to anticipate and a time to train" involves human relations for recruiting, orientation, training, motivation, measuring, rewarding and disciplining good employees. This is a much more complicated process that we call "humaneering."

Our construction industry's failure to train foremen, superintendents, project managers and contractors in these crucial management techniques is the primary cause of today's critical shortage of skilled craft workers.

Engineering News Record's "No Fix" article cites the overwhelming public perception of blue-collar construction workers as dirty, noisy, unsafe, cyclical, violent and sexist. That is a somewhat true perception on the part of some, but a perception is not a proven fact.

This "No Fix" article closes with brainstorming recommendations that are well worth considering, such as integrating more sensitive training in university level construction management course work.

Some of their other recommendations include raising wages for entry-level craftsworkers, creating career paths for craftsworkers that potentially lead to white-collar work in construction management, and marketing the industry to high school teachers and students in Skills USA VICA, formerly Vocational Industrial Clubs of America.

Naturally you need many facets of management training throughout your entire company regarding recruiting, selecting and hiring potential craftsmen.

"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven."

And a time to anticipate and now is definitely a time to train!