Maintain employee accountability to improve results companywide

I used to get tired of the same old excuses for poor performance. It was difficult to get our construction company managers, supervisors, foremen and field crews to do what I wanted them to do. They always offered semilegitimate reasons why they didn’t get the job done on time, why they didn’t follow directions, why it wasn’t their fault when something went wrong on the jobsite and why they couldn’t do what was expected of them. Therefore, I thought I couldn’t find any good help, and that some of my employees just didn’t care about doing a good job. It seemed as though no one would hold themselves responsible. I thought I was the only one who would do the job right.

People Are Different

You can improve your business with your current staff, rather than replacing them with different players. As the leader, your job is to motivate your team, help them collaborate to reach clear targets and goals and work together like a winning team.

Successful business owners and managers realize that their people are different from them. They understand that employees are not always motivated by the same things. People have different life experiences, backgrounds, beliefs, needs, goals and personal pressures. Most people don’t think the same way. They have different personalities and will act and react differently in most situations. And just because you pay your employees a good wage doesn’t mean they are going to work harder to reach a goal you have for them.

Younger workers are also very different. They seek continuous learning and personal growth in their careers. They don’t like dead-end jobs with no advancement in sight. They sometimes think they can do your job better than you. Their loyalty is to themselves and what you can do for them. They also want to participate in major decisions. They want balance in their lives, and would rather go home early than earn overtime hours. They tend to value family and friends over work.

It is your job to discover each employee’s differences and help them achieve their goals so you can achieve yours.

The Motivational Problem May Be You

Years ago, I went through 14 secretaries over a 2-year period. I just couldn’t find anyone who would work as hard as I wanted them to work. No one was ever good enough for me. Finally, one day, I realized that the problem may be me. I had to accept the responsibility that it was my job to motivate my staff, and it wasn’t their job to motivate themselves.

Once I realized this, my personnel problems turned around, our people became great and our employee retention moved to 90 percent every year. I had been the problem, not them.

To motivate your workforce, you have to give them a reason to be motivated. Your employees like to know what results are expected on a daily basis. Don’t expect others to understand your passion for results, schedule, production costs, customers or quality work if you don’t give them targets to shoot for daily. They must want to follow your vision, achieve your goals and get the job done properly. They need regular feedback on how well they
are doing, too.

For example, think of your children. You may tell them what you want them to do, but they may not always follow your wishes. The real problem is a lack of clear expectations, no real accountability and little to no consequences for noncompliance. It can seem like the same problems you have with your kids are the same ones you have with your employees.

Be a Leader Your People Want to Follow

Effective leaders influence others to want to do what is expected from them. To get the results you want, your employees must want to do what you want them to do. Ask yourself, “What makes people want to follow me?” You know what doesn’t work with your children and your employees? No clear targets or goals, a lack of trust and no accountability or 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 cannot afford for them to leave, so I don’t fire them.”

What kind of accountability is this? If they don’t know what you want or have to complete the tasks you ask them to do, they won’t do more than the minimum required to keep their job.

Be Clear, Be Specific & Keep Score

If you ask your key managers and supervisors to list out their top accountabilities and responsibilities, you will get as many answers as you have people. Often, the field foreman thinks his/her goal is to get the project finished, while your goal for him/her is to meet the production budget without callbacks. The best motivators are regular performance feedback and a clear understanding of what is expected. If employees know performance data, they can make adjustments to hit the goal. If employees know their goals and receive frequent, updated performance data, they can then make adjustments needed to hit the goal. No score means no winners.

Therefore, managing people starts with a specific list of what results each employee is accountable for accomplishing. A project manager is accountable for completing his/her project on budget and on time, managing the requirements of the contract and working with the customer in a professional manner. Each employee must also have a clear, detailed list of the tasks he/she is responsible for and must complete regularly. For example, a project manager is responsible to complete a monthly job cost report, update the schedule monthly, keep all change orders current and executed weekly, get all submittals approved within the first 3 weeks of the project, meet with the field superintendent weekly to review the schedule and production job-cost report, approve all invoices accurately to the right cost codes weekly and bill the customer by the end of the month.

Do you keep up with the score in your company?