Being born and raised in a proud family of natural-born craftsmen makes me a very proud individual. I always took pride in my work as well as all the work performed by my employees. Also, I was very proud to know that God selected Joseph, a natural-born craftsman, to be the father and mentor of his only son. Our family was all proud that we inherited those very same skills that are explained in my book, “Born to Build.”
During the late ’60s we discovered a major screw-up with our coveted word. Webster’s 1966 New World Dictionary had two separate definitions for “pride” that were 180 degrees apart.
First came the negatives: 1) An over-high opinion of oneself; exaggerated self-esteem; and 2) Haughtiness; arrogance.
Next came the positives: 1) A sense of one’s own dignity; self respect; 2) Delight or satisfaction in one’s achievements, children, etc.; 3) A person or thing in which pride is taken; 4) The best of a class, group, etc.; pick; and 5) The best part; prime: as in the pride of manhood.
I’m quite certain that whoever wrote that book was not a skilled craftsman or they would have reversed the order. Fortunately, the newer editions of Webster’s dictionary emphasize the positive definitions first.
Can you imagine a proud plumber explaining to his or her child how much he or she takes pride in his or her workmanship and then that child looks up the word in the 1966 dictionary? Would that let all of the air out of your balloon?
What could be even worse would be for the child to repeat their parents’ statement to his or her teacher who might read Webster’s negative definitions to the entire class. You certainly would end up with a confused and embarrassed child.
Company PrideThere is no doubt that foolish pride does exist in many human beings and we have absolutely no place for these individuals in the construction industry. We must also accept the fact that we have many good craftsmen who may not be proud of themselves and the work they perform. This is where you can help -- make sure that they can be proud to be working for your company.
First, maintain a first-class, proud company reputation:
- Honor your word, have jobs completed on schedule, and never be late.
- Maintain safe working conditions and clean jobsites.
- Make sure paperwork, submittals and punch list completions are on time.
- Maintain a good credit rating by paying on time.
- Provide a warranty on workmanship.
- Make sure company vehicles, tools and equipment are neat and clean.
- Provide flextime opportunities as employee options.
- Provide a company brochure and newsletters to every employee.
Next, get into the people business and make your employees proud:
- Provide a written chain of command (blame chain) showing who works for whom.
- Provide human-relations training for every supervisor.
- Show employees respect. Praise publicly, criticize privately.
- Maintain skill inventory. Train and precertify specific tasks.
- Utilize mentors for new employees and new positions.
- Make sure each employee has signed the company policy, agreeing to the rules.
- Provide job descriptions (scope of work) for white-collar employees.
- Measure each employee’s 8-for-8 and keep score.
- Have all recruiting and available promotions initiated with note in paychecks.
You can hardly expect your employees to be proud of your company if you are not. Review that list as a diligent businessman and place a reasonable “dollar decision” on every item:
What will this cost our company?
How much money will this produce?
What will it cost us if we aren’t doing it?
Can we afford to have an employee who is not proud?
Pride On The JobNaturally, you want that company pride in every employee on your jobsites and also in your office. Smaller contractors who have only a few workers and no middle managers can instill this pride full-time, in person. Larger contractors who must depend on foremen, superintendents, project managers and office managers need to train and monitor each and every supervisor on their team. Keep in mind, when they make a mistake, you must pay the penalty.
The most repeated, damaging mistakes with untrained bosses are blaming the wrong employee and public criticism. All proud employees want recognition and praise for what they do right and will accept the blame for what they may do wrong. This emphasizes the crucial importance of a written and posted chain of command.
Criticizing or disciplining anyone in public is simply a lack of respect. As you know, you cannot have PRIDE without RESPECT. In addition to losing that employee’s pride and productivity, you will probably lose the employee. Those two mistakes are the biggest cause of turnover in construction.
We cannot cover all of the good management practices for maintaining pride in your employees in this short article, but we can begin with your jobsite craftsmen.
Good employees need and want recognition and appreciation for a job well done. As your foremen make each day’s assignment, they need to give options to encourage input and commitment by the craftsmen. By establishing an 8-for-8 goal in the morning, it becomes a motivator and a fair measuring tool at the end of the day.
Your foremen should always walk with each craftsman to examine the quality and quantity of that day’s work. They can then easily define an 8-for-8, 10-for-8, or 6-for-8 based on the goal established that morning. These 8-for-8s need to be discussed and documented on the time cards to maintain an ongoing record for wage adjustments and promotions.
Should the quality not be up to your company’s standards, your foreman should merely ask the craftsman, “Are you proud of that?” If you walk all of your jobsites and examine some of the shoddy workmanship, you will certainly agree with me that the company’s foreman did not encourage and monitor the pride of a true craftsman. Your company’s pride of quality and on-time workmanship is in your employees’ hands. That ever-so-precious pride of a craftsman is in your hands! Nurture it and don’t leave home without it.