Real Issues. Real Answers: Creating Great Employees

June 6, 2017 Rick Schumacher

Great employees

As far as your customers are concerned, your employees are your company. With housing and remodeling heating up, and LBM dealers reporting difficulty attracting next-gen workers to complement their aging workforces, the search for great employees is in the spotlight. This months’ Real Issue focuses on this timely challenge, with readers weighing in with their insights.

This month’s question came from a dealer in the Upper Midwest who wrote, “Our challenge is creating great employees. Streamlining all jobs so they accomplish more without the employee actually working harder, but always staying busy, making the company money for every dollar spent on wages. You will always have different work ethics, but the more you make the job palatable and remove the stress by steam lining, the more work you will get out of your employees. Technology, tools, equipment, trucks and infrastructure will get more productivity. Beyond the streamlining jobs and having the right tools, what are other dealers doing to create great employees?”

As we do each month, we built a brief survey around that question, and sent it via email to the subscribers who’ve opted in to receive our email communications. A big thank you to readers who took time to share their insights into this issue. If you’re not receiving the email surveys and would like to participate, please email me at Rick@LBMJournal.com, and I’ll make sure you’re added to the list.

The Question
Considering how hard it can be to find and hire qualified candidates, it’s critical that LBM dealers get the most from their people. The question is, considering elements like compensation, company culture, recognition, opportunity for growth, work/life balance, etc., what’s the secret to creating great employees?

The Responses

“It’s a balance of all of the above. And that balance is going to vary somewhat for each individual employee. That is the trick: finding a way to balance all of these things in an equitable and evenhanded way across your workforce.”

“The secret to creating great employees is to give them ownership in the vision. Communicating the ‘why’ behind company goals and making sure all employees know how they fit in the big picture, is really what it’s all about. Once you have their buy in, making sure they have the training/ tools to get the job done, is how [our company] keeps moving forward and retains our amazing team members. We are great because of our people. They make the difference.”

“We’ve had success by using education and reward incentives to help our people grow personally and professionally—which helps make our company that much better.”

“Being the best leader and boss as you possibly can.”

“The secret is to be a coach/leader, making sure to share all new product and business info. Even though companies are run by only a few people, dictatorships aren’t the best way for a company to get the most from its people.”

“I think it’s different for each employee. People are motivated by different things, so trying to find what motivates each employee and then looking for ways to accommodate them is a start. You also need to make sure that each employee is clear on what the company’s expectations are, and then make sure that they are adhered to. Employees who can see that they will be rewarded by meeting company objectives quite often seem to go above and beyond what you’d expect. The flip side of all of this is parting ways with people who are not moving in the same direction, as they will drag your better performers down if you let them.”

“One-on-one training is critical.”

“Maintain excellence and treat your employees like you would like to be treated. It is important that employees feel appreciated. That starts with being paid fairly.”

“Compensation must be consistent with the specific market and include benefits. Companies must provide training and opportunity for growth, while defining clear performance expectations.”

“Finding the right people to begin with. You can have great pay, give them room to grow, have a pleasant place to work and still have a malcontent, negative employee who tries their best to tear down everything that the company has worked long and hard to accomplish and establish. It starts with how they were taught by their parents. Knowing right from wrong, what is accepted as proper conduct. A person who doesn’t have a good foundation can’t be a great employee.”

“Positive recognition for a job well done.”

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