Make this your best Christmas by giving the precious gift that keeps on giving.

You can give true meaning to that traditional season's greeting, "We wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year," by giving your employees the best job in town.

Webster's dictionary defines "best" as surpassing all others, or most excellent, desirable or favorable. Does that describe your company's reputation and the career opportunities you now provide in your market area? The best employees constantly look for the best company. Fortunately, being the best company does not cost money - it's what makes you money.

I'm not sure who coined the phrase "DOs and DON'Ts," but I'm going to reverse the order to "DON'Ts and DOs" simply because one bad human relations mistake easily can overshadow everything you do well.

The Dirty Dozen

We can start with what I've always called the Dirty Dozen. Throughout all my years working with thousands of construction employees, any or all of these 12 human relations boo-boos were primary causes for discontentment, complaints, poor work ethics and costly turnover.

1. Broken Promises: Broken promises range from forgetting commitments made when employees were hired to not acknowledging them with raises, reviews, bonuses and rewards.

2. No Written Command Chain: A chart assures employees their boss will be totally responsible for whatever he tells them to do.

3. Public Criticism: You cannot have pride without respect. If your boss doesn't respect you, no one else will either.

4. Overriding Decisions: This involves rehiring an employee your foreman fired, billing someone for what has been horsetraded or changing scheduling promises.

5. Overlooked Promotions: Hiring at the top rather than promoting from within is a double-edged sword. It eliminates any extra effort to climb the company ladder and subjects employees to judgment from someone who has not walked a mile in their moccasins.

6. Low Wages & Poor Benefits: This is the No. 1 reason proud construction employees use for quitting. Ninety percent of this objection would be eliminated by keeping score and paying merit wages.

7. Ineffective Training: Employees are tested rather than trained to do a good job. Your management team should be coaches striving to prove employees can do their job.

8. Disregard For Personal Lives: Give compassion, understanding and assistance to each individual's personal time, life and family. This has always been important, but today's societal conditions make this critical. Our labor shortage multiplied this problem with excess overtime and travel demands.

9. Negative Peer Pressure: Second-rate employees degrade peers with seniority, using sucker shots like squealer, brown nose, company man, suckup, apple polisher and rat fink. This keeps an eager beaver from progressing. Most of your good employees simply will bide their time until they find a better job.

10. Favortism: This buddy-buddy system involves supervisors overlooking discipline of their relatives or close friends and delegating the best jobs to them. In some instances, they even give better wages and benefits.

11. Disorderly Offices: Not getting proper tools, materials and manpower to jobsites is frustrating for any dedicated employee. Any who are measured for true merit wages will seek better jobs. Far too many simply wait and become drones.

12. Unpaid Bills: Nothing is more embarrassing or frustrating for a foreman than calling a supplier or sub and hearing, "We'll send it when your company pays its bill." Proud people want to work for reputable companies.

I'm sure most of this Dirty Dozen list is quite familiar to all of you who have been there. You can easily understand how any one of these items could de-motivate good employees, yet many are exposed to more than one.

Baker's Dozen

With all that in mind, let's look at a baker's dozen of positive DOs that will let your company offer the best job in town.

1. Make It Fun: Demand a smile from your entire management team. Ensure consistent recognition and appreciation for extra effort and eliminate that people-eating word: frustration.

2. Create A Command Chain: Post and follow a rigid chain of command. Use job descriptions and scope of work to measure and reward your employees.

3. Partner With Employees: Use feasible flex-time options to fulfill employees' personal needs and meet your commitments.

4. Pen Promises: Write down every promise you make to employees. Maintain it in their file until you honor your word.

5. Train Effectively: Pre-train and certify all employees before exposing them to tasks.

6. Identify Skills: Use a data-base skills inventory to professionally man your jobs and do your after-hours training.

7. Keep Score & Give Rewards: Make sure employees are paid exactly for what they perform.

8. Meet Commitments: Meet every commitment you make to your customers.

9. Exceed Schedule Expectations: Use pre-fab, value engineering, flex-time, lights, tents and float time to stay ahead of critical path schedules.

10. Recruit: Look for retired, semiretired and light-duty craftsmen for Green & Gold mentoring.

11. Give Incentives: Offer hiring incentives to employees who bring friends and relatives.

12. Use A Dress Code: Consider using attractive uniforms to give your employees and company a professional image.

13. Ask For Help: Call me if you need help to be the best.

Making your company the best does not require a lot of time or money, but it does take a committed and dedicated follow through.

If you subscribe to my decision-making policy, "What does it cost vs. what does it produce?" you surely will enjoy the traditional season's greeting: "Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year."