What Happens When Owners Won’t Let Go?

The construction unemployment rate is almost back to pre-pandemic levels. Keeping your best talent must be a top priority versus an afterthought to avoid having key people tell you they’re leaving for a better opportunity. What are some of the key reasons great people leave good companies? Let’s look at what happens when business owners won’t let go of control or loosen their purse strings.

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Owners who don’t let go are generally stuck in the past remembering how it used to be. They loudly complain about how pay scales used to be much lower, how employee benefits were a privilege versus a requirement, and getting projects built for the lowest price was more important than taking care of their employees.

Now with the pressures of a limited talent supply and the need to hire and keep people, pay rates are growing at 5% to 20% annually. Old-school owners restrain and restrict hiring to happen at the new ridiculous pay and benefits required to attract and retain top talent. Guess what? When owners don’t let go of their old thinking, their companies can only go into a downward spiral.

Top Performers Don’t Want to Stay!

Companies who don’t offer their most valuable players or top new talent above market pay, results-based incentive compensation, significant profit sharing, or an investment in ongoing training and personal development, will continue to lose people at an alarming rate. As more openings become available for top employees with other companies, your players will look at their own pay packages and career growth opportunities, and then compare them to the marketplace. In addition, an owner who’s not willing to offer full pay and benefits at the highest levels will force employees to look for other places to work. Then what after they leave? Your company will have to find and then attract the right people to handle their workloads, pay top dollar with above-market compensation packages, and then train the new hires to take over the empty positions.

In addition, if your top supervisors and managers don’t have the ability to make major decisions, are being micromanaged, don’t have the latest cutting-edge technology or software, don’t get enough support, are required to do too much administrative paperwork themselves, don’t have assistants, are yelled at or treated with disrespect, and are not happy in their work environment, will quickly be looking for the door as plenty of great jobs are waiting for them across the street. And if the business owner doesn’t allow their best people to become a part of the company management team, grow and take on more leadership responsibility, run their own projects or departments, or handle larger projects with bigger workloads, employees will soon look elsewhere as well.

Think About Your Future Versus Your Current Problems!

Owners who don’t let go tend to think small, focus on how to save the most money, and don’t implement forward thinking. As a result, they don’t focus enough on their employee’s future and what they can do to help people achieve their own personal goals. Each employee and manager have personal and professional lives. The focus must be on what they want for their future and not what you want for your company. Most project managers, estimators, supervisors and foremen don’t want to do their current job for the next 30 years. They want their employer to work with them to allow progress toward advancement, more responsibility and better financial compensation. Does your company have a career plan for the key people to make them want to stay at your company? What accountabilities and responsibilities should the owner let go of and transfer to the top people to allow them to grow by delegating and letting go of some leadership roles and tasks?

Would You Want to Work for You?

When the owner won’t let go, people will leave the company. The best people want to take on more responsibility and be accountable for their results. When dictator-type business owners micro-manage and don’t allow people to make decisions, are second guessed or overruled, are dismissed for taking initiative, don’t have or see any potential to get ahead, and are not compensated at the market rate, will work at half speed and continue to look for better opportunities. This destructive controlling behavior causes top managers and the best people who have potential and a vision for their future, to seek new positions where they’ll get an opportunity to excel plus receive the trust and respect they deserve. The real question is: “Would I want to work for you?”

George Hedley, CSP, CPBC, helps contractors grow and profit as a professional business coach, popular speaker and peer group leader. He is the author of “Get Your Construction Business to Always Make a Profit!” and “Hardhat BIZSCHOOL Online University,” available on his website. Visit for more information.