Painting & Decorating X Boss

X bosses in the world of construction are like the fictional team of the superheroes, The X Men. Their businesses are unique. People want to work for their company. People hardly ever leave their company to work somewhere else. People relish being part of the company team. People want to turn up and are keen to work, yet they could be paid the same or even more elsewhere. But each day is reality not the work of fiction.

Talking with the workers from Andreus Painting Ltd Dunedin, business values are at the heart of a great company culture. Apprentice Shaun Mitchell, Andreus Painting Ltd, Dunedin talked about his enthusiasm to come to work each day. He attributes it to the team culture.

“We all get on in the team. If they offered me $10 an hour more I wouldn’t go. Andre is not just a boss but is also a worker. He will kick in and help when he calls in on a job. We’re not scared to ask him anything. We get asked our opinion about how each job could be approached.

Andre Van Leewen“I don’t want to wake up feeling disgruntled about what I am going to do that day. I like waking up motivated about what I am going to do today. The best part is the team and if I make a mistake they let me know and they deal with it. No one puts me down for making a mistake," says Shaun.

When talking with Andre van Leewen specifically to find out how he has made his business effective and a desirable company for an employee, it is no surprise to find that Andreaus Painting employees work as a team in a fun environment. Employees are made to feel needed and wanted.

“I treat people the way I want to be treated. Everyone is asked for input as to how each job is approached and their opinion is encouraged and respected which brings into the company new ways of approaching problems. If there are issues we talk about it and resolve it.

“Employees are treated fairly. They know their hours and they are taken care of. If for some reason they need a hand up, or some time off, it is offered," says Andre.

Occasionally they finish early and go out for lunch together. Once, when the slush fund had built up, they hired a car for the weekend and took a trip over the Dunstan Trail and enjoyed white water rafting. Employees are made to feel needed and wanted.

When recruiting employees Andre first looks for a personality and good attitude to match his company’s culture. “We have company standards and expectations which are set for all workers," he told BCITO. He regularly talks to each of his workers and sets out where they need to be with quality of work. He asks what is needed to help them get to that standard. He also provides them with client feedback.

The aim is to have employees that can be trusted, so they want to come to work and have ownership of their work. Andre has found the staff forms relationships with clients which, of course, is good for business.

We asked Andre what his best piece of advice for other employers is and he replied, “Speak respectfully to staff. Stop being the boss and treat workers like people. It's not about them and you, it’s about everyone in the team being important. Work as a team. Most of the guys want to work, please the boss and be happy with what they have done. If they see there is no future for them or the boss is not really interested they will leave.”

Staff are 100% the most important part of business. The rest of the stuff … emails sign-writing, website is all glitter and is just stuff.

What do we know about great employers?

  • Have employee first mentality – You can‘t control outputs like quality work, customer satisfaction without supporting inputs, such as everyday employee actions and behaviours.
  • Know what motivates employeesIn the past people wanted to join a company. Today they want to follow a vision and join a team. Wade Burgess, LinkedIn. You need to ensure that your offering is beyond pay and job security.
  • Understand that employees work in days, not years – provide regular feedback. Don’t wait for the annual performance review.
  • Respect - Treat employees like customers – think of how you invest in prospective and current customers trying to find them, understand them better, retain them and communicate specifically to them.
  • Don’t just measure – Act – have your finger on the pulse and engage with employees on more of a weekly basis and deal with smoke before fire.
  • Involvement - employees feel involved, if they have the opportunity to make suggestions and have input on work processes that affect their job.
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