Culture, Management & Leadership Styles

Someone told me a long time again that if you want to understand what a company is about, look at who’s at the top. If you like what you see there, you’ll probably like what you see throughout the company.  Look at the top and you’ll see a reflection at the bottom. Most successful companies have an established positive culture that attracts and keeps good people. The leadership strives to hire managers and employees that fit within their culture and responds to their leadership styles. If there’s longevity with employment, their employees and subcontractors seem satisfied and not looking to jump ship, and there’s an atmosphere of good attitudes; you’re seeing a sampling of good management and culture. Whereas, if you’re seeing the opposite, you know the company has problems, and it likely starts at the top. 

If we as deck builders and remodelers are not large corporations, why does this matter to us? It matters because the type of leadership you provide works the same way and yields the same results. It matters because finding and retaining employees and subcontractors in today’s building market is difficult.  It matters because the investment you make in training is a waste if that person moves on because of the culture you created. 

Ask yourself these questions

  1. What kind of leadership do you respond to? 
  2. What motivates and creates loyalty for you if you’re working for someone? 
  3. What causes you to start looking for a job somewhere else? 
  4. How do you lead, inspire, and motivate your people? 
  5. Do you use fear as a driver or create a culture of positive motivation? 
  6. Would you want to work for you? 
  7. Do you act like a boss or leader? 

Whether you’re large or small, “culture” is the key. The success and culture for any size company is created through good leadership, coaching, and a stable work environment. It’s rarely created by a boss mentality or fear as the driver.

A good leader knows how to motivate and inspire their people. They are competent individuals who understand how to assess personalities, attitudes, and potential. They know how to develop and refine an individual’s skills for a particular position and help them grow. They understand that each person is different and the approach to each varies, and that a “one size fits all” approach doesn’t work. They know how to be demanding and push performance while being practical, fair, and reasonable. They know how to be firm and when and where to apply it. They know how to coach someone to be the best they can be without breaking their spirit or cross over the line of no return. They know how to observe and listen to others. They also know how to manage their own emotions and keep it professional and not personal. They weigh their words before they type or say them. Most don’t embarrass people and, where possible, lead by example. They don’t view people as numbers. They view them as important assets and maintain a balance of professional and personal relationships with those in which they are in contact. They understand respect is a two-way street. They cultivate and mentor future leaders. This doesn’t mean that they’re not demanding or holding people accountable. They need to maintain these aspects. They also need to know when to turn to the page of confrontation that they use as a last resort to correct a situation or behavior – understanding that this action will reset a direction, correction, or end a relationship. 

Some utilize a boss mentality with fear being used as the driver. If it’s a “Boss & Fear” program, it better involve a lot of money, otherwise the best people will move on once they’re in a position to do so. Most bosses either lack the quality of assessment and understanding or don’t care about an individual’s makeup and offer the same bossing style to all involved. A boss is prone to flex their muscles and authority as they may yell, bark, scold, or insult, and view their people as nothing more than cogs in a wheel. They often have the “take it or leave it” or “my way or the highway” mindset in that those under them must tolerate certain behaviors or they can quit. They expect everyone to adjust and comply to them. In extreme cases the difference in bossing staff and bullying staff is indistinguishable. They talk to subordinates that can only be gotten away with because they are the boss. They’re likely not receptive to listening to ideas or feedback and not consistent with treating people like most want to be treated. Some would argue that bossing and tough coaching yields results.  It can to an extent and there will always be a certain amount of tough love leadership, but in the long run this style will push quality people out and result in high staff turnover rates. 

Retaining people requires that you provide a balance of financial benefits, respect,  fair treatment, and creating the right culture. I recall a quote once that stated that we as employers should treat our employees like we treat our best customers. There’s a truth to this. If your employees or subcontractors don’t respond to positive leadership then its time to search for those that will. Being in business is tough enough without conflicts and friction within your own team or dealing with constant employee or subcontractor turnover. In today’s environment, not taking the proper leadership approach will assure instability with your labor force and your business longevity. 

How you lead determines your success in not only hiring but also retaining your hires. We cannot make people wealthy, but we can provide a good work environment and culture regardless of the company size. It is possible to create loyalty and motivation with employees and subcontractors that provides for a long-term productive relationship. Know yourself, don’t overreact, and weigh your words with wisdom when serious conversations occur. And make sure they occur in private. Don’t flex your muscles or embarrass people in front of others. Most can take the truth if it’s done the right way where they won’t if they’re being shown up. Be careful who you bring on as managers, superintendents, sales managers, and construction managers. Afterall, you’re not looking for a boss; you’re looking for a leader. Be sure they help you shape and maintain the right culture by providing the right leadership. .

Bobby Parks / Instagram: @Bobbyparks007

Copyright June, 2021 – Bobby Parks