Team Building: Four Personalities Essential to Construction Companies

dreamstime_xl_47303660Successful management of a construction company and the individual projects it undertakes require a team effort. And that team must include four distinct personalities. Each of us has within us only one or two of the four personality types. If you have a small company, you may be attempting to do all the things that all four personality types do naturally. Not only can this be frustrating, but it can prevent you from running your company as smoothly and profitably as possible.

Each of the following personality types play an important role in every company, from planning the job to seeing it through to completion: the idea person, the happening person, the managing person and the maintenance person. As you read this, ask yourself which of the personality type(s) you have and which personality types you need to employ that are diametrically opposed to your type.

 The Idea Person

One very important personality type is the “idea person.” An idea person may be an architect, interior designer, computer programmer or artistic person. You can always tell an idea person because he or she will often react to a situation by saying, “I have an idea.” Most ideas are impractical or ill-advised, though a few are probably worth pursuing. Every team and every project needs an idea person to keep the company on the cutting edge, so the company can be profitable and successful.

I have been working with the third generation of a family-owned company that the grandfather started in 1908. His grandchildren have his original truck and loader restored and parked in the yard. They say to me, “We are still doing things like our granddaddy did them.”

I say, “I know. I can smell it. It smells like formaldehyde or mothballs around here.”

The people in this company have not had a new idea in 30 years. They are so far from the cutting edge that their company prospects are as dull as a butter knife. Keeping up with changes in the industry requires a diverse group of individuals who bring fresh ideas, make things happen, manage the details and do the work.

Allow me to present this scenario:  I have 20 acres, and I’m going to build a brand-new hotel and convention complex. Who is the first person I call? I call the architect. He comes out to my 20 acres and says, “I have an idea. Let’s build a hotel that looks like a giant escargot.”

I say, “That’s a good idea; draw it up.” Every company and project needs an idea person like the architect in order to keep the company current and profitable.

 The Happening Person

Another important personality type is the “happening person.” Happening people are contractors. They like to take someone else’s ideas and create something from them. Where there is nothing, they want to see something, created by the force of will — and at their direction. They are focused and driven and are not satisfied until they have made something happen.

Returning to our scenario, I have 20 acres, and I’m going to build a brand-new hotel and convention complex. Who is the first person I call? I call the architect. He comes out and says, “I have an idea. Let’s build a hotel that looks like a giant escargot.” He draws it up and I put the job out to bid. I receive three bids and award the job to a contractor.

The contractor calls in the surveyors, the bulldozers, the concrete people, the steel erection people, the glazing people, the roofers, carpenters, plumbers, mechanical people, electricians, pavers, painters, carpet layers and landscapers. They make that hotel happen. Why? Because the contractor is a happening person.

Every company and every project needs happening people. Have you ever been to a meeting where everybody has ideas? And after everyone has shared their ideas, you leave that meeting knowing that not one of those ideas is going to change anything. Do you know why? Because there were no happening people at the meeting who will go through those ideas, select one and be focused and driven enough to make that idea happen and see it working.

The Manager

I call the third personality type the “managing person.” Managing people tend to coach the teams. Behind the white line of every football field stands a head coach. He has hired an offensive coordinator, a line coach, a backfield coach and a defensive backfield coach. They are all managing people. They don’t go out on the field and take a snap, run the ball, pass the ball, catch the ball, block anyone or tackle anyone. They manage all the details of what happens on the field. They make sure the team is in the right city with the right uniforms at the right time. When it is time to kick-off or receive, they make sure the right number of players are on the field. When it is fourth down with a yard to go, managing people decide if the team should punt, go for a field goal or go for the touchdown.

I have 20 acres, and I am going to build a hotel and convention complex. Who is the first person I call? The architect. He comes out and says, “I have an idea. Let’s build a hotel that looks like a giant escargot.” He draws it up, and I put it out to bid. I award it to a contractor who makes that hotel happen. Then they give me the keys. Now who do I need? I need a hotel manager who will hire an assistant manager, a manager of guest services, a food service manager, a housekeeping manager and a catering manager. The managers understand the details of what goes on in the areas they manage. They assure that all the details of their departments are tended to. They make sure that guests get checked in, that the rooms are clean, complete with the little shampoos and other toiletries. They make sure meetings are set up and food is prepared.

Every company and every project needs managing people. They make sure the payables are paid, the receivables received, payroll is made, materials are ordered, paperwork is done and work is bid.

The Maintenance Person

The fourth personality is the “maintenance person.” More than 70 percent of the American workforce is composed of maintenance people. You can always tell a maintenance person because they will always come to you and ask what people they should take on a job, what tools they should take, what truck they should take, etc. They want you to tell them exactly how to do the job, and the effective ones will do it as instructed.

I have 20 acres, and I am going to build a hotel and convention center. Who is the first person I call? The architect. He comes out and says, “I have an idea. Let’s build a hotel that looks like a giant escargot.” He draws it up. I put it out to bid and award it to a contractor. They make the hotel happen. They give me the keys and I hire a manager who hires other managers, as well as 200 maintenance people. The maintenance people come to work every day and ask what they are supposed to do, what rooms they are to clean, what food they should prepare and how to set up each meeting room. Every company needs maintenance people who will get the work done. They are the ones who are really building America, and they are the engine of American business.

So Who Are You?

Do you know which personality category you fall into? It is an important question to consider because as owner or high-level manager of a construction business, you need to surround yourself with people who are different from you and who are strong in areas where you are not. If you are an idea person and a happening person, who in your company will manage and maintain your ideas and make them happen? If you are a managing and maintenance person, who in your company is going to bring ideas to you that will keep your company innovative and profitable? Who will assure those ideas happen in internal operations and out in the field? If you can build yourself a strong and complete team by including all four of these personalities in your business, your company will run more efficiently and its long-term success and profitability will improve.

Charles Vander Kooi is President of Vander Kooi and Associates. For more information, visit www.vanderkooi.com.

This article was reprinted with the express permission of the NUCA Business Journal, which is published exclusively for NUCA members.

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