Build A Winning Team

Words: George Hedley

Words: George Hedley
Photo: Hispanolistic

Are you focused on building a winning team to handle the workload of a growing company? What are you doing about building and developing a winning team and future leaders? Do overlook your own people when a management position is needed and hire from outside your company. Or, do you have a promotion from within the training program to choose from your up and coming potential managers and supervisors?

Professional coaches live and die based on their win - loss records which are based on their game plan strategy and talent’s ability to perform. If their players are not the best available, weak, untrained, undisciplined, or have the wrong attitudes, they generally lose. When teams play together, with positive attitudes, and work as a team, they can win against more talented opponents on a regular basis. Winning coaches focus on talent development in order to have a strong bench and the ability to improve their overall record. Winning teams require winning coaches who motivate, inspire, hold people accountable, encourage players to perform at higher levels, and are continually upgrading and improving their strategy and player roster.

Who’s on your bench ready to perform?

Whenever I ask my business coaching clients if they have anyone in their construction companies who could potentially move up from a field crew member to crew foreman, the first reaction is generally “no!” And when I ask if any of their field foremen or superintendents have the potential to become an estimator or project manager, the typical answer again is “no!” Many also tell me that out of their team of four or five full-charge project managers, none of them have the potential to become vice president of operations. What is the problem? Why can’t construction company presidents and managers see the potential in their own people? How can they build a winning team without mentoring, training, working with and developing their managers and leaders to build a strong evolving team to handle a growing company?

Bosses tend to see their employees where they are and not what they can become or grow into. Most all of my clients have several dozen or more long-term field employees who do a great job on a regular basis. You can’t tell me out of four or five managers, or twenty to sixty field workers, not one of them have the potential to move up to the next level, want to grow and learn, or are willing to accept more responsibility (and make more money!). I have also observed in several companies where crew foremen actually protect their role, responsibility, control and territory by discouraging their employees from doing more or taking on additional accountability. It seems as they don’t want people to take their jobs and move them out if work gets slow.

A few years ago, I presented at a large electrical contractor’s quarterly estimating meeting. The meeting consisted of ten estimators, each from one of their regional offices in six states. I asked what their backgrounds were. Eight of these estimators started out in the field as an apprentice, got promoted from there to journeyman, and then to foreman. And then eventually the company asked if they wanted to come into the office as an assistant estimator. Now, they are all full-charge commercial electrical contractor estimators each bidding and pricing over $25 million worth of jobs yearly. Who says field workers don’t have potential to become leaders? All it takes is a company culture of training and promotion from within.

Your future leaders already work for you!

On the other side of the coin, a few of my clients work hard to build and develop future leaders. They have designed step by step companywide talent development programs to encourage their current leaders, foreman, supervisors and managers to train and promote people who work for them to advance to the next level. They maintain a ‘promotion from within’ culture that doesn’t allow for foremen, superintendents or managers to discourage their people from wanting to become crew or team leaders. An example of a successful promotion from within culture is a large and successful civil contractor client in the northwest USA. They developed a promotion and training ladder for employees to clearly follow and know what it takes to move up from crew worker, to crew leader, to foreman and then supervisor. 

The program includes ongoing regular training for field crew employees to move from general labor, to pipe installer, to perform layout, to operating equipment, to ordering material, to reviewing job cost labor reports, to becoming foreman and then full-charge supervisor. Their step by step training ladder plan is formalized and written with detailed job descriptions and training modules for each step along the way. Also required are classroom training sessions led by a senior manager every month. At each level, there are tests and reviews to see if participants are ready to move up to the next level. In addition, each advancement receives a standard pay raise along with the added responsibility. This training people and promotion system has generated an ongoing supply of crew members wanting to improve and a wait list of new people seeking employment at this contractor. 

Invest in people to get a return on investment! 

Another great example of investing in people: I had the opportunity to work with a premier commercial general contractor recently with well over 100 employees in the Midwest USA. This company has become the leader in their market because of the two owners’ visionary leadership, integrity, professionalism, insistence on expert craftsmanship, promoting the highest safety standards, and focusing on building a great place to work that attracts and retains the best people. Their success is founded on developing a winning team of estimators, project managers, superintendents, and foremen to be effective leaders and managers. These players are tasked with taking full ownership and responsibility to manage projects as professionals, achieve on-time on-budget results, and exceed their customer’s needs. In addition, they have a large group of crew leaders, journeymen and apprentices who are excited and energetic about building great projects, do what’s right, and do what they say they’ll do.

Their business vision is to help employees become the best they can be and not restrict or hold anyone back from growing or accepting more responsibility. They have committed to invest in people as stated in their company vision statement: “Develop well trained and productive team players in a rewarding work environment. Create a safe atmosphere where employees thrive personally and professionally with honesty and integrity.”

To accomplish their vision, they hold several half day and full day training sessions on a regular basis. These include all team building, participative, open interactive training, educational and informational workshops and meetings. They bring in outside consultants and professional experts as well as their managers to present on a variety of topics. Topics include equipment, technology, safety, best practices, construction methods, leadership, management, supervision, documentation and scheduling. They also invest dedicated regular time to work with and mentor potential leaders to build a culture of excellence and promotion from within. For three days I worked closely with their senior leadership team, accounting staff, project managers, field supervisors, foremen and field crews. During each session, the multiple topics always included sessions on how to become winning coaches and team leaders, better managers, and inspirational results-driven supervisors. 

Another contractor I know encourages a culture of teaching and training subordinates. As part of the employee review process, they weigh potential supervisors and manager pay raises and bonuses available by their personal dedication and commitment they perform mentoring and training employees they supervise. As encouragement to participate in this program, they offer attendance at state and national conferences like the World Of Concrete or International Roofing Exposition where educational programs, workshops and peer sessions are available. When people see how other managers and leaders perform, it inspires them to also grow and improve themselves, and those who work for them.

Invest in people to achieve better results! 

As a construction industry presenter and business coach for over 20 plus years, I see who makes the most money and builds the best companies. Guess what? In every case, companies who really invest in their people, always make more money, win better contracts, and have less trouble finding and keeping great people. To help you build a winning team, email to get a copy of George’s People Workbook - Hire Recruit Manage Develop & Retain Talent. A small investment in training, mentoring, teaching, developing your people, and building a winning team pays off. For only one hour per week per employee only costs 2.5% of your total employee expense. This is nothing compared to the return on investment potential available to you. So, the challenging question for you is “What are you doing about building a winning team by developing your future leaders, supervisors, and managers?



George Hedley CSP CPBC is a certified professional construction BIZCOACH and popular industry speaker. He helps contractors grow, make more profit, build management teams, improve field production, and get their businesses to work for them.  He is the best-selling author of “Get Your Construction Business To Always Make A Profit!” available on 

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