Construction Leadership Insights

How to Stop Your Competition Stealing Your Best Employees

3 Ways to Lock-In the Long-Term Commitment of Talented People

Jamie Siminoff, the inventor of the Ring Video Doorbell, is on a mission to reduce crime in neighborhoods. A recent study done with the Los Angeles Police Department found that after installing Ring in 10% of the houses in an area, crime was reduced by 55%. Ring is a great way to prevent neighborhood theft because it helps you stop robbers from stealing your valuables.

Wouldn’t it be great if you had a similar device to help you thwart attempts to steal your best employees? Unfortunately, for construction company owners, that device doesn’t exist, and your competition are always looking to swipe your best employees.

Think for a moment about your succession plan (you have one, right?). A large part of its success depends on your ability to keep quality people. You are personally responsible for doing the hard work of locking in the long-term commitment of your most talented people, regardless of your rival’s attempts to lure them away.

Here are three ways for you to do that:

  1. Address Flight Risks
  2. Mentor
  3. Be Thankful

First let’s look at addressing flight risks.

If you don’t think your competition is trying to recruit your key people, you need to get your head out of the sand.

Earlier this week, a buddy of mine who holds an executive position in a very successful construction company got an email from the competition offering him a position. My friend wasn’t interested in making a move, but if he was it would have been easy for him to explore that opportunity.

How many of your people have received similar emails recently?

Make a list of all your key employees, particularly those whose commitment may be in question, and answer these questions:

  1. Why might they leave our company?
  2. What motivates them?
  3. How can we keep them motivated and engaged?

Once you’ve raised your own awareness levels about possible flight risks in your company, you can move onto the next step: Mentor

Sometimes you get so buried in work, you forget your greater responsibilities.

Cementing the long-term commitment of your best employees should be your number one priority. Think of the talented young people in your organization, the ones that brim over with intelligence and drive. The only thing they lack is experience and wisdom.

Mentoring relationships speed up a person’s growth as you provide them the benefit of your knowledge and good judgment on a regular basis.

Pick three people in your company and schedule lunch with them at least once per quarter for the next year.

At lunch ask them to share their biggest win, greatest challenge, and any recommendations they have for improving the company. Their answers will give you insight into how they are doing and provide you opportunity to give them guidance, motivation and even emotional support.

This leads us to the third way you can keep your employees from being stolen by the competition: Be Thankful

As you deepen your relationship with them, monitor their performance and look for opportunities to thank them

Construction requires long hours of hard work. Your best people procure work, drive production, and build relationships with key clients. They make you money today, and are a vital part of the future of your company. You are aware of this, but how often do you recognize them for the contribution they make?

A simple thank-you note is a great way to do this.

You might be surprised how deeply people are impacted by a few hand-written lines of recognition. If people know that their work is valued and that you personally appreciate their contribution, they are much more likely to stick with you for the long haul.

When was the last time a project manager, estimator, or worse, a key superintendent or foreman got hired away by your competition?

How did that effect the projects they were working on, not to mention the impact on your succession plan? Many studies show that the cost of losing an employee can range from tens of thousands of dollars to 1.5-2.0x the employee’s annual salary. Over the years, employee turnover can cost you millions of dollars.

Think about how much money and hassle you can save if you pay give more attention to cementing the loyalty of the talented people who are winning, planning, and building your work.

Years ago, I worked for a small office equipment company.

The two partners of the company did the selling, I was in charge of marketing and everyone else was in the service end of the business.

At the end of our first year in business we had a dinner to celebrate our successes. After dinner the owners gave out employee awards. I was recognized as “Marketer of the Year.” The problem? I was the only person in the marketing department.

When it came to showing their appreciation and thanks for the loyalty of their workforce, the owners had good intentions, but their execution was a little thoughtless.

As the company grew, so did their skill as leaders.

We went from four to thirty employees in just a couple of years, and the partners not only worked hard at selling, they focused on retaining in their best employees.

One of them developed the habit of stopping by my office on a Friday afternoon to chat. During our conversation, he would specifically thank me for something I had accomplished during the week.

This personal, specific act of thanks only took him a few minutes, and it was far more meaningful to me than any plaque I ever received.

Key employees not only help you succeed today, they are a vital part of your succession plans.

Operate under the assumption that your competition has targeted your key employees and they are actively trying to lure them away.

Your top leadership priority should be to ensure the long-term commitment of your best people, and stop your rivals from stealing them. Make sure you have identified and addressed any immediate flight risks; commit to mentoring; and take time to thank people for their hard work.

There will always be thieves, and preventing theft is big business.

Jamie Siminoff’s mission of reducing neighborhood theft has paid off handsomely for him. Ring was recently purchased by Amazon for $1 billion.

The energy and time you give to retaining your talented people and fending off your competition’s attempts to snatch them will have massive positive impact on your company now and in the future.

How far along are you in developing a succession plan?

Wherever you are in your journey, it’s helpful to stop and evaluate your progress. I’ve have a FREE short Succession Planning Assessment that you are welcome to take.

It addresses a number of critical areas, and will give you insights into where your plan is strong, and where it could use some improvement.

Click this link to take the assessment.

FREE Downloadable Resource:
Construction Leaders Dashboard

Do you lack focus and forward momentum? The Construction Leaders Dashboard is a simple, powerful tool for construction company leaders. Use it to clarify what you need to do in order to succeed. It includes: Vision, Mission, Values, Edge, Intitiatives, Metrics, Key Relationships,
and Development Opportunities.

To get your copy of the dashboard, click this link