Paul Odom, MCAA Chairman
We sat down to write this after having a great weekend with our children and grandchildren. We had all of them in one house, which is both chaotic and wonderful, all at the same time. As grandparents, we have the opportunity to look at family life from the outside looking in, to a certain extent. You get to enjoy your children raising their families, without the responsibility of doing it yourselves.
After all, we have already had our chance for successes and some failures. However, what worked and did not work when we raised our children can (almost) all be thrown out the window. We are in a completely different world, with different challenges and different opportunities.
By now, you are probably wondering why I am discussing my family life, and how that is relevant to masonry. It has to do with running a business and managing a team. As an industry, we have been slow to change. In many ways, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” has been a lot of our mottos, mine included.
In some cases, it “is broken,” and we have ignored fixing it– denying that there is a problem, or just flat out being too busy to do anything to make a change (a.k.a. working IN the business and not ON the business). I say this from a place of reflection, as I am now stepping back and starting to let others run things…which is always easier said than done.
As I watch my children raise their own families I am looking from the outside in, and as I do that, I try to put myself in their shoes. The same goes for me with work. I try to put myself in the shoes of the team I work with.
In a lot of cases, they are quite different than the team was 20 years ago. I want to emphasize “different,” because different does not mean bad. Here are a few examples:
- They want to spend more time with their families. Treat your team as if they are part of your family, and understand their needs. When you really need them to put in some overtime to make a project happen, they will be more likely to welcome this opportunity.
- They like technology. Technology can come with a lot of benefits- electronic versions of timesheets, daily reports, plans, marketing opportunities, communication, etc. Allowing them to teach your “more experienced” folks who may be resisting these things can be a great team building opportunity.
- They want feedback- both good and bad. Tell your team what they are doing well, and what they need to improve on– and not just in their yearly review. You will find that this will work wonders to improve morale.
- They think outside the box. They are going to try to find ways to work smarter, not harder. Listen to them. Just because they do not have as much experience, does not mean they might not be sitting on the next best way to do things better and improve the success of your team.
It sounds like I am talking about millennials, right? Well, it is not just the millennials I am talking about. We are ALL changing in the way we work and the way we react to each other. Embrace it. Fighting it is going to be a battle you will not win.
From an “experienced” mason contractor, I am watching other contractors all over the nation start adapting very well to these changes. If you are a contractor that is being slower to change and really struggling with it, continue to follow what MCAA is doing. There are a ton of tools, trainings, free resources, and networking opportunities out there that can help your team evolve.
In the meantime, Thanksgiving is almost upon us, as is the season of giving. Be sure to show those who you work with; family, friends, and customers how much you appreciate them. I know I am thankful for mine!
Happy Holidays to you and yours from Susie and me!