Interviewed by Brian Horn
Even though Steve Hoover has worked as both a business owner, owning a roofing and waterproofing company, and an employee, he admits it’s challenging to remember not everyone thinks like an owner.
“I expect everybody to have that high degree of desire to do everything in the best interests of the company and as efficiently as possible,” says Hoover, a partner at the company and president of maintenance division at SiteWorks. “But you also have to think that a lot of guys are just trying to get through the day, and they’re making a lot lower wage. I have to refocus and put myself down at that level to say, ‘OK, I understand their challenges and I understand their frustrations.’ Then that folds into my personal interactions with them, and the things that I present to them as opportunities.” We caught up with Hoover and found out how he engages with employees.
L&L: How do you put yourself in the shoes of your hourly employees?
SH: I take a moment, especially at foreman level or even guys that I see that are the number twos, to take a few moments and chat with them. You get to know a little bit about them. It’s a fine line that you don’t want to get overly personal with any one employee, but you want to know something about them.
You want them to know that you do care about their life and their family and their livelihood and their long-term opportunities with the company. So you take those moments and you get to know the person to a certain extent and then you share with them maybe personal experiences, if you can, and help them grow by that type of a shared knowledge.
L&L: Do you have any tips to remember certain things about employees?
SH: It’s putting a concerted effort into that task. Frankly, I’m horrible with names. I hate it. I’m one of those guys that will shake somebody’s hand in a meeting and I’ll forget his name by the time I let go of his hand, but employees are different. Employees really, I hate to say it, I guess it’s maybe not the most professional character trait, but I really do think our employees are family and you don’t forget family’s names. We do have divisions. I don’t know all 150 employees in our entire company, but within our specific divisions that we are intimate with, I know all my guys, all of them.
But there’s guys in the irrigation installation crew and construction that frankly I probably met three times, because they’re never in the office. But I tell you what, one of the guys that manages those guys, absolutely knows them.
L&L: What types of employee engagement activities does SiteWorks do?
SH: We do a lot of training. We’ll usually bring in breakfast or a lunch or something like that when we do a training. It gives us an opportunity to sit down in a group and we’ll have a bull session before and air out questions, concerns, upcoming opportunities with the company – looking at things that we see coming down the pike, industry trends.
We’ll do a holiday barbecue. We’ll do a Fourth of July barbecue. A safety day training where we come in and talk about safety and things like that and that gives us times to get all the crews together and reinforce those opportunities of engagement from all levels.