The Hiring Secret of Successful Construction and Development Companies

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We hear it every day. “I can’t find anyone to fill these roles.” “There aren’t enough skilled people out there.” “Millennials don’t want to work hard.” “We hire people who say they can do the job but they really can’t.” “We hire people but they soon leave for a job that pays more.” Hiring is hard, you tell us. It’s hard to find people: the industry is booming and there aren’t enough people looking for a job, you say. It’s hard to keep them: other companies, feeling the same crunch, are willing to spend more, you note.

But the most successful companies don’t see it this way. They have a secret hiring weapon. Instead of looking for people who have done the job before or who match the skills listed in the job description, successful companies hire good people and train them. The truth is that there are more than enough good people out there.

Here’s an example. A general contracting company we know was having a heck of a time finding project coordinators. There were not a lot of people with the skills, education, and experience they had listed in their job ads. They ended up hiring and firing a few people who fit the job description but who didn’t do a good job. Each time they hired and fired it cost them time, money, and clients. What they really needed were people who were organized, client-focused, and who cared about getting the details right. So last year they hired a former office manager and trained them in construction project systems. It took a couple of months to get them up to speed but it was worth it. Today, that one-time office manager is still rocking a career as PC in this company.

How to Hire Good People

Here’s how you can hire like that GC. Good people are the ones who fit your company and who will remain happily productive as part of your company. Good people fit because they have personal talents and values that match what you need. While they may have specific technical skills, too, technical skills aren’t nearly as important. Notice how the GC gave up looking PC skills (e.g. MS Project proficiency, familiarity with the shop drawings process, general construction knowledge). And see how they started looking for deeper, more personal talents and values like client-focus and caring about details?

List the top three personal skills you need in someone who’ll be successful in your job. Often, you can identify these skills by looking at people who are NOT doing well. What personal talents and values are they missing? Does this mean you ignore technical skills? Not at all. Sometimes specific technical skills and qualifications are essential. It makes no sense to hire a senior plumber, say, who isn’t properly trained and licensed. But you may be better off hiring a less-experienced plumber with the right personal skills than a senior plumber without. Once you’ve identified the personal skills you need, search for them. You can put up job ads that feature these skills and target people in other industries that have these skills. Or better yet, get on WRKS and search for people who have what you’re looking for. We built WRKS to make it easy to find people with both the personal and technical skills you want.

How to Train Good People

We will have more to say later about setting up training programs that fit your company, making training affordable, and keeping training vital instead of dry-dull-deadly. In the meantime, keep in mind these quick tips:

  • Give them small things they can try then master. Some people learn audibly: tell them and they’ll get it. Some learn visually: show them and they’re good. Some learn kinesthetically: step them through the motions and they’ll know it. But everyone learns by doing. Have them tag along with you. Find some small thing that they can do, show-explain-or-demonstrate it, have them try it, coach them to do it even better next time, and repeat with the next task. They’ll soon start anticipating and proactively taking on tasks from you.
  • Outsource. Some training is so common and readily available that it makes sense to pay someone else to do for you. Some, like safety training, should only be done by outside experts.
  • Think win-win. Companies often fear that if they invest in training people, they will lose out when those people leave for another job. While you can never control this, you can commit to training people if you take the long view. If you take care to train good people, you are investing in a relationship. People tend to stay when the relationships with their company are good. And if you become known as a company who trains, you’ll find it easier and easier to attract more good people.

Over to You

You can be wildly successful by finding good employees, hiring them–whether full-time employees, part-time help, or trades on a project–for the talents they do have, and helping them learn the rest.

Now it’s your turn. What’s one thing you can do to start using this hiring secret? Or, what might prevent you from trying it? Chime in!

Today’s photo courtesy of UggBoy.