Give your techs a foreman development program to help them achieve their career goals.

I am always surprised at the attitude of some contractors and their supervisory management teams: "Some day this kid is going to be able to run a job. He just needs to mature a little."

When I ask about the "kid's" age, the answer is generally somewhere between 22 and 25 years old and about half of them are married. My next question is a wake-up call when I ask the contractors, "How old were you when you were mature enough to handle that kind of responsibility?"

This is the response I get: "Sure, I was young, but you gotta remember things were different back in those days. I had responsibilities when I was a kid and that helped make me mature. Kids today don't have responsibility or discipline and they think money grows on trees."

My next question closes the deal. "Were there any kids, back in your good old days, who did not have responsibility or discipline?" My message became clear because they realized that, of course, there were kids their ages who were not responsible "way back then" - just as there are lots of kids now who are definitely responsible and disciplined. I hope you take a closer look at the ambition and ability of these young superstars. You have to accept the fact that every individual is unique. We do not all want the same things and we do not all have the same abilities or ambitions. We also do not face the same challenges or opportunities.

We cannot go backwards and change any of their childhood circumstances, such as:

  • Some come from broken homes with a total lack of discipline and responsibilities or, in some cases, too much responsibility. Many live part-time with two separate families with visiting rights.

  • Some kids have to do chores and follow family rules.

  • Many young kids have jobs after school, on weekends and during summer months.

  • Some play competitive sports in little leagues or on school teams.

  • Some went to boarding school and saw very little of their parents.

What You Can Do

Common sense tells you that any of these varying circumstances will definitely affect that kid's attitude and maturity, regardless of his or her natural born ability or ambition. The big question is always, who really tried to help them mature?

This is where you come into the picture!

    1. Ideally you are already using our Green & Gold 90-day mentoring program. Your retired gold mentors can rapidly determine how much ambition and ability your "kid" possesses. His much-needed maturity will not be a problem for your gold mentor.

    2. Begin with the responsibility for a specific job or task that he or she must perform alone. If he or she is willing and capable of handling that task, you can then assign a subordinate worker or even a small crew for him or her to supervise.

    3. You should always define your rigid chain of command and assure that each of those subordinates realize and accept that kid as his boss. We recommend paying an extra dollar per hour as foreman's pay to eliminate any doubts or confusion.

    4. Provide a cell phone for your gold mentor, as well as your green foreman, to assure convenient communication and guidance.

Do not consider this as a test or trial period. You must think as a team-building coach would and maintain this FDP (foreman development program) for every employee on your payroll, regardless of age or background.

I wish I could share all of my success stories of foremen, superintendents and contractors who I personally started on their supervisory career. Over half of them never dreamed that they could be a boss or that anyone would give them a chance, let alone help them. Naturally, there were also some who wanted that opportunity but would not give enough effort to reach their goals.

Unfortunately, our industry has never adopted a specific foreman development program to help potential leaders fulfill their ambitions. Without total respect for a written chain of command and basic human relations training, it's easy to understand why so many really capable employees either fail or quit trying to become bosses.

This was and is the primary reason for me to offer human relations seminars to contractors of all trades throughout all 50 states and Canada. My one-day orientation and basic leadership seminars have helped not only new and potential foremen, but also many experienced foremen who never realized how important human relations is to motivate and control their crews. These experienced foremen wondered why their contractors sent them to our seminar, but then soon realized how critical these important items are to being a qualified and effective leader.

We begin every seminar with a shocking attention-getter:

  • Do all of you agree that you do not want anyone in your crew who is not proud of their work and of themselves? (Naturally they all say "yes.")

  • Do you realize that you cannot have pride without respect?

  • Do you also realize that you never criticize or discipline anyone publicly? That is called respect!
Then we ask for anyone who never saw an employee get his butt chewed out in front of the other employees to stand up. As you might have guessed, no one stands up, and they all get my human relations message!

You all know how important it is for any contractor to have a capable foreman in charge of every crew. Do not overlook any potential employee without first giving them a fair opportunity in your foreman development program. If you have any problems or doubts, give me a call or e-mail me.