Sheet metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association

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Secrets to hiring and retaining good employees

Our industry is facing an unprecedented challenge in finding and retaining good employees. 

Every one of my contractor and distributor clients struggle with this and there are many factors contributing to it. The baby boomer generation had a mindset to find and stay with a company for a long time, even an entire career. Subsequent generations are not similarly inclined. 

Trade schools used to teach the trades that our industry needs and no longer do so. Other, more “glamourous” industries, such as technology and energy-related, have siphoned off many with high-paying jobs. So, with a limited potential resource for new, productive and loyal employees, what can be done? Here are some quick tips.

Hire for motivation

There is an old, time-tested formula for job performance that looks like: 

P = C x M x E 

P = Performance
C = Competence
M = Motivation
E = Environment

With this formula, when any factor is “zero,” then the result, performance, is zero. 

Environment represents your business as a place to work. This is within your control. 

Competence represents the person’s ability to learn the skills to be a top performer. It’s up to you to provide the training and coaching. 

Motivation is the most important factor. Motivation is the unknown factor that you must probe for when interviewing. All people are motivated, but some are motivated to be lazy while others are motivated to work hard. Find the person who is motivated to perform and you are more likely to have a long-term contributor.

Be clear about your expectations

Every employee deserves a current job description with detailed accountabilities so they know for certain what is expected from them. 

Measure performance and publish results

Many positions have performance criteria that can be measured, and the motivated individual likes seeing his or her name publicly posted in recognition for their achievement. Low achievers won’t like their results being posted and that should not deter you from recognizing, and rewarding, your best performers.

Catch them doing something right

Regular performance reviews are important and having them twice yearly is better than just once. In between reviews, the good manager will additionally be on the lookout for performance that exceeds the norm and make sure that individual receives appropriate recognition. 

Sometimes just a word of appreciation and a handshake will be all that it takes. I believe the primary reason people are dissatisfied with their job is because they don’t feel appreciated and valued. Let them know that they are doing a good job and they will continue to do so.

We all want to be part of something great

Your company’s leaders are responsible for creating a vision for the company’s success. They are also the cheerleaders who constantly reinforce the message along the way. 

Get your employees involved in something. Sponsor company events, volunteer for a good cause, support a fund-raiser…encourage employees, along with the managers, to see themselves as part of something that is making a difference, at work and within the community.

(Editor’s note: This article is by Tom Piscitelli, founder of TRUST® Training and Consulting. Tom has conducted sales seminars that have improved the performance of more than 8,000 HVAC sales professionals. 

He has more than 40 years’ experience in HVAC sales, sales management, marketing, and consulting. He has been published in trade magazines, speaks at industry events, has produced three HVAC sales training DVD programs, and enjoys bringing cutting-edge training approaches to the industry, www.sellingtrust.com.

He is also co-author of the book, “Proposition Selling: How to Create Extraordinary Success in Business-to-Business Sales,” www.propositionselling.com)