Likeability, Longevity or Meritocracy?

Do you run a Meritocracy at your company? Once you do, it will be simple for you to answer the question I often ask employers regarding their uncertain employees. “Do they make you money, save you money or not?

A Meritocracy is a financial, career advancement and a personal reward system based on performance and not “likeability,” “longevity” or anything else. It is the power of the people based on their talent, effort, and achievement. It allows you to have widespread rewards among different people- as vast as the differences in performance that inevitably exist in an organization.

For the construction industry, this should be inevitable and can easily be achieved. Results Driven; Time, Quality and Budget – Front of House and Back of House – Labor to CEO, Consistently!

So why is it so difficult for so many leaders to achieve? The construction industry is a face to face, relational, action and results group of individuals that tend to reward on likeability and what they see or feel is happening at the moment versus what is measurable. We are an industry of people that like to work with people we relate to, as it makes us feel more in control. Therefore, why so many contracting firms tend to hire what we refer to as “Silver Tongued Devils.” They say all the right things, but when it comes to delivering the time, quality and budget results they tend to fast talk their way for more employment time, or they resign and sell what they don’t have to the next guy who will buy it.

The most profitable and successful companies know how to hire for ability, attitude, and aptitude. They know that once they hire an employee, they need to provide precise accountability measures to the employee. The best leaders know how to implement and measure performance. They rate a person’s performance on fact versus feeling. They hire based on cultural fit and qualifications not just how well they fraternize during the interview.

Don’t get me wrong. You do need to hire people that share your attitudes, beliefs and core values and there is a likeability factor associated with cultural fit. It is just not the deciding factor.

A few steps you can take toward a Meritocracy are:

Do a complete interview process before hiring. This includes a minimum of two face to face interviews, a minimum of 3 reference checks, assessments if you have doubts about a skill or behavior and a minimum of two people should interview this person, and one of them must be their direct supervisor.

Once to offer stage outline what makes this person successful at 30 days, 90 days, one year of employment. Each year set clear objectives and implement the way to measure this.

If they are a Project Manager then it can be:

Project schedule and budget confirmed and signed off by a supervisor at 30 days.

Project mobilized and bought out within 90 days.

At one-year mark project closed out on schedule and under budget, reference letter from the client. Next project assigned and annual review.

Make sure they understand what systems and people they will work with and need to communicate clearly through or with to measure this data.

Discuss up front how your compensation, advancement and review process work. A written bonus plan outlining the reward for meeting the rating expectations also takes away the wonder of the award they will receive for meeting expectations.

With clear communication and measurement tools in place, it is much easier to part ways with an employee without feeling guilt or pain. If you show them what is expected and they choose not to do it or are incapable of doing it they decided their fate, you did not do anything to hurt them. You are protecting your business and the others that producing profitable results.

There are other steps you can take over time that improve communications, clearly outline expectations and allow you to see who is making or saving you money within your organization. We are always here to help you if you have any questions and remember if you like them, but they can’t do the job make them a friend and not an employee. You will be more likely to have your result employees stay, helping you stay in business.

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