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How to Completely Change the Way Your Construction Company Does Performance Reviews

By: Steve Ball

Whether you like giving reviews or not, employee performance reviews are critical to your construction company’s success. After all, expecting your employees’ behavior to change without acknowledging the areas they must improve is a lot like expecting a job to finish itself — it’s not going to happen.

Despite this, having worked with many construction companies throughout my career, I’ve watched time and time again as contractors fail to give employees the feedback they need. 

This can lead to unintended consequences, like lost revenue due to habitual and avoidable mistakes, and the loss of all-star employees who are seeking to move up or challenge their skills. The truth is, employees, and especially younger generations, want and expect regular feedback. So, how can construction contractors give feedback in a constructive, meaningful way?

Review Every Major Job

Let’s say you have two people on your team — John and Bob. They both have similar skill and experience levels, and are good employees overall.

You start meeting with John on a regular basis to review his performance. During these discussions, you discuss which areas he could improve, areas he is doing well, and things you’d like to see from him upon completion of his next job in two months. On the other hand, you don’t have time to meet with Bob, and almost a year passes when you sit down with him to review his performance.

Who do you think is going to have made the most progress in a year – John, who you’ve sat down with several times in the past twelve months or Bob, who you’ve only met with once? Not much of a question, right?

The simple truth is that employees who receive timely feedback are better able to correct mistakes and improve over those who receive that same feedback a year down the road. After all, what good is feedback if it comes 12 months too late?

To avoid this, construction contractors should review an employee’s performance after every major job. This review can be brief, but it should provide an overall evaluation of the employee’s strengths and weaknesses on the job and where they are expected to do better on the next job.

These job-to-job evaluations will not only allow you to correct mistakes and issues sooner rather than later, but will give you an opportunity to identify and mentor the all-star employees who are looking to develop their skills throughout the year.

But I Don’t Have Time!

These days, your company is most likely firing all cylinders. Today’s recovering economy, paired with a growing backlog of work, probably means you and your employees are spending more time than ever in the field. This can mean routine tasks — like performance reviews — often take a backseat to jobs that pay the bills and may end up getting pushed off or forgotten all together.

This, however, can be a costly mistake.

We all struggle to find time to take care of important but seemingly non-essential tasks, but those “less important” tasks we push off often come around to haunt us.

Take for example, oil changes in your company truck. You depend on the vehicle to get you, your people and your tools from point A to point B, but when that check oil light goes on, you decide to push it an extra few miles. A few days become a few weeks and then the summer is gone by the time you get around to changing the oil. This process repeats for several years, until one day, your seemingly okay engine dies in the center of the beltway in morning rush hour. Now, you’ve got a dead engine, a half a day of lost work and a bill from your mechanic that would make even Bill Gates raise an eyebrow.

The same thing goes for performance reviews.

When you push off reviews, whether they are job-to-job or year-to-year, you get in a bad habit of thinking performance reviews aren’t really that important. And if all your employees are already operating perfectly 100% of the time and are content to stay exactly where they are in your company, you’re probably okay to forgo reviews. For the rest of the construction industry, putting off reviews is a lot like putting off those oil changes – it’s going to catch up with you eventually.

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Published September 28, 2017

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