- Develop and communicate a shared vision for the team. People will support what they helped create. Ask for your employees’ input whether you’re creating a mission statement, writing a business plan, developing a marketing campaign or brainstorming strategies to ramp up production. Don’t just say, “Here’s what we’re going to do.”
- Spell out the rules. That goes for procedures, as well. It helps to have written policies for everything — personnel matters, contract administration, issuing starts to the field, discussing scope-of-work changes with clients, closing out warranty service tickets, etc.
Whatever the rules and procedures are, make yourself accountable to them, too. “Let people know, ‘These are the rules I expect you to follow. I will follow them, too,’” says Saltzman.
- Spell out the roles. Everyone needs to know what’s expected of them and how their role in the company relates to everyone else’s. Clarify duties and responsibilities for each job. And don’t be afraid to change them — with your employees’ input — if the situation changes. Encourage your team to be flexible and remain flexible yourself.
(A resource for defining roles is "Job Descriptions for the Home Building Industry, Third Edition." Details are at the end of this article.)
- Create a climate of trust, cooperation and innovation.“This means talk, listen and keep listening,” Saltzman says. “It’s tough to listen, especially if you hear things you don’t want to hear or stuff that sounds crazy.” However, it’s in your best interest to be open to change and new ideas. They may be good ideas — or the seeds of good ideas.
If you are swamped with work or are having a lousy day, don’t just turn employees away when they come to discuss problems or ideas with you. If you can’t talk then and there, schedule a convenient time to get together. Then stick to it.
- Lead with integrity. Put your values into action. This has a lot to do with following the rules you expect your employees to follow. “Be tough on principles, not people,” Saltzman advises.
If someone drops the ball on customer follow-up or doesn’t post checks by a certain day, don’t make it personal. Just refer back to what everyone agreed to do as a team (that’s why it’s important to spell out roles) and remind the person that his or her responsibilities are integral to everyone else’s.
- Provide adequate tools, rewards and recognition. Employees need the right training and equipment to do their jobs. They also need incentives like good compensation and positive reinforcement to maintain a high level of productivity.
Let employees know what kinds of rewards and recognition they’ll receive. It could be a bonus, a better parking spot or a mention in the company newsletter. “Without rewards — and the communication of those rewards — ‘What’s in it for me?’ goes unanswered,” says Saltzman. “And that’s not good.”
Lead with optimism and enthusiasm. You and your employees must believe that the team can accomplish its goals and vision. “Enthusiasm — like fun — is contagious,” says Saltzman. “Make it a habit to share your passion, remind your team of its vision and lead every day with optimism.” Your employees will work harder, be committed and bring your team closer to achieving its goals and vision.
'Job Descriptions for the Home Building Industry, Third Edition,' Available at BuilderBooks.com.
"Job Descriptions for the Home Building Industry, Third Edition," available through BuilderBooks.com, contains 40 job descriptions for home building industry employees, plus sample company organization charts, job description forms, electronic documents on CD and other tools. To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665 to order.
Business Management Publications Available at BuilderBooks.com
BuilderBooks.com also offers a variety of publications about business management. To view or purchase these publications, click here.
Want More Information About Effectively Managing Your Business?
NAHB’s Business Management Department offers a variety of online resources to help you run your business better and more profitably. Click Business Management Tools for articles about human resources, financial management, sales, production, technology, customer service and other business-related topics.
Subscribe to NAHB’s Business of Building e/Source
NAHB’s Business of Building e/Source is your monthly electronic guide to the hot issues and emerging trends in home building business management. You’ll find practical advice, tricks of the trade and sound business guidance — all delivered monthly, straight to your desktop, in a quick and easy-to-read format. Business of Building e/Source is available free to NAHB members and their employees. To subscribe, click here on the members only side of www.nahb.org.
University of Housing Offers Courses on Business Management
The NAHB University of Housing offers a course on business management designed to help builders improve their business and profitability. For a list of current offerings, click here. Search keywords: “Introduction to Business Management.”
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