Good Leadership (For Tradies And Builders)

How to be a leader for Tradies (and Builders)

You may have heard me say this before but for a trade business (and a building business) part of growing and making more money is growing your team – having more people doing that work.

And part of having a team means you have to be a leader of that team. Without leadership, a team doesn’t perform very well – if you don’t invest in leading them, you’ll be disappointed.

So how do you lead? 

One aspect of leadership often discussed by leadership guru Simon Sinek is what I’m calling looking after them. If your team feels like you’ve got their backs, they’ll have yours.

That’s really what it boils down to. Check out this article I saw the other day about a leader who really showed this kind of leadership.

You can read the article if you click the link – This is a news.com.au quick summary. 

There’s a longer read here which covers the aftermath and some of the criticism the guy received.

Essentially this tech start-up in the US started off paying everyone as little as possible to save money and maximise profits. One day, one of his employees told him he was ripping him off by only paying him $35,000 a year – it wasn’t enough to live on.

The guy felt like a d*ck and decided to give everyone pay increases then, did some research, read that $70,000 is an important threshold in income, below it people are more unhappy, the less they make. And above are more unhappy – the less they make. And above it they don’t get much happier if they make more (they still want more but they don’t become much happier).

So he decided everyone in his business should have a minimum wage of $70,000 and he cut his salary from $1m a year to $100k a year to fund it.

You can imagine what the conservative commentators were like (can’t you?) frothing about how it was an example of how socialism was shit and it would fail.

It didn’t.

Business did really well – revenue and profit grew (revenue tripled). Staff retention is very high, better than that industry, employee engagement is high and more staff have houses and babies.

It’s a success story and definitely some of it is down to, not just this gesture or this action, but to the culture and leadership that birthed it.

He looked after them – did something to look after them and they looked after him and his business in return.

What should you do in your trade business? 

It’s easy to think ‘ it’s different over there or it’s different in a big business that can afford to pay everyone $70k.. That kind of response is understandable and common. But I’m going to ask you to think about what you can do to look after your people and make them feel looked after.

Recommended Reading: Teamwork And Leadership: Are You Doing It?

Paying everyone $70,000 a year might feel extreme and even impossible to a small trade business. I bet you couldn’t reduce your salary from $1m to $100,000 to fund it, could you? 

Me neither.

But maybe there are other ways to look after your people, less expensive ones maybe, more practical and realistic given you’re not a $150m tech start-up.

I’ll throw a few ideas out for your consideration. 

(In my coaching program we plan how you’re going to be a good leader, in a manageable way – it includes sharing the joy. If you think coaching might help you grow your business or you want to find out more, book a 10-minute chat with me or book yourself on a Tools Down Workshop).

Write those ideas – and remember you’ve got to mean it and your people need to know about it or your loveliness is wasted.

So some ideas about how to care for your people and show it.

1. Safety – building sites and power tools are dangerous, pay attention to keeping your people safe. This is easy, but also easy to neglect. The rules are clear – you probably have them written. Do your safety properly and build a culture of keeping them safe.

2. Pay them properly – you don’t need to go to $70k minimum but think about how you pay compared to the award (the minimum), how people’s pay grows, how they get paid more as they get better (you can have levels people progress to).

3. Think about and communicate how you deal with people’s crises – because they have them. What will you do when someone separates from their partner and is useless for 3 months? Or gets sick for longer than they have sick leave? This bit is about attitude and that was 2 examples but it’s worth thinking and saying and being clear what your position is or how you want to be.

That’ll do for starters. If you think of other ways to care for them and you want to  share, drop them in the comment or email me at jon@www.smallfish.com.au.  If there are few, I’ll make another video.

There are four ways you can engage with me:

1. Subscribe to these emails and get them once a week in your inbox so you never miss a video from me.

2. Join the Trades Business Toolshed Facebook Group where you can watch these videos, ask me questions or talk to your peers.

3. Attend my next Tools Down workshop.

4. Book yourself a 10-minute chat with me. We’ll talk about whether coaching is right for you now and if it is, we’ll go further into the process before you have to make your mind up.

See you later.

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10-minute chat with Jon.