With the start of another football season it is only a matter of time before we read or hear about how important that teamwork is to the success of the team. The same is obviously true for any pavement maintenance contractor. But who drives…teamwork?
You do! Teamwork doesn’t just happen…heck; it doesn’t even always happen if you have a leader who drives it. However, you will seldom experience a crew working in a teamwork fashion without the leader driving the process. So, what can a contractor or leader to drive healthy teamwork without being manipulative or dictatorial? Consider a few observations I’ve made through the past few years that might just make you more effective at realizing the benefits of teamwork that we all say we want.
1. Cast the Vision & Expectation for Teamwork. This cannot be a subtle cast but really lean back and “let er’ fly.” If the owner, and his or her leaders, do not clearly state, and keep stating, that teamwork is not a suggestion but how we do business, the full impact needed will not be made. Make teamwork your company’s primary mode of delivery.
2. Communicate Interest, Trust, & Often. I’ve written many times on the topic of communication so I’ll let you seek out the archived articles, but know this, the contractor wanting teamwork as a normal practice must be consistent on communicating their interest in their workers’ lives and needs. Every time a contractor engages their workers trust takes one more step in the right direction. Even if the conversation is not positive, if the exchange is honest and empty of any cheap shots, the worker learns to take the contractor at his word. Often simply adds insurance to this entire process by making communication less formal and user-friendlier. Building greater interest and trust drives teamwork every time.
3. Connect with Your Workers. Connecting is not merely communicating but instead, it’s touching your workers in such a way that relationship is created and sustained. You might do this via communication for sure, however you also connect with your workers by just spending time with them, hanging out once in a while in the late afternoon, taking some ice-cold drinks on the hottest day of the year, bringing out some coffee and doughnuts on that tough project that suddenly takes a turn for the worse. Connecting with your workers separates you from other contractors who are only treating their workers like a number. You want to really drive teamwork? Start deliberately connecting with your workers…individually…and don’t leave anyone out!
4. Caring for Your Workers. OK, call me sappy, but just remember the old adage, “People do not care what you know until they know how much you care.” When your workers observe you doing some of the little things for them such as: running forgotten tools to their sites, stepping in periodically to help them close out a project, or even attending the ballgame of one of their employee’s sons football game, you prove that you do care for your people. I’ve heard many times through the years from employees about their choice to remain with their contractor because they knew the contractor cared for them and the other workers. Come on; are you really serious about great teamwork? Have you ever watched how past players for Coach “K,” he of Duke, almost fawn over their coach. Even Coach K’s wife is called “mom” by past players. Care for your workers.
Look, not every suggestion shared earlier will work in every case with every worker. Yet, the four items tend to reinforce that team is important because teams are made up of people, people who work for you and don’t work for someone else.
Drive teamwork…if you don’t, then who will?