As You See It: Why I'm a Raving Fan
from the editor: Remodelers drive the conversation in the "As You See It" series. This week: A remodeling staffer who can't say enough good things about her job and her bosses. See last week's hiring discussion here. Submit your story to leah@daily5Remodel.com.
If employee satisfaction is the third leg of the remodeling-success stool, as Judy Miller wrote here yesterday, then I understand why so many remodeling businesses (and so many small businesses in general) struggle.
I love working for small businesses, but I've never really felt that I had a future at one until I joined the staff of Curb Appeal Renovations, a Texas design/build firm, last October. I'm proud to support the work of my bosses, Robin Burrill and Rob Mathews, and I'm committed to making their company stronger.
Based on my experience at this and previous jobs, here are my 14 suggestions for turning mere "employees" into raving fans of your remodeling business. If this helps even one remodeling business, my effort is well worthwhile.
1. Offer Benefits
More than my starting salary, the thing I valued most in accepting this position was that it offered medical, dental and vision insurance, along with a long-term savings plan and other benefits. These benefits are difficult for many small companies, so Robin and Rob smartly manage it through a co-employment scenario with Insperity (formerly Administaff), which also carries our workmen’s comp.
Many co-employment companies like Administaff also take care of payroll and other HR issues at “big company” rates. Some remodelers in this economy may say they can’t afford to do this. In my opinion, how can you afford not to? If you want quality employees, find a way to offer us benefits.
2. Put Us on a Career Track
Provide every staff member with a clearly stated job description so that we'll all be on the same page as to what is expected daily, monthly, quarterly and yearly. Moreover, let us help to shape that job description. You may find that we're doing a lot more or less than you thought.
Over the long term, please know that it is critically important for us to feel welcomed in contributing ideas, being heard and evolving our roles into greater responsibility. If there appears to be little room for us to grow, it's hard to stay motivated. Give us regularly scheduled reviews, and set goals at each review.
3. Acknowledge and Invite
Acknowledge our ideas and suggestions, and ask for feedback on your own ideas. Regardless of whether you implement the ideas we present, we will will feel better -- and more encouraged to continue to contribute -- simply by knowing that you're listening.
4. Give Us Some Control
Be willing to give each employee full control over one or several things. This lets us know that you trust us to handle things and be a self starter. Even the smallest responsibility can help us feel like a crucial member of the team. (Note: Be sure we document the processes we handle, in the event that we're out or leave the company.)
5. Don’t Micromanage
Ugh. Please don't make us feel smothered and/or inadequate. I've seen cases where micromanaging bosses have even turned employees into liabilities rather than assets.
6. Give Unsolicited Positive Feedback
We don't need a ton of this, but the occasional atta-boy or atta-girl is a great thing. Don’t get so bogged down in your business that you overlook the seemingly mundane things that we handle on a daily basis to keep your jobs running smoothly.
7. Have Weekly Meetings ... with an Agenda
It can feel isolating to be an office employee who doesn't often get out to the field, where the "action" is. Tell us what's going on! Also use these meetings to let us know how the company is doing financially. Tell it like it is. Whether the news is good or bad, we almost always find it more scary not knowing!
I love being kept in the loop. It makes me feel more like a partner, not just an employee. It also means a great deal to me because I know this business is my bosses' "baby." They trust me to watch over it, and help it grow.
8. Deputize Us as Experts
Encourage employees to educate ourselves on the industry and/or particular products or projects. Encourage us to research what other remodeling companies are doing to be successful. Make us feel like we are your in house “expert.” Nudge us to take a webinar once or twice a week. Send us to meetings and conferences. Ask us to share with the team what we have learned.
9. Acknowledge Our Other Life
Ask about our families once in a while. Or even our hobbies and outside interests. A little concern and curiosity show that you care about us as a whole, and not just as a business asset or cost center. Besides, you never know who we know, or where your next lead may come from.
10. Build the Team
Find a way to “team build” at least once a quarter. Get to know your employees, and let them get to know you. Take the occasional Saturday morning to work at a local food bank or other charity. Show us that you care about the community and the environment. Treat us to something we might not do for ourselves -- maybe a manicure or massage for our birthday. A little goes a long way.
11. Don't Bad-Mouth
This refers to former employees, trade partners, clients, you name it. Just as you don't want to hear how horrible our last employer was, we don't want to hear how bad our predecessor was. It goes both ways. Keep all things positive.
12. Don't Assume We Can Read Your Mind
... Or between the lines, because we often cannot. Don't hide behind emails and text messages, which are devoid of emotion and can be very easily taken the wrong way. Human interaction is key! Never discount your voice over an email or text, even if you're delivering unhappy news.
13. Kick Us Out
Encourage us to get out and network from time to time. I'm the only full-time employee at our company, and I sometimes yearn to interact with my peers and others outside the office. One thing that helps is handling social media for the company. Other suggestions: Invite us to trade association meetings. Encourage us to take continuing education classes. Support our hobbies and outside interests.
14. Give Us Business Cards
Those old things? Yes! Even if you can't imagine an employee handing out one, business cards are a good idea for these two simple reasons: 1) They'll help us network with your next big lead, and 2) It feels good to have a business card. It says, “I am a part of this company. I have a role. My role is just as important as anyone else’s.”
Jaimee Mottwiler is the administrative assistant at Curb Appeal Renovations, in Keller, Texas.
6 Comments (Login to Add a Comment)
RemodCA1167 758 days ago
This is awesome!
DB-RemdNC1049 759 days ago
GREAT perspective! Definitely keeping this one in mind. Thanks for sharing. (Ironically, I ordered business cards this morning for a couple of part timers - before I read this article. :)
DB-RemdNJ1122 759 days ago
ProfServNJ1917 759 days ago
I have had the pleasure of working with Curb Appeal Renovations for many years...Jaimee is a pleasure to work with and is a huge asset to the company!!
Working with a class A company like Curb Appeal is a great experience and I share the passion Jaimee has for them!
Thanks Rob and Robin!!
Owner, Certified Lead Services
DB-RemdOH1757 759 days ago
Thank you for sharing your perspective.
You are a very special person and an obvious asset to the team.
Rob and Robin, Great find and may you all grow and prosper.
DB-RemdPA1061 759 days ago
Thank you Jamiee. I think we do pretty well in this area but in reading your article I did find a few areas where we need to improve. Part of the challenge is that most small business owners don't believe that their company is big enough to need to focus on employees. Wrong, if they would focus on keeping employees happy they just might grow
Dennis D. Gehman, CR, CLC, CKBR, CAPS, GAC
Gehman Custom Remodeling
355 Main Street
Harleysville, PA 19438