Positive Reinforcement

As an intro, I am a manager. I have a very laid back style of management and do not like to micromanage everyone because I do not like that to be done to me. My management philosophy revolves around treating people how I would like to be treated. I have had great success with this style.

My company enjoys sending me interns when they have them, not because they think I am a good teacher, but because I don’t complain. Even with the Foremen who work under me, I treat everyone the same; with respect.

Respect is one of my core values and I feel that relationships are built on respect. It is hard to negotiate or advance when people don’t respect you. It also leads to a mutual relationship between the two parties and creates a more streamlined approach to just handling day to day activities. I tell all the interns that the first rule I have is to not be a dick. It works.

Being an engineer by trade, I am not going to be telling people who do physical labor how to do physical labor. My job is to read plans and set things up logistically in order for my men to go to work. Generally people in my position are hated by the foremen and crew because of a general know it all attitude that we may express. To me that was never really the issue because I always started my relationship with a new foreman with the mutual understanding that I was going to respect his style of leadership and work with him not against him.

Whenever I write these advice type articles, I don’t want to make it seem like an order, merely a suggestion. It is best to adopt a plan that revolves around yourself and your unique quirks. Same thing goes for my crew. I respect the chain of command and do not act with a sense of superiority. I do not let my ego get in the way of building business relationships and I try to keep my ego out of my life’s decisions in general. Life to me has become a process of being as fluid as possible in order to not be a path of resistance to the greater goal.

Back when I was doing actual engineering as a job, I crushed it. I didn’t enjoy what I was doing, but I did it anyway. I was promised to be a manager, but they told me that I needed to get experience in engineering first. I understood the logic and learning something new was a challenge that I accepted. Unfortunately, that went on for two years and I was fed up at the end because I had exceeded the performance of the other engineers in the company and barely got a pay raise and never got to do what I was originally hired to do. So I quit and moved into the field side of the things where running a job site is like running your own business.

Back when I was still in the engineering field, one of the main things that always bothered me was how I was never appreciated for the work that I was doing. I sense that this is a pretty universal feeling overall. You kill it in and out every day, but there are people ahead of you based on age or butt-kissing (it does exist) and merit takes a backseat in today’s work force.

While it did suck, the worst part was finishing things on time or ahead of schedule and handing it in and your boss only giving you your next task. No “thank you” or “good job” or “why don’t you take the rest of the day off.” Just another job to continue to erode your desire to continue to perform.

Becoming the boss, I had been in the boots of the other side. One thing I do for my men is randomly go up to them and tell them that they are doing a really good job and that I appreciate it. It works wonders and I am not even doing it for a manipulation purpose to get better production numbers. I don’t even think that the positive reinforcement that I described above would work if you were not sincere. My company seems to have a good handle on this philosophy as well as they will give the guys small bonuses every once in a while to keep up morale.

Over the summer the guys were doing excellent and were making three times the amount that their labor cost. Besides for only telling them, “thank you” and “good job,” I talked to my foreman and for each month we would designate a Friday where I would get catering for the men and they would just unwind for the rest of the day. A couple of bucks for the catering and the downtime of them not working was repaid the next month by continuing to come in and do what they had to do.

This philosophy is universal as well. How many times a day are we so caught up with the stress of our lives that we don’t tell people we are close to that we love them. Even on Twitter to random strangers that I will never meet if they send me something or compliment me I will give them a “thank you” in return. In order to receive, you have to to give and a little more giving in this world would make it a better place.

Finally, this applies to yourself as well. We are fascinating beings. The things we take for granted like learning and using technology has become a norm, but how many other animals on this planet have a cell phone? At night before going to bed I acknowledge to myself what I have done and how much I have grown mentally and spiritually over the course of my life and look to continue to improve. That was one of the main reasons for me starting this blog. A song lyric that will forever stick with me is, ”
Best, You’ve got to be the best. You’ve got to change the world And use this chance to be heard. Your time is now” – Muse (Butterflies and Hurricanes)

So in short, try to be the best and try to change the world. We only have a short amount of time on this planet, so the time to do it is now.

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