I've been talking to a lot of my clients recently about people management and why they continually struggle to get people to do what they want them to.
In construction, the culture is very much a "blokey one" where men (it is almost exclusively men sadly) are men and need to just get on with it. In many cases people management is just something they do not know how to do, other than to go on site and shout and swear a bit.
To be fair that is less prevalent now, but it would be fair to say that it does exist and confrontational management is more prevalent than in other sectors.
We've been working with a number of clients to change their management approach and the results have been impressive in relation to:
1. Improving performance on site and relationships between site staff and management
2. Making sure extras and variations are recorded and reported, increasing project profit and meeting set margins
3. Providing site staff, predominantly with a career path for when they want to get off the tools
4. Improving recruitment and retention of employees and sub-contractors
So, how have we done this? To be honest, in some cases, it has not been easy but management have embraced the problems they have and understand that in many cases they need to change and be role models for the behaviours they want to see on site.
There are some simple rules that we've developed to drive attitudinal and behavioural change. These are:
1. Helping people understand the importance of what they do on site and how this impacts on the image of them and the business
2. Clarifying expectations of them and and recognising and rewarding them as a result
3. Allowing them to see the future opportunities that will be available to them if the business can achieve its goals.
Probably the last one here has had the biggest impact in many cases...
For site staff in many cases, every day is "Groundhog Day." They're going to go and lay tiles, paint or skim walls etc. If they are younger they see this as happening for the rest of their working lives or until their bodies finally give in from the sheer physical exertion they put in every day.
It's a bit like the Roman galley. You must have seen it in films where they row the galley to the beat of the drums, being whipped if they're not working hard enough until their bodies finally give up and they're thrown overboard.
Now, I'm not saying that in construction we do that, however, if we can show them there are opportunities then it builds their skills and confidence, we retain their loyalty and they will go and tell their mates how good a place it is to work and we get better quality trades people to win better quality projects!
Simple isn't it and all for a little bit of different effort.....