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How does a business leader in commercial and industrial construction implement inspiration in the team? There are thousands of books on leadership theory and organizational culture, but if a leader does not understand how to practically implement those theories, they will not benefit the team. There are several ways to cultivate an inspired team. Following are five ideas for construction executives to implement with field-based, office-based and remote-based teams.

1. Employee-Focused Programs

There are a variety of ways to motivate employees and Patricia Milne offers an overview of techniques in Motivation, Incentives and Organizational Culture. As a leader, it’s important to understand the value in offering followers reward programs and recognition programs. Keep in mind that reward programs deal with financial incentives while recognition programs deal with appreciation incentives. There really is value in having an Employee of the Month, highlighting top performers, and sending out employee newsletters celebrating successes and wins based on the hard work of the team. Follow these steps when creating employee-focused programs:

  • Evaluate each department within your construction company and identify how the management team can implement both reward and recognition programs to build motivation within the entire team.
  • Develop both reward and recognition programs for group incentives to further create a collaborative organizational culture for teams.
  • Host annual events for the whole team whether it is a team building activity or company event.
2. Intentional Leadership Connectivity

In Leadership Connectivity: A Leading Indicator for Organizational Culture Change, Philip Hurst and Tamara Hurst discuss the concept of leadership connectivity. This type of intentionality focuses the leader on the follower instead of the task. By relating to the followers, organizations may see greater engagement, perseverance and performance. This will look different for team members, as some are field-based, some are office-based and some are remote-based. Understand that specific methods used by construction executives to build the connectivity will differ—and that is okay. Some key practices for a leader aiming to be intentionally connected with the organization include the following.

  • Listen and engage the management team and key followers at each level within the organization.
  • Understand what motivates individuals, teams and departments within the company.
  • Work with followers to identify current threats and barriers within the organization.
  • Encourage curiosity and idea generation within the organization to inspire team interactions.
3. Spirit of Professional DevelopmenT

To cultivate this motivated organizational culture, a leader in the construction environment benefits from building talent and managing talent in the organization. In her book Multipliers, Liz Wiseman makes a distinction between Empire Builders who bring in talent to the organization and then underutilize that talent from Talent Magnets who attract talent because they work to develop others. It’s important to encourage continuing development and skill expansion with team members. Attempt to avoid stagnation by actually using the talent of team members. In this regard, construction executives benefit from the following actions.

  • Get creative when seeking all types of talent and look beyond traditional methods.
  • Understand what leading talents current followers hold and allow followers to develop those further.
  • Recognize everyone on the team and network followers together who may not be aware of common strengths.
  • Remove the negativity that may be hindering the team from developing and attracting talent.
4. Supportive Team Development

In his book Leadership: Theory and Practice, Peter Northouse, writes that a leader in an organization who emphasizes team development sees benefits of internal support, collaboration, problem-solving and shared decision making. This team model foundationally starts with the leader having a mental model that considers how context, resources, constraints, team members and organizational systems will interact and be impacted by this team mindset. Then, leaders must actively convey this mentality to other followers. Team development impacts organizational culture as followers work together to achieve team effectiveness through the performance of assigned tasks and development of cohesiveness and quality.  As a leader looking to promote internal teams, consider the following.

  • Structure the organization for team-driven results.
  • Conduct interpersonal training, effective decision-making training and team dynamics training to further develop the skills of the organization.
  • Encourage professional coaching for followers on an individual basis.
  • Model ethical behavior within leadership circles for followers to immolate.
  • Focus the goals of the organization so that teams know what to work toward.
5. Meaningful Relationships

Meaningful relationships really do impact the business leader. Deborah Anderson speaks to this concept in the article, Is Building Relationships the Key to Leadership. Relationships are founded on honesty and trust but require more than that. Relationships require co-ownership, meaning that both parties must be invested and view the interactions as valuable from both perspectives. Construction executives must be approachable to team members and personify their interest in building these relationships. Further, these relationships involve data and feelings—data relates to the information exchanged while feelings relate to the emotions exchanged. Here a construction leader understands that followers too must be involved—a dual relationship. It is critical to build a relationship that has personal and professional elements, demonstrating a leader’s interest in the life of the team member. Ways that construction executives can build meaningful relationships with team members include the following.

  • Buy the team lunch.
  • Meet with individuals and teams to understand daily professional struggles and work to find solutions.
  • Invite folks and their significant others to dinner to build community.
  • Arrange for a team outing on a Friday afternoon to take everyone out of the usual context to enjoy time together.

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