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6 problems and 6 solutions to improve job site productivity that will encourage workers to give their best effort every day

Last issue we looked at threats to crew productivity that might need a “safety net” so workers can give their best effort every day. This issue let’s take a look at some specifics — and some “safety nets.”.

1. The first day on the job for a new employee.

 Most contractors do a less-than-great job at making the new employee feel welcome and appreciated. Remember, the first day on a new job for an employee should leave them with nothing but affirmation that they made a wise career choice. When the new employee is provided a clear picture of what the company represents, who their customer is, what they will be doing, and whom they will be working with, this same employee will gain confidence and be more excited to work harder…sooner! 

The safety net here is to insure that every new employee is clearly welcomed to the company from their leader and work associates. Additionally, they should receive a “90-day Plan” that lines out what the new employee will be doing, when he or she will be learning new skills, where they might be working at, and with whom they will be working. Such a “net” will inspire early positive attitudes and create greater confidence within the employee that the company wants them to succeed and has prepared for their success!

 2. The Senior Leader is not open to ideas or challenges.

This remains one of the oldest frustrations for many construction workers of all ages and experience level. Working for the manager who demonstrates little interest in new ideas and does not want their decisions or ideas to be challenged can quickly accelerate what I call the “motivational plunge,” within promising and thinking employees. 

 The safety net here is that leaders must show visible proof that not only do they welcome new ideas but also that they appreciate workers who can challenge their ideas and past practices. Companies improve by challenging old processes and seeking new and innovative methods.

3. Lack of project planning and organization.

Nothing sends a clearer signal to employees than beginning a project without knowing what the job is, what will be needed, and what are the expectations. With all the proof today that planned jobs produce better results, it is unforgivable that any contractor would ever allow their crew leaders to begin work without a work plan for the day, a week or more “look ahead” schedule, and a confirmation that key performance, safety, and quality issues have been addressed.

The safety net for this issue is really quite simple. Therefore, every contractor should have in place, and consistently exercise, every organizational and planning tool available and appropriate for their specialty of work. Investing in such tools and executing them consistently will remove much of the fear of failure and instead unleash a clear production focus by all workers.

4. Worker not being included as team member.

After years of working with contractors I have concluded that many contractors simply never really developed a good, team-based work culture among their existing employees. This often leads to new employees being excluded from even the most basic activities, such as lunch. 

The safety net for this issue is pure and simple: “socialization.”  Humans have a need to interact with other human beings. When employees don’t feel part of the group it can negatively impact their morale and motivation of employees. The “net” installed should engage education for all workers on communication skills, how to conduct “small talk,” and recognizing the benefits of different personalities and people who are “different.” Employees who do not feel welcomed or part of a team are high risk to leave.

5. Fear of making mistakes.

Similar to working for a manager who doesn’t appreciate new ideas, if our workers have a fear of making a mistake, the “kiss of death” is upon the leader and company.  I realize that making a $100,000 mistake is different than a $500 mistake, and certainly we need to prevent repeating the same mistakes, but learning is still greatly accelerated when mistakes are part of the learning process. The takeaway is that leaders must reduce the fear of making a mistake or risk employees giving less effort, providing fewer improvement suggestions, and producing less profitable results.

Regular and consistent reassurance, spoken by the leader, affirming the need to work hard and smart without fear of “falling,” is the “net” here. Then the leader must back up his words with his actions by not overreacting or, worse, disciplining or terminating a worker when they make a mistake.

6. Working under a “micro-manager” or “control freak.”

I hear these nicknames about leaders from direct reports and, to be honest, I think the names are misplaced. In most cases, the leader in question is simply just following up on assigned tasks, insuring that what was expected to be completed, was completed!  However, there are those leaders who can be almost obsessed with never “letting go” of tasks, jobs, or projects — the result being a real “motivational plunge” in workers attitudes. 

This safety net is more challenging because it’s the “control freak” leader who must learn to trust their workers.These same leaders must learn to more properly delegate, working to insure that the individual taking the work understands the expectations, knows the systems and processes, and understands the priority and timeline. It’s important also for the leader to understand how his actions can create frustrated and anxious employees who feel their leader doesn’t trust them or lack the faith in their execution — and the leader has to change!

Original post can be found here.