Why “drink a cup of concrete” doesn’t cut it anymore

For trade business owners, there’s a long-held belief  that the “drink a cup of concrete” and “toughen up” approaches are the best ways to handle the struggles of life’s up and downs. But these practices are out of step with current expectations.

As a tradie boss, how do you balance the mental health and wellbeing of you and your team with the financial pressures of running a productive trade business?

With mental health issues on the rise, this year’s R U OKAY? DAY, on Thursday, 10 September 2020, is an important reminder for us all to consider the culture we’re building in our own workplaces — and it might involve a good look in the mirror.

You learnt from your old boss

Most of us tradies in business learnt from our first boss. Even though we may not have agreed with how they did things, it’s the only point of reference we’ve had. The thing is, times have changed since then. Your team is probably from a younger generation than you, and these tradies have different expectations of the leaders they work for.

So, while it’s easy to fall back on recycled (outdated) leadership practices from your first boss, being stuck in this mindset is short sighted. Younger tradies will leave jobs more readily than their predecessors. Instead of scratching your head over why your tradies keep moving on, you’ve got to come to the table with what they want:

  • training opportunities
  • leaders who seek and value feedback from them
  • workplace flexibility (for self care and emotional health)
  • guidance andinspiration (not directing).

How’d you go? Are you always looking for new ways to communicate and connect or is your head still back in the old days?

More expectation, less certainty

Back in the day, leaders could at least count on a reasonably stable world, where change unfolded at a much slower pace. These days, the present only exists for about a nano-second. This year is a perfect example of that. As we move towards the “next normal”, will your leadership adapt with it?

Your job is more than telling your team what to do and when, where, and how to do it. You’ve got to consider your team’s wellbeing as well as your own. New leaders build trust, but barriers. For example, for an R U OK? conversation to be meaningful it must be authentic and involve a level of trust between people.

Be an employer of choice

While you’ve got legal obligations as an employer, Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, to protect the mental and physical wellbeing of your employees, creating a two-way relationship with your tradies will help position your trade business to be an employer of choice. You already know how competitive it is to secure good tradies!

The narrative you use will set the tone for who you attract to join your team and how long they stay with you. People who are struggling with mental health aren’t “soft”. They just need some extra support to help them through. And, you’re not “soft” if you’re struggling, too. Everyone hits a tough spot sometimes. R U OKAY?