While reading The Washington Post this week, I came across an article that states “But there’s one statistic that has been vexing economists. The size of the nation’s workforce — known as the labor force participation rate — continues to fall.” The picture in the article shows a construction worker. My first thought was from what angle is the construction industry not affected when it comes to the workforce?

It seems like the construction industry here in the U.S., although booming and offering jobs that pay well, has a challenge in finding men and women who find a sense of purpose by participating in the workforce.  Men and women who are naturally driven to be able to navigate the extreme conditions in our industry.

Just this week alone, we have done coaching sessions involving a job site bully and a near-fatality.  Our industry brings daily challenges and dynamics like no other, yet those with inborn drive continue to push through and keep coming back.  Or do they?

The top employers are hesitant to hire someone that has longevity issues on their resume.  They should be.  In a “fight or flight” situation, that person has a higher risk of flight.  Sometimes they do not have the inborn drive and get let go.  Yes, the majority of people that get let go in the construction industry while a company still has ongoing projects are unable to keep up with the pack, in action, results and communication.  Construction is a team sport with no bench and no practice. From day one you are in the game and need to be focused on moving the ball down the road.

How do you tell if you are hiring someone who has inborn drive and motivation? 

One way to tell is to administer an assessment like the DiSC profile.  The DiSC will show you the person’s priority scales, which can then be used to do comparison reports showing how their drive relates to their co-workers.

People with different communication styles that share the same drive typically motivate one another and balance each other out in areas like skeptical and accepting.  You may have a Superintendent and a Project Manager that both share the same drive, but your superintendent tends to be skeptical of all the sub-contractors.  If your Project Manager is more accepting than the superintendent, then he or she can help balance the relationships out, calming the Superintendent down and putting all in perspective.

Other ways to tell if you are matching equally-driven employees is to look and listen.  Often one person on the team, although qualified and operating in the same direction as the others, may not be able to keep up with the others, therefore causing frustration.  This person may be qualified for our industry, but just a wrong match for the culture of your company. You will hear things like “we are waiting for”, “they did not respond yet”, “his or her part is not in”, etc.

You as a leader can help instill and build drive and motivation in your employees.  You do this by addressing and not brushing these issues under the table.  You will find that the majority of the time the person does not realize they are slowing others down, possibly due to a bad habit of not speaking and acting in results.  Not talking in results can cause teammates unnecessary delays and aggravation.  Learning to speak results can often inspire action to actually achieve the results.

Below is a hand-out for teaching people to speak results. 

If your team works on speaking results, then their actions will follow.  The results of your taking time to address could be the difference between the industry being one good man up or one good man down.  As the press tells us daily, we don’t have any good men to lose!

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