That’s a simple equation, right?
Engaged workers care more.
They think about those who follow in the schedule.
They’re more likely to help solve problems before you know about them.
You know workers who fit this description, but you don’t know enough of them.
Why is that?
It’s not them.
Here are 3 ways you can help encourage worker engagement. For more on the topic, here’s a link to Dan Pink’s book, DRiVe: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us along with my Libro 52 review of that book.
UNO :: Purpose
Under which set of directions would you work harder:
Show up on time and hang a minimum of 36 sheets of drywall. Don’t miss the studs with the screws. Apply the glue right before you hang the board. Throw away your lunch garbage or you’ll be fired.
This school will develop over 1000 grade schoolers every year – 100 of which are special-needs students who desperately need a quality environment to learn. Our goal is to build a school worthy of our own children. Your work is critical to the success of the job. The quality of the drywall and paint overwhelmingly determines the level of craftsmanship perceived by the owners of the project as a whole. Let’s strive to impress the students who attend this school. We appreciate your craftsmanship & expertise in making this school a great place to learn.
Workers want more than just a job – they want a place where they can make a difference. Construction managers often fail to articulate the true Purpose for English-speakers, let alone Spanish-speakers.
Your Purpose should be short, sweet, and direct: 100 words or less. To help you communicate yours, Red Angle will happily translate your Purpose into Spanish for your workers.
(Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
DOS :: Autonomy
Autonomy is epitomized by the advice of former 3M CEO William McKnight: Hire good people and leave them alone.
Requesting input from your workers is a form of appreciation for their skills and intelligence. Ask the team how you can make their job easier, use less material or simplify the design for future work.
After all, who knows more about plumbing – you or your plumber?
Outline the goals and ask the plumbers how they can best achieve it.
You’ll be surprised by what you hear.
For Spanish-speakers, this is especially true. The language barrier – real or perceived – often results in zero comunicación. Find the bilingual plumber and schedule a brief Q&A during break one day to pick their brains. This rarely (if ever) happens, so be prepared to stand out.
TRES :: Care
Say ¿Qué tal? on your morning rounds.
Say ¡Excelente! when you see great work.
Say Porfa. when requesting work be done.
Say Gracias. when you see your life getting easier.
Or maybe start with smile.
Caring about your workers doesn’t require a big budget… or any budget at all. It does require you to budget your time though: caring takes time. Going out of your way to appreciate your workers isn’t hard, but it’s certainly not easy.
That’s why most managers don’t do it.
Developing engaged workers expands your leadership and reduces your management.
Engaged Workers = Less BS for You.
So be selfish.
Think about other people.
Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish (and a bit of Polish…) language gap in the construction industry.
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