Tips for hitting your company’s profit potential.

Most of you think about a very large, successful corporation when someone mentions 3M. That’s good thinking and you can apply it to your own company. But the 3M’s we’re dealing with now are momentum, morale and motivation.

You have all watched a competitive sporting event where the momentum changed. A team that was winning easily lost the game, or vice-versa. Momentum, the first “M,” is a powerful force that can make or break you. When it is in your favor, you can’t lose. When it goes against you, you don’t have a chance.

Fortunately, you can control it. Unfortunately, far too many contractors don’t even pay attention to momentum, let alone attempt to channel that power to their bottom-line profits. What’s even sadder is that it doesn’t cost money. It only makes you money.

We aren’t saying it’s easy, but we will guarantee you that it’s fun. And, when your employees have fun, they do more. When they do more, they make more and so do you! When they make more, they have more fun.

That’s how simple momentum works. All you have to do is start the ball rolling. This is where the other two M’s come into the picture, but they are not so simple.

Maintaining Morale

You can’t motivate your employees when morale, the second “M,” is low. Let’s look at some critical aspects of maintaining high morale on all of your jobsites, as well as in your office:

  • Any single person can control the morale of the group. A smile is contagious and so is frustration. Your management team should be controlling the morale in your company. You may already have a written company policy specifying that employees can’t wear a “white collar” without a smile on their faces.

    You and your entire management team must never criticize or discipline any employee in public. You can say anything good about your employees as loud as you can to as many people as possible. But you only say the negative in private, and only to that employee involved. That is called respect and you can’t have pride without it. How proud would you be if no one respected you?

  • Every supervisor’s responsibilities should include “monitoring and maintaining high morale.” When you walk through your office or visit any of your jobsites, take an employee morale measurement. Are they having fun? Do they enjoy being there?

    Even more important: Are you smiling and exchanging friendly greetings? Call employees by name and ask something about their personal lives.

  • Always use the chain of command. When you sense a problem, go to that employee’s immediate supervisor. He or she is totally responsible for that employee’s morale and may need more human-relations training.

    In all of my foreman training seminars, we stress the effectiveness of front-line foreman grievance procedures. When a foreman senses a problem in one of his or her employees, he or she needs to confront the employee privately. If the problem can’t be remedied, go on up the chain of command.

    An unresolved grievance is a major cause of negative momentum:

    1. An employee with a problem definitely has a bad attitude and very low morale. This will automatically affect his productivity.

    2. Even if he doesn’t complain to his fellow workers, that low morale spreads rapidly through the entire crew.

    3. Lower productivity results in lower income, which multiplies the negative morale.

    4. Such employees carry their negative message to their friends and relatives, dampening any chance of recruiting new employees.

    5. Unhappy employees are constantly seeking better jobs, creating costly and unnecessary turnover.

    6. When your job ceases to be fun, you know you’re losing. You always want your employees to look forward to coming to work each day.

    Motivation And Management

    Monitoring and maintaining this high morale at your workplace will definitely reap benefits, but there is another part of the equation: the third “M,” motivation. Motivation does not mean getting eight hours of work for an eight-hour paycheck. That is just discipline and proper supervision! No, motivation means getting that extra inch out of your employees.

    Let the employee do what he likes to do. This is more of that momentum power: He likes it because he’s good at it; he’s good at it because he likes it; he does more because he’s good at it; he makes more because he does more; and he likes it because he makes more.

    Show recognition and appreciation for a good job. Why would anyone give that extra effort if no one notices it or appreciates it?

    You always need to keep score and reward accordingly. If the best don’t make the most, who would strive to be the best? You can use our 8-for-8 daily scorecard or simply pay piecework or use flat-rate labor goals.

    Other motivational techniques are:

  • Provide the right tools, keep them sharp and train each employee to use them efficiently. This can be done with TNT (Twi-Night after-hours Training) or with our Green and Gold mentoring system.

  • Offer flex-time working hours to every employee. Discuss their personal needs or wishes, one-on-one, and adjust your schedule. In addition to motivating your present employees, these flex-time options will attract other employees from companies who still work five days a week.

  • Provide proud-looking company vehicles for your proud and productive “company men.” A proud company man drives home in a company truck!

  • When socializing with your crew, do not talk shop and avoid any negative comments. There is an old adage that applies here, “If you can’t say something good about an individual, say nothing at all.”

  • Get involved in your employees’ personal lives without interfering. Help them in any way possible, including lending or advancing money for critical needs. Most employees are very appreciative of your concern.

  • Honor your word! This goes back to what we call the “old school” where a man was only as good as his word. Our industry is filled with distrust and broken hearts caused by broken promises.

    Most of these broken promises were unintentional because the boss got busy and forgot what he or she promised. Naturally, the employee did not forget and considered it an outright lie.

    Any time you make a promise or commitment to any employee, write a note and put it in his performance file. Even if it becomes impossible to keep that promise, you can at least honor your word and explain your situation.

    Also keep in mind that you should never override or break your foreman’s promises to one of his crew. If he made a mistake, you are obligated to pay for it. You can counsel him to prevent it happening again, but you need to honor his word.

  • Do not merely expect this motivation from your foremen. Every boss would like to see these 3M’s on his or her jobsites, but they don’t know how to do it. You need to train them properly. Put it in their job description and demand it!

    There is no doubt about the power of positive momentum, as well as negative. A well-trained management team can start that momentum rolling and enjoy the ride along with the extra growth and profits. If you don’t maintain a positive attitude in all of your employees, you’ll find out what we mean by frustration being contagious.

    Which way is the momentum power now rolling in your company?