Employees with Pulses

I was recently helping a friend of mine create a hiring process.
I’ve had a fair amount of experience similar to his line of work…the trades, and I was forever frustrated that every company wanted to hire the best people, but secretly settled for anyone with a pulse.
“Hi! We just landed a giant job and need some form of human bodies to do it! We likely won’t even check whatever resume you send (including past employers or references, so feel free to say whatever looks good on paper), and you will be one of many emotional hires by management who have little idea what happens on whatever site you get sent to and don’t really care until something goes wrong.”
It’s hard to build a successful company on “employees with pulses” (though it could be said with a pulse is better than without), but it was common practice in our industry simply because it had always been that way.
I love how widespread great hiring practices are now if you have any sort of energy to look, but I think great companies have these two things in common:
  1. You have to have a white hot WHY
  2. You have to hire the best people to have the best company
The companies I’ve worked for in the past had such amazing unspoken mottos as:
“Make us money so we can retire early” and
“Shut up and do what you’re told” (Actually only the first one was unspoken:)
We’ve all left companies we dreaded working at with zero emotional attachment, but I think it was only reciprocated from the seed the company was sowing in the first place. How many times per year did your supervisor ask about your family?
Unhealthy management has an amazing way of attracting unhealthy people, or of turning healthy workers into bureaucratic ones which is always a shame.. I hate when a high performer comes in and learns that their team secretly hates them for actually expending energy at work and resorts to informing them as quickly as possible “how things work around here”, more accurately “how to work around work here”.
I’ve seen heavy tools thrown across parking lots and phones thrown against walls. I actually had a supervisory deliver his wisdom when I was learning to run crews by telling me “Workers are like dogs, they need to be yelled at!” To which I replied “…and given milk bones if they’re good?”
“NO!” was the memorable response.
What a simple thing it would have been to have shown some sort of interest in the careers of the people working for you, or their families, or … anything?
I remember the pressure I was under when I started running sites with very little experience. I’m very sure the pressure rolled downhill because I was afraid of losing my job and that wasn’t a pleasant experience in the beginning. But as each location changed I started realizing that the most productive people were generally the happiest ones (though there were always extremely happy people who were in a good mood because they didn’t actually do any work if it could be helped), and the healthy crews made the most money.
Hey, what if we didn’t want just a person’s hands but also their brains? To motivate their brains we need a Why that they can get behind that isn’t made from money.
I work in the NFP world now but am grateful for what I learned from most of the companies I was with: How NOT to motivate people. It sounds funny but that’s what it amounted to more often than not.
I once had a funny experience with a business owner who said to me “You don’t understand how hard it is to motivate people because you work in not for profit”
“Right” I said “It’s waaaaay easier asking people to give their hard earned resources to support what we do and volunteer their time for free? You’re struggling to motivate people that you’re paying to be here:)!”
He had a misconception about what why healthy people kept leaving his company. I knew people who had left and I didn’t hear a single one say it was over money, in fact people rarely leave over money, most leave because they don’t like their managers. He had failed to instil a reason that mattered into the manager.
…Because he had no WHY.
Who cares who you work for if they can’t tell you WHY? People need purpose. They need to be treated like THIS IS SO IMPORTANT WE’VE GOT TO DO OUR BEST OR ______ WON’T HAPPEN!! WE CAN’T IMAGINE _____ NOT HAPPENING!!
So here’s a quick questions check list of some minor tweaks to hire and keep better people, and all of this is from actual experience:
  1. Workers are NOT dogs? No.
  2. Workers don’t like milk bones as rewards? No, see #1.
  3. Workers don’t care how amazing my accomplishments are if I never ask them for input? No.
  4. Workers main motivation is not for me to retire early? Heck no.
  5. Workers have lives outside of work? Most people who aren’t furniture do.
So try it sometime…
“Hey, how can I help you today? And…
What’d you do with the family last night?”
But careful! The more you ask the more you’ll care:)

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