Managing Growing Teams

Words: Kent Bounds

Words and Photos: Kent Bounds, President at Brazos Masonry

As a young owner/president of Brazos Masonry, managing people is one of the most difficult tasks. In a sense, masonry is easy. Being raised in the industry, I have seen and experienced many different situations. So, when it comes to solving masonry-related challenges, I take it with great excitement because I know a solution is obtainable. Being a leader and managing a group of individuals is a challenge that will leave you stressed, full of anxiety, sleepless, and in the end, without any good solutions. Manpower is a challenge we face every day, from the field to the office. First and foremost, I am not an expert. I know without a doubt there are many others who would have been much more qualified to speak on this matter. But with that being said, I will share my thoughts, philosophy, failures, and successes when managing a growing team.

To be successful, you first need to figure out how to incorporate what made you and the business successful into your new team. My last article revolved around company culture. That is a big first step: how to channel your company culture. By having current and new employees understand what your company’s culture is, it will create cohesive teamwork that’s sustainable as the team grows. When we hire new employees, we talk to the candidates about their interests, passion, and what motivates them. We want them to have the raw ingredients that will mesh with our team. We at Brazos Masonry will incorporate questions revolving around our company culture during the interview process. We watch their reaction and listen to their responses. By investing the time and resources on the front, it makes it easier to be confident in the new employees fitting easily into our culture. Once we hire an individual, we cover our mission, vision, core values, and a personalized introduction to everyone in the office. Our current team does a great job of accepting everyone with open arms, knowing that this individual is here to raise the bar and make us better. There have been cases where we have identified a shortcoming in a skillset during the interview process. Part of our mission statement at BMI is “We elevate our people .” In our culture, we invest in their education and learning. We pick up the cost for online or in-person training to help them be more successful. It is having that consistency in attitude and communication to make any new member feel wholly part of your team.


The next step is to always keep a constant line of communication open. New members will struggle. They are trying to absorb all this new information at a furious rate in hopes of quickly being a productive member of the team. We have seen many new employees fail because they felt like they could not ask questions. They didn’t want to look incompetent or perhaps even a bad hire if they could not do their job correctly. We have a very open-door policy at our company. We encourage all to ask. As managers, we always use this time as teaching moments and as steppingstones to avoid larger mistakes down the road. We have an unofficial mentoring program. We always stick a new employee with a seasoned employee who will show them the ropes of their new job. We give adequate time for training yet still push them to jump in quickly. We want the employee to push themselves without feeling the pressure of being rushed. Communication is really the key. Keeping an open and constant dialog between the new employee, their mentor, and yourself will help elevate everyone’s game and a sense of belonging to the new employee.

To follow that step up, we must never forget to praise even the smallest of victories. The happiest and typically the hardest working employees are those who feel appreciated for their efforts. When your office or jobsite is small, it is easy to give praise to your people for their good work. As your team grows, the demands of work increase, the fires of business grow, and you begin to find your time-limited. What suffers is your ability to see and remember the need of personal recognition. At all costs, this must be avoided. Not only for new employees but your current ones. Don’t ever take the mindset, “They are still employed, so they must know their performance is acceptable.” Don’t ever have that thought. Instead, create acts of recognition. Create sales meeting goals, safety awards, send out complementing e-mails about your PM or Field Team to the entire company, or even better, give an individual praise during a meeting with others present. We, as owner, started several years ago Safety and Field Appreciation Lunches for our field crews. We personally (as ownership and managers) go out to the jobsites every other week to cook food, hand out gifts, and shake everyone’s hand, telling them thank you. We speak to the group and let the team know how well they are doing and how much work we have coming down the pipeline. Does this take time? Yes, it does, but we want everyone to feel appreciated, no matter if they are in the field or in the office. We want team members old and new to feel that they belong and are truly appreciated for their daily efforts. However, your company chooses to recognize and reward, make sure you can follow through and be consistent.

The last step, and perhaps the most difficult for me, is to embrace the change. I like things to be constant. I really appreciate having the confidence of knowing when I wake up each morning, everyone will be there faithfully performing their jobs. As we recently experienced in the office, we lost two estimators in a very short manner. So it goes without saying, when bringing new team members on, it is important to focus on the positives. If the leader is down and dejected, how else do you think the old and new employees will respond. We are not saying there won’t be any challenges and concerns with change. This goes back to communication, so be sure to talk to your people about the changes, the challenges, and the opportunities. Let the team know who is being brought on and what skills these new team members bring to the table. Meet with the mentor about any challenges they may be faced with as they start. Make sure you reinforce to the entire team the company’s overall strategic vision. This will help them understand the decision to bring in new members to help obtain our goals. Ask for questions or concerns, and be sure to address them. I cannot say enough about the importance of transparency. In short, transparency goes a long way toward reassurance. Remember the end goal, everyone, including yourself, needs to accept change. How else can we do this if we are not all on the same level, pushing together, pulling together, and working towards that common goal? 

In conclusion, growth means all of your hard work is paying off! Growth- it’s what every successful business strives to achieve year on year. Inevitably, as our businesses grow, so will our team. A growing team can bring new and exciting opportunities for a business. New team members can help push a business in the right direction and inject energy into an established team if handled correctly. Growing your team means change, and as mentioned, change is tough. Change requires effective and proactive leadership and management in all areas. Leading by example is the key to the puzzle. Lead with confidence. Involve your team (both old and new), communicate, listen, and never forget to give them praise for a job well done. With these items, I am confident everyone will come out stronger on the other side.

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