I guess you’ve noticed, finding a good people to add to your team isn’t easy right now, especially if you are in Auckland or Christchurch. I hear this complaint regularly from the owners of construction companies I talk to and that they either have low or no response to their ads, or that the calibre of applicants is woeful.

So, what can you do about it? The law of supply and demand is fairly inflexible and this applies to skilled people as much as it does to the finished product. What is needed is a different approach to the problem. A different way of thinking.

Maybe try thinking like a coach in Super15 rugby franchise building your team roster for the next season.

Firstly ask the question, would you work for yourself? If the answer is not a resounding “absolutely!”, then look at how you promote the company and your culture. In a high demand, low supply market you need to promote your business as a great place to work, just as you promote your company to a prospective clients. Aim to put as much time and effort into securing that target team member as you do a target client. And it’s not all about money. A recent example in the rugby world is the return of Sonny-Bill Williams to the ITM Cup. SBW could have the pick of any province and they would lay significant money at his feet. But he chose little old Counties-Manukau, and for much less money. Why? The culture around Tana Umanga as coach and their friendship.   Culture is important and doesn’t need to cost much.

Design a compensation package that attracts, but doesn’t send you broke. What sort of performance-based pay can be added to a base that will reward top performers and encourage others to lift their game? Top rugby players receive performance-based bonuses; otherwise they get too comfortable and forget what they are really there for.

Look outside the local region also. Super15 management don’t only hire local. They look at more distant locations where they perceive the supply to be a bit higher and the demand (cost) a bit lower. Looking for that hidden gem. If you can’t find guys in Auckland, why not try regional centres where the construction market is much quieter?

Some Super15 coaches even look overseas for players. More complications and higher initial costs maybe, but if you exhaust the NZ market for team prospects the pool overseas is a lot wider and deeper. The Christchurch rebuild wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for the overseas work force.

Leverage your hiring process. By this I mean get others to help you scout for talent, just like happens at lower grade rugby matches. One of the best people to ask will be your existing top performers. Like tends to attract like and so your top guys will more likely associate with people who think along similar lines. Ask them who do they know and would they be open to having a chat about the idea of changing employer. Perhaps even offer a hiring bonus to your top guys.

So, using your normal hiring process probably won’t have the desired effect right now. If you want a different result, you need to use some new ideas. Hopefully there are some ideas above that you can try and that will help. Building a winning team on the rugby field is the same as on the building site. It starts with the hiring process and then good coaching. You are the coach, so it’s down to you!

Andy Burrows   The Trades Coach   www.tradescoach.co.nz