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By George Hedley B


Can’t Find Enough Good Help?

Contractors continually complain they can't fi nd enough trained help to get all their work done. This leads me to believe construction business owners should make fi nding, training and keeping great employees their number one priority. But, do they?

Take the People Priority Test: 1. How many hours/week do I spend with my people? 2. How many hours/year do we train our people? 3. What’s our annual employee training budget? 4. What is our ongoing recruiting program? There is not a labor shortage in the United

States today. People fl ock to great jobs at high- tech companies, quality manufacturers and even the service industry. People want to work. Yet the construction industry suffers from a short- age of trained and qualifi ed workers entering the workforce every year. The problem? No one wants to work in construction. No one wants to work in dead-end jobs. No on wants to be treated like “hired hands.” People want to see a future. I speak to the construction industry more than

50 times a year at major conventions and company meetings on business, leadership and customer relationships. I ask my audiences: "Do any of your kids want to work in construction?" Only 1 in a 100 answers: "Yes!" With such a low response from the children of people in the industry, it should come as no surprise to you that construction ranks number 248 out of 250 career opportunities among high school seniors.

Why Work In Construction? Why would any young person ever want to work in the construction fi eld? It is cold, hot, dirty and dangerous. Field workers are treated like hired hands and expected to follow orders from above, do only as told and not make waves. They aren't invited to company events, allowed to participate in profi t sharing or treated as equals with manage-

ment or offi ce staff personnel. They are seldom given authority to make decisions, commit the company or spend money without approval. When it rains, they are sent home without pay. They receive little or no recognition and are not involved in project or company planning and scheduling. Great opportunity? Pay for fi eld construction workers has

declined steadily for 10 years (adjusted for infl a- tion and buying power), while most other career choices have experienced a net increase. Con- struction fi eld workers see a pay potential that plateaus quickly and declines as they get older and less valuable than their younger peers. Great upside potential? Fortune magazine's “Most Admired Compa-

nies in America” train their people between 40 and 60 hours per year. The average construction com- pany trains their people between one and three hours per year per employee. Great training? Why would anyone be surprised that nobody wants a job in an industry that offers hard work, low pay, inadequate training, few personal development op- portunities and little career growth?

What Do People Want? People today want responsibility, accountability, growth opportunities, high tech, involvement in decisions, and pay based on performance. They want to understand the big picture at the project and company level. They need frequent recognition, rewards, and someone to care about them and their future. They want a job that pays a lot more than av- erage with an upside potential. Young people want to make a difference and want to be an involved part of an exciting company that leads the competition. They need a vision of the future and want to contrib- ute to the success of their company.

What’s The People Solution? To attract great people, every construction busi-

ness, large and small, must commit to creating great places to work. Each manager and supervisor must make recruiting an important part of their job. You need to convince people that your company really is a great opportunity for them and promise that their job will lead to a fantastic career. It takes more than placing a want ad or calling the hall to fi nd and attract great people. It takes dedication, commitment, time and money to make it happen. To retain great people, companies must have a

proactive, aggressive, employee development pro- gram. This includes ongoing training and education, team-building exercises, regular crew meetings, supervisor leadership programs, as well as technical skill classes. Also required are employee recognition systems, personal development programs and pay for performance. Future growth career ladders must be clear, tracked and updated regularly. Developing great people requires new man-

agement and leadership styles that coach, inspire and encourage people to become the best they can be. This requires letting go and trusting people to take it to the next level. This only happens when managers realize that people are their only com- petitive advantage. Their output equals your input! My challenge to you is to change your people prior- ity program now. Radical innovation, risk taking and real leadership are desperately needed to build a better business.

George Hedley is a licensed professional business coach, popular professional speaker and author of “Get Your Business to Work!” available at his on- line bookstore. He works with contractors to build profi table growing companies. To request your free copy of “Profi t 101 For Contractors,” sign up for his free monthly e-newsletter, hire Hedley to speak, be part of his ongoing BIZCOACH program, or take a class at Hardhat BIZSCHOOL online university, visit or email

May 2013


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