Hey Coach, 

As a construction supervisor, I am challenged by finding good workers for my crews. When we need additional workers, we are mainly given warm bodies. Yet, these inexperienced workers are unproductive, typically require extra supervision, make costly mistakes, and slow down the crew. What could I do to improve the situation?

Dear‭ ‬Not‭ ‬a Fan of Warm Bodies‭,‬

It‭ ‬is probably no surprise that this challenge isn‮!&‬t unique to you‭. ‬The shortage of skilled workers is an industry-wide problem‭. ‬Many supervisors tell me their crews would prefer to work short-handed than have an unskilled‭ ‬‮!’‬warm body‮!(‬‭ ‬added to the crew‭. ‬But that‮!&‬s not always the best answer‭. ‬Here are four actions you can take to improve your situation‭.


Remain open-minded, supportive, and positive about any new hires, experienced or not. The most effective leaders know that genuine caring earns their loyalty, which is critical to the success of the team, the project, and the organization. Many supervisors fall short in giving an abundance of praise, recognition, and positive reinforcement. It’s not hard to do—to both existing and new crew members—and it doesn’t cost anything. You’re creating a sense of belonging, which people value. 


Be mindful of the need to build a team atmosphere that has fantastic chemistry. When you do, employee engagement and improved skill will follow. The result will be sustainable success going forward.

What’s needed to achieve high levels of team chemistry? Ensuring an alignment of values among teammates and within the organization. Their skill sets, backgrounds, and experience may differ, but organizational and personal values must line up. Know that you can always train and develop skills. Instead, concentrate on hiring people based on how well their values support your organization’s values.


Everyone wants to contribute to the success of a project, so make sure all jobs you ask your crew to perform have meaning. This means taking extra time to explain why the tasks they’re doing are important to the whole project. Also ask all crew members to focus on the purpose of the project versus the tasks they’re performing. For example, you’d say, “The school you’re helping build will be a great place for kids to get an education and grow into future business leaders.” That’s a more meaningful message than saying, “Move these bricks from point A to point B.”


Exceptional leaders proactively and strategically develop their people because they know that the more developed their people become, the better they will perform. Eventually this will result in better-than-industry-average results. 

A development method often overlooked is emphasizing cross-functional training. You want to provide the “warm bodies” you’re training with exposure to different aspects of construction outside their primary area of responsibility. When done correctly, cross-functional training improves overall performance and results.


Your goal should be to never lose good employees; they are more than warm bodies. You’ve invested in them, so strive to keep them on your crew. If you don’t retain your top workers or can’t find the right talent, what does that say about your organization’s future? 

About the Coach:

As a leadership development expert, Randy Goruk works with construction industry leaders to improve employee engagement and business growth. Register to receive his Leadership Tip of the Week at www.LeadersEdge360.com, or contact him directly to learn how he can help you and your team: randy@LeadersEdge360.com.

Modern Contractor Solutions, August 2021
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