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The world of infectious diseases is no joke, especially when it’s in the workplace. It’s like this: Have you ever had a coworker who has the flu and comes in anyway hoping to just press through and get things done, but after a few days, half of the company is out sick because of it?
That is exactly what company culture is. It is a living, breathing continuation of one person’s input to another, and before long, you’re creating standards and setting boundaries according to personalities and preferences or worse — bad attitudes.
If you want to build a workforce for your office and field staff that actually sticks with you, it starts with controlling and creating a culture that thrives on the positive and makes coming to work every day a privilege instead of a dread.
Yes, sometimes growing a company properly requires us to cut some bad eggs loose. But at the end of the day, it’s worth it if we can all be more successful and less stressed because of it.
So, how do we improve our culture to impact our technician and team member retention and acquisition? Let’s take a look.
Set sights on your moral compass: The moral compass of a company starts with the mission statement, the vision statement and the purpose statement; in short, it’s the overall “why we do what we do” (and why we run a company instead of work for a more successful one).
That moral compass needs to be clearly aligned with the “Why and What.” That is, why we do what we do, what is allowed, and what is expected.
A good example of a mission statement would be:
Our mission is to help customers in our community by providing the best possible craftsmanship and solving the issues others failed to solve, all while turning a sizable profit that will allow us to grow as a company, take great care of our team, and have the right tools for the right job every time!
Now the “What is expected” part:
This company is built on the firm foundation of Honesty (never deceiving a customer or evading their questions), Integrity (doing what we said we would do, or more than was promised every time, but never less!) and Craftsmanship (always working to impress and going the extra mile with a lot more WOW than anyone else to prove to our customers that not only are we the best, but also “you get what you pay for”).
When these standards are not in place, a company starts dying bit by bit, beginning with craftsmanship. When craftsmanship dies, customers complain, profits drop, and your team abandons ship.
Set realistic expectations and clear boundaries: Creating a culture that your techs crave starts with you. Respect that they do good work, commend them for what they do well, and ultimately mold their work to your expectations.
After all, the No. 1 relationship killer is unrealistic expectations. If we expect a standard, but don’t give them the tools to perform to that standard, then that’s unrealistic. When we don’t treat them as our most valuable assets, we set them up for failure. We must let them go home at a decent time to see their families and not run them dry. The more profitable they can be in 40 hours, the better off everyone is.
My ultimate vision today is that every trade technician that uses my systems and processes should be able to make enough money to support their family without their spouse having to work and without having to work overtime to do it. Overtime and bonuses should always be the gravy, not the requirement to survive, especially when we are in the skilled trades industry.
Remember, never ask someone to do something that you wouldn’t do (and sometimes, we need to add “that you wouldn’t do for what you are paying them to do it for”).
Eliminate the vinegar: One of the worst parts of being an employee in any job setting is watching your boss tolerate someone with the wrong attitude, someone with a “vinegar” personality.
We all have that former employee or coworker in mind. That “vinegar” employee takes a pure group with a collectively good work ethic and attitude and taints it with negativity, laziness and other qualities that make morale plummet. It’s contagious, and once an environment becomes sour, it’s a difficult process to change back, and then you’re really in a pickle. Show your techs you respect the good stuff by knowing when enough is enough and doing something about it. Back to those boundaries, right?
There’s no free lunch: Remember, you can take a dishonest person, and they are going to do the dishonest thing every time, even if it’s just a little bit harder.
Therefore, start building your workforce by hiring good, honest people, AKA people with a good attitude toward life in general (skills are nice, but can be taught as well), then outline your basic expectations from the start. Provide accountability by spot-checking their work and giving positive but structural feedback so that they can begin to bend to your vision of craftsmanship (this is setting your boundaries). You should do this on a regular basis (at bare minimum once per week in the beginning for sure and continue to do so at least twice a month per team member).
If your team members are ever going to carry your vision and take ownership of their jobs, then you not only have to lead them, but you also have to provide them with the expectations, training, and ultimately, the ability to make decisions on their own.
Easier said than done, yes, but very worth it in the long run. People want to know that they belong, and they want to be respected and praised for doing their part, both monetarily and publicly
So remember, there is no free lunch. Start teaching your team how to take pride in paying for theirs now! All in all, it will become a lifelong lesson, and they will not forget where it came from. You’ll see that even though some of them will consider going to the grass on the other side, most will stay, and many will come back. In the long run, working in a culture that propels you forward in life is something that most all of the successful people in your industry are searching for. Now it’s time for that culture to be with you!