Clear as Mud

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In a time of tightened company belts and increasing client demands, how do you get the greatest amount of high-quality work from your employees and still keep them happy?

August 01, 2001


Kim Sweet

In a time of tightened company belts and increasing client demands, how do you get the greatest amount of high-quality work from your employees and still keep them happy?

To aid us in the continual effort to find the best answer to that question, managers in the Cahners Residential Group — to which Professional Remodeler belongs — recently spent a few hours talking about social styles. Explored by industrial psychologists Robert and Dorothy Grover Bolton in their book Social Style/Management Style, the concept divides people into four main personality and communication types: drivers, expressives, analyticals and amiables.

Here’s the (very) short version: Drivers want results, and they want them now. Expressives have a lot to say and no problem sharing it. Analyticals value the facts and consider both sides of the equation. Amiables are the people persons who make the work environment pleasant. We all have qualities from each category, but usually they cluster most heavily in just one category.

The lesson to be learned? All four types are valuable, and the most important thing a manager can do for employee relations is develop the versatility to communicate with each employee in the way best suited to that individual.

Sounds like a lot of work, I know. But unless you want your business to be a one-person show, you need to build a team. When you consider that many of us often spend more time with our colleagues than with our families, it makes sense that we invest considerable effort in our professional relationships as well as our personal ones.

And if this is getting too touchy-feely for you, keep in mind that good communications are good for the bottom line. How many times has a subcontractor misinterpreted your direction, resulting in a job’s needing to be redone? Or a client thought you promised something you only meant to suggest, forcing you to absorb the additional cost to maintain goodwill? Maybe you underestimated a bid because the salesperson left out a key bit of information.

It’s tempting to blame the sub or the client or the salesperson, but good managers go out of their way to provide clear direction, to make sure genuine agreement is reached and to ask the right questions. That’s why, starting with the September issue of Professional Remodeler, we’ll be running a three-part series on construction communications by Bill Asdal, CGR, of Asdal & Co. Builders.

In the meantime, I suggest you turn to this month’s Blueprint for Success on production systems, written by contributing editor Stan Ehrlich. At Professional Remodeler, we have an established work flow, a schedule, shared terminology, regular meetings and a final check-off — all of which serve to improve our internal communication. Stan’s article provided me with several great ideas on ways to enhance our production systems. I hope it does the same for your company.

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