Good Employees Are Created, not Hired:
Get your employees to help build your brand by training and helping them achieve their goals
I have noticed a recurring
theme in questions posed to the MBCEA "Ask the Experts" and Mentor
Program. Similar questions present an argument for why an erector
should not invest in apprenticeship or accreditation. Maybe this
sounds familiar to you. How do I find good people? How do I keep
good people? Why should I invest in my people or an apprenticeship
program because they will only leave me?
This whole concept is foreign to me. Most of my employees have
been with me since they were young boys. I don't know how to put
this any plainer-you don't hire them; you create 'em!
Kids don't grow up saying "I want to be an assembler of metal
buildings." But most kids do grow up wanting to be appreciated, to
make a difference, to earn a good living, to be treated fairly, to
feel pride in a good day's work, etc. If you satisfy these basic
needs, you find and keep good people.
Many of you who know me know my style is best described as
"biker." Bikers put a lot of emphasis on their "colors." I treat my
company brand as my colors. My men know when they wear my colors
they are an extension of me. I have their backs but by the same
token they know not to cross me. I take care of their training
needs, I offer a fair remuneration package, decent benefits, etc.
and in return I expect them to represent me to the best of their
abilities. My team knows where they stand with me. They know where
I draw the line. They know I am willing to invest in them and to
help develop them to the best of their abilities. But they also
know they have to give me 110 percent at all times and be true to
This isn't exactly rocket science, nor am I suggesting you break
the budget. Successful teams have a culture of accountability and
shared responsibility. There is a pride in what is done. So how do
you create this culture? First of all, it can't be about you; it
must be about team. What does the team need? Training and
leadership. It's that simple. Leadership is the subject for another
day but training is easy.
Training can be expensive but not if you belong to the MBCEA.
The tools and training materials are readily available from the
association. Pride follows the training. Every training course the
MBCEA offers issues a certificate or a wallet card. These are
designed to instill pride in your company and our trade. This will
evolve into a work ethic and commitment to you.
The MBCEA Chapters routinely offer training and certifications
simply for the price of lunch. Important classes and certifications
like OSHA-10, Rigging 1, Fall Hazards Safety, Hot Work Safety,
Torch Cutting Safety and Global Harmonized System (the old MSDS
program). The Quality & Craftsmanship Training Series is $500
but can be used over and over. A sure-fire way to indoctrinate your
new hires is to have them watch the series before you send them to
a job site. Let them first hear the basic lingo, rules, concepts,
etc. Note I did not say learn; I said hear. The series will expose
them to words like purlin, girt, spud wrench, etc. It will show
them how to be safe and how to fit in with the team. Let them know
before they complete one year, they are going to watch the series
again, but this time be tested on it. Let them know you expect them
to pass that test and that you know they can do it. Maybe tie a
raise to the satisfactory completion of all modules.
When it is time to hire, you can take a young kid fresh from the
farm or someone with experience. Depending on your circumstances,
either may be appropriate. Regardless of who you choose, be
prepared to indoctrinate him or her in your colors from day one.
Make sure new hires know where they stand, what is expected of them
but also what is in it for them. Sure this takes longer and
involves an investment and commitment from the top, but if all you
have to sell is labor (man hours) shouldn't you invest and commit
to your laborers?
Let's face it, pride, passion, integrity, belief in what you do
and commitment to safety all must start at the top. The guy at the
top must have a core set of values that is intrinsic to everything
the company does. There cannot be two sets of rules-one for the
bosses and another for the team. You cannot preach safety and then
turn a blind eye to save a few dollars. Your crew isn't dumb; they
know what is important to you. They also know if they are not.
Gary T. Smith is President of Thomas
Phoenix International, Inc. He proudly serves as President of the
Metal Building Contractors and Erectors Association and Chair of
the Metal Buildings Institute Apprenticeship Committee. He is an
outspoken proponent of training and education for the metal
building industry. To know more, visit www.mbcea.org or firstname.lastname@example.org.