How to Build an Enthusiastic Workforce
It’s my son’s Josh’s birthday this week (we do birthday weeks in our family, nothing too over the top, but it’s nice not to jam everything into one day). He’s turning ten. He’s been thinking about his birthday for months; reaching double digits is a big deal. He’s excited about getting gifts and pumped about having a party with his friends. His enthusiasm is off the charts.
How enthusiastic are your employees about your company and their contribution to your organization’s long-term success? Is it possible for them to begin to reach Josh’s level of excitement for his birthday?
In this post, we’ll explore:
- Why enthusiasm is vital in a construction company
- The four causes of a lack of enthusiasm
- The consequences of low enthusiasm
At the end of the post, I’ll give you some practical tips for generating and maintaining enthusiasm.
Why enthusiasm is vital in a construction company
Enthusiasm is a great excitement or interest in a cause. Construction is competitive, stressful, and demanding. It requires various people’s engagement and teamwork to bid, plan, build, and then get paid for the projects you do. And if you don’t have enthusiasm, it’s almost impossible in construction to achieve long term success.
The four causes of a lack of enthusiasm
If your employees are not excited, it’s probably because of one, or more, of these four causes:
First, no one has taken time to identify the organization’s purpose, a genuine reason for existing that people can understand and commit their careers to live out. To generate enthusiasm, you have to be able to articulate that deep purpose.
Next, there’s an absence of a challenging set of values.Good people love to be tested by standards of behavior that push them to perform at high levels. The best companies understand this and craft a clear set of values that their people rally around. These drive the way they show up on a job site, interact with clients, and treat one another. They make the business unique and create a sense of pride.
Thirdly, people lack enthusiasm when they don’t see a long-term strategy for the company. Think about the work you’re currently building. Are they the right projects for the right clients in suitable locations? Or, did you randomly pick them up to keep your guys busy, and you’re thinking, “I’m never going to build for this guy again?” If that’s going through your mind, you can bet your employees are thinking the same thing, and it’s impacting their morale. One of the best ways to generate excitement in your company is to build and communicate a strategic plan that people are confident will result in working on good projects for great owners.
Finally, if leadership hasn’t taken the time to identify the company’s top priority that everyone can rally around, it’s tough for employees to be enthusiastic. Do your people know what your company must achieve in the next 90 days to be successful? If not, it can be challenging for them to show up to work every day and give a consistent effort. Enthusiastic employees understand how their daily actions contribute to the company’s top priorities.
The consequences of low enthusiasm
The first is a deficit of engagement. You see it in companies where employees don’t hold each other accountable for behavior and results, and the leadership is always playing the “bad cop.” This lack of commitment leads to poorly managed projects, pissed off customers, and profit fade. When you have unsuccessful projects and dissatisfied clients, it’s not fun to work in your business. And when it’s not fun, your very best employees are going to answer the call of the headhunters or their buddies that work for the competition, and you will lose talent.
The final consequence is personal to you. Your stress goes up, and you lose money. If it’s all pain, no pleasure, no profit, what’s the point?
Here are some steps you can take to generate enthusiasm immediately.
First, get together with your key leaders. The ones that you know are, at their core, enthusiastic. Ask, and start trying to answer four questions:
- Purpose: why do we exist?
- Personality: how do we behave?
- Plan: how will we succeed?
- Priority: what’s most important right now?
These questions are the cornerstone of The Triangle One Page Plan framework. If you’re interested in taking a deeper dive into the framework, and learning how to use it in your company, listen to this episode of my podcast, Construction Genius:
Check out what one of my clients, Sandra Dawson of Dawson-Mauldin, says about the Triangle framework:
“When I first saw the topics that you wanted to discuss in our workshop, in terms of the purpose, the personality, the plan, and the priority, I thought it would be touchy-feely.
It reminded me of stuff I did while working on my MBA; it seemed kind of corny.
However, the workshop’s actual results felt very relevant, which created an enthusiasm for the future that I had never seen in the employees before.”
Back to my ten-year-old son
As part of the “birthday week” festivities, we have a tradition of going to our favorite ice creamery in Sacramento, Leatherby’s, and getting thick chocolate chip malts for the whole family. Josh has been thinking about the malts for at least the last three weeks. He’s been bugging me for a time and day to go and get them. He has no problem with enthusiasm.