BOCA RATON, FL — Listening to Ted Garrison is painful. Garrison, the owner of Garrison Associates, a consulting firm based in Ormond, FL, is painfully blunt, painfully honest, and … well … is not afraid to speak the painful truth. He is a “tell-it-like-it-is” professional.
Garrison certainly did not mess around in his information-overload presentation at the recent convention of the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA), held here. Straight out of the gate, he walked around the crowded convention room and asked his initial point-blank question of the morning: “If things were working the way you wanted and you weren’t having trouble keeping people, you wouldn’t be here, would you?”
One contractor sheepishly uttered, “No,” apparently feeling obligated to answer the aggressive speaker who was standing right in front of him. And so began Garrison’s topic: “How to Attract and Keep the Managers You Need.”
Before most attendees could finish their morning coffee, Garrison let another bombshell drop. “The one thing we have trouble doing is managing people. The trouble is, you can’t manage people. They are unmanageable; mainly, because they don’t want to be managed.”
More than a few eyebrows were raised and some perplexed expressions surfaced before Garrison stated: “What they want to be is led.”
R-E-S-P-E-C-TThe key, in Garrison’s estimation, is “converting all of your managers, from the top person on down to the lowest person in your organization, to leaders, not managers. We can’t afford to have managers.”
The fiery consultant pointed out a recent poll, which drew some strange results. The survey noted that 98% polled believe that U.S. employees are inferior to other countries. The same poll showed that 69% believe the U.S. has the best managers.
“I don’t think those two statements go hand in hand,” he said. “In fact, I think senior management seriously underestimates the potential of its workers and its lower-level managers.”
He noted that in baseball, if a professional team loses, the manager eventually gets fired, not the players.
“How can we have the best managers if we have the worst employees?” he asked, referring back to the MBA poll. “Isn’t it the job of the manager to get the employees to do their jobs? And if they are not doing their jobs, what are you not doing?”
A contractor from the crowd answered, “My job.”
“Right,” was Garrison’s quick reply. “So how can you be the best?”
After a brief silence, he continued, “It’s a mental attitude. You have to recognize that we have to take responsibility. …We have to treat people with respect.”
State Of Turmoil?Garrison was painfully direct in describing the hvacr industry of today: “It’s in turmoil.” The reasons he cited included:
“I could talk about this [changes in the workforce] for eight hours,” he said, but he quickly came to his final analysis. “Gone are the days when material reward and fear of punishment motivate employees. We must treat employees like customers. Why do you think you have to do that? What happens if you do not treat a customer right? What does he do?”
A few attendees could not help but respond aloud: “He leaves.”
“What do you think your employee is going to do?” asked Garrison, but he quickly added, “They have choices. We have to change. We can’t expect them to change.”
FACE THE FACTSIn Garrison’s estimation, it’s time to face the facts when it comes to recruiting, training, and keeping both managers and skilled workers. “Money is not the issue,” he said more than once during the course of his presentation.
In addition to treating employees like customers, Garrison noted that contractors must accept the changes that are coming to the construction industry, learn how one’s management style and organization needs to change, and accept reality — like it or not — “or lose good people to those who will.”
Some of the questions he offered contractors to ask and discuss with his/her employees included:
“U.S. government figures estimate it costs $40,000 to replace an employee,” he said. The announcement was followed by a pronounced whistle. After the figure sunk in, he added, “That’s conservative, believe me. The cost when an employee quits is approximately one and a half times a person’s annual salary.”
His bottom line: “A firm’s financial health depends on finding and keeping good employees.”
WANTED: LEADERSHIPWhen hiring, Garrison passed along three hints:
1. Get creative. “You have to get outside the demographics, outside the stereotype.”
2. Keep an open mind, “even about the unemployed.”
3. Hire based on attitude. “It’s easier to train skills. It’s really a challenge to change attitude.”
When it comes to keeping good managers, Garrison agreed with FMI, which has identified three critical factors to retaining good managers:
1. Organizational direction;
2. Active participation in a firm’s planning and management; and
“We can’t just keep blowing them away,” he said. “They have to have a chance in voicing their opinion.”
Garrison zeroed in on the importance of developing managers into leaders. “How is the best way to motivate people?” he asked.
“Let them do what they want,” came the voice from the back of the room.
“Exactly,” Garrison shot back. “When somebody is doing exactly what they want, do you have to push them?” This is where leadership comes into the equation, he said.
“General Eisenhower had a great quote: ‘Leadership is the ability to get other people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it,’” said Garrison. “Now, stop and think about that statement. He was getting people motivated to be killed.”
Turning to his crowd, he said, “You should have an easier time.”
In his estimation, two dramatic shifts in today’s business arena must be addressed. One is the increased competitive intensity. “This intensity has destabilized companies and has seriously shaken the construction industry.” The increased competitive intensity, he added, has increased the demand for leadership at all levels.
“Today’s leadership intensity is caused by the demand to keep costs down, increase productivity, improve customer service, and keep quality high — not an easy task,” said Garrison. “Without leadership, the stress can disable companies.”
Garrison discussed strategies for creating effective and innovative leaders.
“Wall Street places a higher value on innovation than on any other approach to generating bottom-line and top-line growth,” he said. “Innovation boasts earnings, speeds growth, ensures advantages over competitors, and appeals to shareholders. The problem is, most companies do a terrible job managing innovation.”
Methods to inspire innovation in leaders, Garrison suggested, include:
FINAL THOUGHTSGarrison concluded that it is “easy” to build an organization that attracts the best people and keeps the best people. (The contractors knew full well that his statement was laced heavily with sarcasm.) He said an owner must build an organization that:
For Garrison’s 10 tips on keeping
employees and his requirements for an effective leader, visit The News’ website, www.achrnews.com
Sidebar: Ten Ways to Keep Your EmployeesDuring the course of his presentation, consultant Ted Garrison discussed 10 ways to keep employees. Here is his outline:
1. Learn to be flexible.
C. Accommodating family responsibilities;
D. Recognizing individual differences; and
E. Matching individual competencies with job rewards.
2. Train and develop managers and workers.
A. A more valuable company;
B. Increased productivity;
C. Better quality work; and
D. Lower turnover.
3. Encourage creativity.
4. Empower employees.
5. Unleash the power of suggestions.
A. “Every employee should see and understand the company’s financials.”
B. “Employees learn that it is their job to improve the numbers.”
C. “Employees have a direct stake in the company’s success,” said Garrison, noting that profit sharing is a must to attract the best people today.
7. Enhance the work environment.
8. Create an environment free of fear.
9. Build trust.
10. Accept employees’ ideas.
Sidebar: Wanted: Effective LeadersSo what are the requirements for an effective leader? In Ted Garrison’s estimation, the list includes:
Publication date: 11/19/2001