4 Steps to Motivate Your Workforce to Perform Their Best

Your job is to discover each employee’s differences, what makes them tick and help them achieve their goals in order for you to reach your business goals

A construction company owner's job is to motivate his or her people to want to do what you want them to do.
A construction company owner's job is to motivate his or her people to want to do what you want them to do.

I used to get tired of trying to get employees to do what I wanted them to do. They always had what appeared to be legitimate excuses why they didn’t get the job done on time, or why they didn’t follow directions, or why it wasn’t their fault when something went wrong out on the jobsite. I used to think I couldn’t find any good help anymore. Or maybe people don’t care about doing a good job anymore. Or, it seems nobody will take charge, be responsible or accountable. I thought I was the only one who could do the job right. Perhaps, you feel the same some days.

People are different than you

There is a better way to build your construction business with the people you have. You can get them motivated, all on the same page, and working like a winning team with common goals, drive and excitement. First, successful business owners and managers know their people are different than them. They realize employees are not motivated for the same reasons they are. People have different life experiences, backgrounds, beliefs, needs, goals and personal pressures. Most people don't think the same as you do. They have different personalities and will act and react differently than you in most situations. Everyone won’t do things exactly the same way you do with the same intensity. And just because you pay employees a good wage doesn't mean they're going to work their fanny off for you.

Younger workers today are very different as well. They like continuous learning and personal growth in their careers. They don’t like dead-end jobs without advancement in sight. They often think they can do your job better than you can. They want to make a lot more money than you provide and will leave jobs quickly when offered more pay. Their loyalty is to themselves and what you can do for them. But, they also want to participate in major decisions. They want balance in their life and would rather go home early than get overtime hours. Work is not their number one priority as they value family and friends more than their job. It is your job to discover each employee’s differences, what makes them tick, and help them achieve their goals in order for you to reach your business goals.

Are YOU the motivation problem?

Years ago, I went through 14 secretaries over a two-year period. I just couldn’t find anyone who would work as hard as I wanted them to. No one was ever quick enough, smart enough or good enough for me. One day I finally realized maybe the problem was me! I had to take responsibility that it was my responsibility to motivate my staff. It wasn’t their job to motivate themselves. Once I realized this fact, my personnel problems turned around, our people became great and our employee retention moved to 90% plus every year. I had been the problem, not them.

Hedley Small AdTo motivate your workforce, you've got to give them a reason to be motivated. People are motivated for their reasons, not yours. Don’t expect others to understand your passion for customers, quality work or the need to make a profit. They must want to follow your vision, achieve your goals and get the job done properly.

For example, think of your children. You tell them what you want them to do, but they don’t always follow your wishes. Then you try to bribe them — $100 for an “A”, and they say, “Not enough, Dad.” Frustrated, you scream, “If you're not home by 10:00 p.m., I'm gonna kill you!” Well, you don't. You let them off the hook and they continue to stretch the envelope. The real problem is lack of accountability and responsibility without consequences. It seems like the same problems you have with your kids are the same with your employees.

Do your people want to follow you?

Leaders influence others to want to do what they want them to do. The key words are to want to do. Employees must want to do what you want them to do to get the results you want. You tell and they decide if they’ll do it. When you tell your kids to clean up their room, they decide if they’ll do it based on needs, consequences, accountabilities and responsibilities which affect their decisions.

Ask yourself: “What makes people want to follow me?” You know what doesn't work with your children (and employees) confusion, lack of trust, no integrity, no accountability, and no consequences. A lot of business owners and managers say, “My people won’t do what I want them to do. I should get rid of them, but I can't afford for them to leave, so I don’t fire them.” What kind of accountability is this? If they don't have to do what you want them to do, why should they do any more than the minimum to keep their job? You've got to make them want to do what you want them to do.

4 steps to motivate your workforce

Every employee requires two things money and happiness. Money includes fair pay and competitive benefits, plus working for a strong company with a good reputation in the community. Happiness is the same, being motivated. Your job is to motivate your people to want to do what you want them to do. You accomplish this with inspirational leadership, continuous motivation, clear and continuous two way communication, an exciting vision, step by step directions, holding people accountable, and giving them full and unquestioned responsibility. Your number one job is to encourage and motivate your people to perform with energy, effort and enthusiasm so they'll go beyond where you want them to go.

