By Ron Pestone
A good manager does not suck up all the glory for himself, he spreads it around. He is the voice that gets to the office to let the principal of the company know what a great job the foreman or the project manager did on a job. He lets the field know who the layout engineer in the office is who did such a great job on the installation drawings. While managers in the other camp excel at pointing out the negative successful knowledgeable, successful managers are quick to point out the positive contributions of their people. These managers can accept shortcomings as long as those shortcomings don’t affect the bottom line. They are willing to help any employee willing to improve but as I said before the really bad apples are let go.
Now we come to the real crux of the matter. There is real truth in the old saying, ‘Pigs eat themselves to slaughter’. This is where really good managers and owners shine. They share some of the company profits with their key people. Successful superintendents, foreman, project executives and project managers receive bonuses in addition to their paycheck when they bring in profitable jobs. If it’s a small job it might be only $100., maybe only a tank of gas on a tiny job. On large multi-million jobs a bonus might be in the $50,000. To $100,000. range.
All the key people in the office from administration people to vice presidents get bonuses at least once a year. The reason for bonuses are two fold, they show appreciation and they since everyone can count they show that the boss isn’t a pig.
If you have ever been on a major project you understand your top people, your foreman, and project managers are working in a war zone.. Their jobs are 24/7 and none of it is easy. So after these guys broke their backs for the company and two years after they brought in a job that made a few million dollars profit and you don’t do anything for them with a bonus you just send them on their way to the next project. What do you think you are going to get from these guys. Do you think they are going to break their backs again? Your think they have a kind spot in their hearts for you? I have been in this business for over fifty years and one thing I know for sure the guys and gals in the field are pretty smart and they can add with the best of us and they sure as hell don’t like to be used and abused In their mind as well as the bosses two and two still equals four. In a tiny job when your guy has to deal with an unreasonable homeowner and manage to finish the job at a profit you own the guy a bit more than, “thank you”.
You can go into great detail discussing each camp but it all boils down to fear or respect. When you start your business you need to pick one or the other. If you are a horrible human being the decision is already made for you, fear is the answer. To me it has always been simple, treat people the way I want to be treated. As far as firing goes, and I have done my share in my career, I never fired anyone, they fired themselves.
Good managers know their people, their families, their likes and dislikes. Good managers need to understand the power of random acts of kindness. I have seen more than one tough guy choke up when a manager did something nice for him. And it doesn’t all have to be about money. Maybe it’s a couple of tickets to a ball game or time off a kids game.
So when you look at your people, think about yourself and your family and what makes you happy. Think about what kind of manager you want to be when you walk the job. Do you let your people know that you appreciate them and the quality of the installation they just put in. Do you know your foreman’s son’s name. Do you know your project managers personality.
Construction is a people business and you need to know your people. When they see you walking the job you want to see them poke the guy next to them and say with pride, “that’s the boss”.
I will say it to my last breath, the only way to maintain long time success as a manager is to manage with respect. Managing by fear is for the movies and the best you can hope for is short term gains. Circumstances and the men will win out in the end.
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