How do You Motivate Employees?

I got a call yesterday from a contractor asking for my help with his business. He said he is a General Contractor, and then he proceeded to tell me the recent history of 26 years in business.

Mostly, what he related were his frustrations and problems with his employees, which have ranged from 35, down to 9 presently.  He relayed that he has tried everything to motivate them, and nothing has worked.  So I said I would meet with him to find out more about how he was running his business and managing his people.

When I met with him, what I discovered was about 40 percent of his daily activities that he considered his job, were responsibilities he should have been delegating.  The funny thing is, he didn’t need me to tell him that, but he finds his circumstances very frustrating and discouraging, and has been unable to successfully turn it around.

This is a very common situation that I see and hear about frequently. The joke is: Businesses rise to their own level of incompetence – and then the tired, battle weary owner decides to cut back to a more managerial level – maybe half as many crew, smaller projects, etc.  But what he takes with him is the defeat and maybe some resignation and bitterness towards his business.  It doesn’t have to be so hard. It’s not true that only the strong survive, but it is true that it helps to work smarter, rather than harder.