There are four simple and proven action steps to achieve bottom-line results through people.

1. Provide clear expectations

People need to know exactly what you want them to do and the results you want them to achieve — the expected specific results. Weak managers assume people understand what’s required, don’t take time to spell out what they want, and then don’t make people accountable for achieving desired results. The norm is to tell people to work real hard and try your best. But, this doesn’t let people know exactly what’s expected. People must be told and understand exactly what you want, the specific end results. Examples of clear expectations include:

  • “By Friday, I expect you to have this installed and 100% complete.”
  • “By the 30th of the month all invoices must be sent out.”
  • “No extra work will be started without a signed change order.”
  • “All timecards must be complete and turned in by 9:00am Mondays.”
  • “You must complete all footings within the 750 man-hour budget.”

Be specific with clear targets and define the exact results you want. And, make sure your people understand what their individual targets are, what’s acceptable and what’s not, when they hit or miss their target, their consequences for not achieving the results you want, and their rewards for a job well done.

2. Provide regular recognition and praise

The second important action step you must use to get the results you want is to provide ongoing recognition and praise to the people who do the work. Weak and ineffective managers don’t take time to thank people for a job well done. Over time, this causes lackadaisical employees and poor results. In a survey of why people left their company, over 90% said they'd never been recognized or praised by their boss, ever, for anything.

People want and need feedback and positive reinforcement often for their contributions and efforts. Effective leaders give out praises at least every week to everyone in their sphere of influence. Use words like, “I appreciate you” and “Thanks for a great job.” Keep a simple chart in your day-timer to ensure you recognize all your staff on a regular basis. Strive to praise everyone at least every week and check it off on your chart so you won’t forget someone. Verbal praises work the best, but occasionally write short handwritten notes to those who went beyond the call of duty.

3. Provide a clear understanding of the big picture

The third thing your people need is a clear understanding of the big picture (company, employees, customers, projects, etc.) and how they fit in. Successful business owners, managers, and foreman are open and honest and tell employees where their company is going — it's vision, what the future has in store, positive and negatives, and changes or adjustment required to be successful. People need to know what’s happening; otherwise, they tend to think the worst.

Several times a month I present seminars to company managers who learn great ideas to build and improve their businesses. When they go back to their offices, their people are often afraid they've been scheming how to squeeze them to work harder. That's not reality, but without information people fear the worse. Successful leaders constantly tell the real deal — business is good or bad, the future is positive or negative, sales are up or down, productivity is acceptable or not, our people are doing a good job or not. Hold semi-annual, all company meetings plus monthly project and department meetings where the big picture is discussed and open to questions.

4. Provide a caring company attitude

The fourth action step is to let your people know you care about them as individuals. People need to know you appreciate them as employees and contributors to the company success. Employees want to know you care about them, their personal goals, future, personal development, and their children and family. People must know they're important. They want to know they will be listened to and have a say in the future of their company. 

To ensure you continuously show you care about your employees, keep a “team member profile” sheet on each person in your day-timer. Include their name, family members, schools, hobbies, sports, interests, goals, challenges, contributions, etc. This way you can refer to it on a regular basis and keep track of each team member’s life. By following these simple guidelines you will get your people to want to do what you want them to do, your people will respond and make your life better.

Without employee problems, your bottom-line will improve and your company future will be brighter. The key to implement these recommendations is to do it! All it takes is time. And your investment will equal money in your pocket! Get started! Go motivate someone now! Yes, right now!

George Hedley CSP CPBC is a certified professional construction BIZCOACH and popular industry speaker. He helps contractors grow, make more profit, build management teams, improve field production, and get their businesses to work for them.  He is the best-selling author of “Get Your Construction Business To Always Make A Profit!” available on Amazon.com.  E-mail [email protected] to sign-up for his free e-newsletter, start a personalized BIZCOACH program, attend a 2 day BIZ-BUILDER Boot Camp, or get a discount at www.HardhatBIZSCHOOL.com online university for contractors.