Why do some companies always seem to hire the right people every time? My first CEO coach (when I just started building an organization at my company) pounded home to me the saying, “people for jobs, not jobs for people”. The truth of this is verified when one has mapped out a plan for current or upcoming needs, tasks that are either not being done effectively or not being done at all, and one needs to assign a dedicated person to complete that job. It works really well for the “hunt” (candidate search) as well as the “catch” (offer and acceptance) if both the employer and employee are open to communication through the first year of employment. It is usually the “keep” (building a relationship that lasts) that poses the most challenges.
Most employees in construction don’t “hire in to stay in” the same role completing the same tasks in the long run. If they do, they often expect compensation to continually increase with the commitment despite this not being consonant with a reasonable cost/benefit analysis. Business is ever changing. In construction, a company may specialize in a particular market segment such as healthcare, schools or retail, yet have completely different projects within that vertical. So why do most project managers not want to stay as project managers, but desire senior management roles instead? And why do most superintendents long to be general superintendents, instead of project superintendents?
It is human nature to always want more than one has presently.
In business, this is usually defined as more money, a more prestigious title, or some other elusive favoritism from the boss. Many people adjust their lifestyles around their most recent achievement, not realizing that the “more and bigger” came with additional responsibility expected from them, as well as additional cost to the employer (financial or through empowerment). At this stage, you may be thinking that without risk there is no reward, and while that is true to an extent, I can say that after twenty-six years of construction staffing, we often see employees who think they are ready for something different discard their chances by seeing a mirage that isn’t a real opportunity. This will then often prevent them from achieving their goals. Their own internal clocks are ticking faster than they should, causing them to be unsettled, when really, they are just learning how to bring the right value right where they are.
The answer regarding why some companies seem to make the right hires is that they have learned to manage risk. They know there is rarely the perfect employee at the perfect time that will remain with them in the long-run. In the last blog, we wrote about the average tenure for management in construction being 4.1 years despite the national management average being 6 years. The employers who employ successfully hire people with character and behavior that allow for mutual discussions throughout their tenure. Even when time to part ways, proper discussions occur to transition both parties in a successful manner. Yes, timing and communication is everything.
How does someone develop the ability to control employment changes?
1. They eliminate fear.
Both leader and employee are able to discuss their needs and desires directly with their respective supervisors without fear of being “let go”. The right leader is able to allow an employee to have conversations about their needs and desires without assuming the employee expects something immediately, or will quit and disrupt the workplace. They understand that sometimes they just need to talk through their thoughts and feelings to sort out what is important, and what is not, (perception vs reality)(fact vs feeling).
2. They are able to receive constructive criticism.
Both the employee and employer who can be secure enough in themselves to accept areas of criticism in areas that need improvement without taking offense open doors for opportunities for growth, as they can offer support to one another and encouragement to improve.
We had a client recently who saw potential in a construction manager, but this construction manager had a tendency to leave the jobsite when he was frustrated. Their boss addressed the behavior directly and worked with the construction manager as to other ways to work through his emotion and gather his composure without disrupting the workplace and setting the wrong example for his assistants. The manager relapsed to his behavior once more after the coaching, but then was apologetic and since then has been setting the example instead of being the problem. He now has set his foundation for growth by developing the ability to manage his own emotions. The employer has a loyal employee who now can accept constructive criticism in the future without behaving badly.
3. They are able to look at both sides of the equation.
Employees in construction who leave before a project is finished, rationalizing that someone else can take over at this point for them, instead of having the conversations with their supervisors as to the timing ideal for both sides, are selfish. Webster Dictionary defines selfish as “lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure”. Timing is everything when maintaining relationships. The same holds true when managers have not been sincere with construction managers as to the odds they will land the next project to which they will go.
We work with employers who hire by project or for projects where a phase II or III is slated, but may not receive financing and approvals. These clauses in a construction manager’s offer letter constitute a commitment by the construction manager to stay until the end of the project and provides time and monetary support for the employee to transition out, if necessary, without fear of losing their job and income.
Office-based support roles should also plan their time to resign and offer to help train and transition the next person who will be doing their job. You will always have a favorable reference if you do so, as the employer was not left in the lurch. An example of this would be if a company is in the middle of an audit or your supervisor is scheduled to go out of town, then they are not given time to cross train from within, or hire someone new who can train with you.
If you are wrestling with how to gain control, maybe advice from a professional-wrestler-turned-motivational-coach will help. “In our personal and professional lives, we are constantly hit with one adversity after the other, most of which we have no control over. But the four things we have total control over is how we react, how we adapt, how we breathe, and how we take action.” –Diamond Dallas Page
Taking action by eliminating fear, communicating to develop trust, and coordinating your timing with what works for others, will provide you with a good start.