Contractor Tip Of The Month: Policies For Maintaining Harmony At Your Workplace

Words: Damian Lang

Damian Lang

I have received tremendous feedback from an article I wrote a few years ago about my corporate policies, so I decided to provide an update for my readers.  It may seem odd to some people, but my wife and I have developed some strategies that help maintain harmony in our relationship and reduce our stress. A few examples: 
  • When we are having a drink, I always set mine on the right side, so I know it is the right one when I pick it up. When in the car, I always put my drink in the front cupholder as my arms are longer. 
  • If we are out and get separated, we always go back to the last place we saw each other and wait there until we are reunited.
  • We always use the remote key fob when locking the door of any vehicle. With the key fob in your hand, you will never lock yourself out.
I cannot count the times that our “rules to live by” have saved us from unnecessary strife. Over the years, I have found it valuable to adopt similar strategies at the office because, let’s face it, both marriage and business have similar demands. You are spending a significant part of your day together with others and you must figure out a way to get along. At work, my policies are simple, but invaluable. Here are some examples:
  • No friction in the hallways.
  • No a**holes allowed.
  • The first sleepless night is on me; the second night is on you.
  • Hire for attitude; everything else can be learned.
If you ever get a chance to tour our operations at Watertown Enterprises, you will see and feel a culture of harmony among the staff with people who love their jobs. I credit a large part of this to the above policies. Here is how they work: No friction in the hallways: As a leader, my predominate role is that of a thermostat that regulates attitudes and working conditions. I set the desired temperature of the team and work to maintain it within a given range.  If I expect my office to be friction-free, I know I must lead by example. Therefore, I am the first to recognize that if someone is stressed at the company, it usually starts with the person at the top. Yes, that is on me. Because my primary responsibility is that of a thermostat, it is my job to regulate my own tone/temperature first. Therefore, even when I am under tremendous stress or going through a difficult time, I cannot let it show.  After I work on my own temperament, I maintain a pulse on the morale, productivity, and stress levels of the team. If there is friction among the employees or increased turnover for no apparent reason, it is usually because the department head is stressed, or does not have the right disposition to effectively manage his or her team.  I have managed people for long enough that when I walk by someone, I can sense if they are in a good or bad mood simply by reading their body language. In some cases, I can feel their tension, even when they are walking behind me in the hallway.  My no friction in the hallways policy means if I sense tension between team members, I will immediately address the situation. So, it is best to stay stress-free if you want to remain on our team.  No a**holes allowed: There is an old saying that if you do not remove a spoiled potato from the basket, it will spoil the whole bushel. If you have an a**hole on your team, this person will spoil the whole team.  It is impossible to be part of a team if you have issues that prevent you from getting along with others. At Watertown Enterprises, if you have even a little pinch of a**hole in you, you will receive training on how to identify, address and solve your personal issues so they do not interfere with your work. The policy is simple: Either the person learns to get results while working in harmony with co-workers, or we remove the a**hole from our team.  The first sleepless night is on me; the second night is on you: Little problems, if not addressed immediately, can become big issues. If I lie awake at night bothered by something that someone is doing, it will be the last night I lose sleep over that issue. That is because it is my policy to go straight to the source the next morning, address the issue, and get it resolved. After that conversation, if it happens again, we will have a much deeper follow-up conversation, and it is their turn to lose a night’s sleep.  Hire for attitude; everything else can be learned. When it comes down to it, if I must choose between aptitude and attitude, I go with attitude every time. If you have someone doing an outstanding job and getting spectacular results, study the person’s behavior and you will find that person has a great attitude. I am convinced that while I can teach team members the skills they need to do the job well, I have little influence on the perspective someone holds on life. Good attitude, good results. Bad attitude, bad results. From the outside, some people may think my policies are harsh, but those within our corporate culture would be quick to disagree. These policies are in place to keep our team happy, and a happy team is one of a company’s greatest assets.  When I hear people complain they are having trouble finding employees, my first thought is, “I wonder if their current employees are happy?” Happy employees tend to stay with your company long-term. Low turn-over rates result in tremendous cost savings.  When you have happy employees, recruiting is less expensive as well. How, you ask? When your employees like where they work, they tend to spread the word. When they are out with friends and family at a church, school, or social functions, the topic of work often arises and their praises encourage those they associate with to want a position at your company, too. In closing, I encourage you to consider how my four work policies could benefit your business. When you get home, have a drink (always on the right side) and do whatever it takes to keep your spouse happy, too! Then retire for the night and rest easy. Sleep with peace of mind, knowing you have some new strategies to maintain harmony among team members at your workplace.  Damian Lang is CEO at Lang Masonry Contractors, Wolf Creek Construction, Buckeye Construction and Restoration, 3 PLS Labor Services, Malta Dynamics Fall Protection and Safety Company, and EZG Manufacturing. To view the products and equipment his companies created to make jobsites safer and more efficient, visit his websites at or To receive his free e-newsletters or to speak with Damian on his management systems or products, email, or call 740-749-3512.
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