When a small to midsize company is growing at a rapid pace, it can be extremely difficult to maintain organizational culture.
While culture may be something that can’t be quantified, it has an immense impact on client service. It’s impossible to keep clients happy without a content and motivated workforce. Furthermore, clients are acutely aware of the level of connection and loyalty that a construction professional feels toward his or her employer.
When it’s positive, company culture can result in increased productivity from dedicated team members who feel responsible for helping the company achieve its goals. What are things we can do to ensure the happiness of employees, who then, in turn, project that image to clients?
- Don’t forget what made the culture great in the first place. Identify what aspects of your company’s culture are most valued by employees and continue to focus on those things. For our company, the culture reflects our family-first philosophy. We understand that many longtime employees have stayed with us because of this, and it’s imperative that the family-oriented atmosphere is maintained.
- Hire the person, not their experience. While it’s certainly important to build a knowledgeable and experienced staff, some of my company’s top performers have been people who have made career changes. We make it a point to hire a diverse cross-section of people who we believe have the skills that translate to our business and, just as important, are a good fit for our culture. Furthermore, in a male-dominated industry, we’ve found that employing an above-average number of women has had a profoundly positive effect on culture.
- Empower employees to reach their full potential. At large construction firms, professionals can work on the same project for years and find themselves boxed in when the project is finally complete. In this sense, a small to midsize firm that takes on smaller, shorter projects has an advantage because it has the flexibility to expose young professionals to various aspects of the business.
- Additionally, to forge a team of dynamic and well-rounded employees, it’s important that every team member be aware and familiar with what other employees are working on. Is every member of your staff asked to bring ideas and solutions to the table, or told to sit tight and listen to their more experienced colleagues? Each week, our company holds a company-wide meeting where team members share challenges and successes.
- Retain strong performers by providing ample support and opportunity for growth. The No. 1 reason why people leave a company is because they do not feel valued. When employees feel empowered and supported, they are far more likely to stick around.
- Have fun. It sounds simple, but far too many construction firms fail to grasp the effect that a little bit of fun can have on company culture and, ultimately, on productivity. Using fun to recognize hard work has resulted in a workforce that is relaxed, motivated and more cohesive.
James Caulfield and Robert Caulfield are principals with Hoboken, N.J.-based Fields Construction Co.