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People management: why being likeable is key to team compliance

Construction leaders need an array of soft skills to get the job done. They need to be organized, communicate well, and always remember to put safety first. All things considered, however, they will have a better chance of rallying their teams when they are likeable.

We all want to be liked, and being a likeable leader is essential for a well-run team. Likeable leaders build trust with their employees, which can result in higher levels of productivity, decreased stressed, and better team compliance.

‘Tough’ managers often mistakenly think that putting pressure on employees will increase performance.

“’Tough’ managers often mistakenly think that putting pressure on employees will increase performance,” states a Harvard Business Review report. “What it does increase is stress—and research has shown that high levels of stress carry a number of costs to employers and employees alike.”

Healthier, Happier Workers

Construction is a stressful industry. High levels of stress can take a toll on workers and companies by leading to decreased productivity, higher turnover, and health care costs that are 46 percent higher. How leaders interact with their workers can help regulate both stress levels and worker happiness.

Owing to their employment in the construction industry, 68 percent of workers reported suffering from stress, anxiety, and depression, a study by the U.K.’s Chartered Institute of Building found. Workers cited the cause of the stress as lack of feedback, poor communication, too much work, pressure, and conflicting demands.

When leaders are fair and likeable, the entire team models that behavior and becomes more productive. Research shows that when leaders are “self-sacrificing,” employees are often inspired, feel more loyal, and will go out of their way to be helpful and friendly. The more considerate team leaders are, the more likely others will follow suit.

Listening and Engaging

Construction leaders (a.k.a. managers) spend a considerable part of their day on the job site, so fostering interpersonal relationships with others is an important way to build team compliance and synergy.

So, how can construction leaders become more likeable? Here are four ways:

  1. Ask questions. Asking team members questions or asking their opinions shows that you’re interested and care about their ideas. This will help you establish connections with people. Also, address everyone by name. It will show them that you see them as an individuals and consider them essential members of the team.
  2. Offer help. People appreciate helpfulness and will likely return the favor. Leaders who make a special effort to help individuals or the entire team will build stronger bonds and be liked more. This will prove its worth when you need a favor or some extra help on a project.
  3. Focus on the positive. Staying as upbeat as you can and always looking on the bright side, even in a not-so-positive situation, will ensure that your team sees you in a positive light. Being too negative will alienate people and bring the whole team’s mood down.
  4. Be consistent. Everyone has a bad day from time to time, and it’s tough to be cheerful all the time. That said, consistency is essential. When your team knows what to expect from you—and knows they will not be subjected to spontaneous blow-ups, blind favoritism, deprecating comments, or personal attacks—they will feel more secure and trusting, which will lead to better project outcomes.

Likability is an essential quality for all leaders, but especially in the construction industry, where two days on the job site are rarely the same. Being a reliable and likeable leader will keep employees motivated and productivity high.