Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to observe two different teams while replacing the flooring on my first floor. The first team laid tiles, and it was an uncomfortable experience watching the master tiler berate his apprentice. The second team demoed the wood floor and carpet as a team.
The tile experience was awkward. While the end work product was excellent, the apprentice was treated more like a dog than an employee. The tiler incessantly berated his employee making it difficult to work from home. Several times an hour I heard the boss yell “Charlie!” and then proceed to tell him he was lazy or incompetent. The tiler did all of the artisan work with the apprentice grabbing tools, hauling tile, mixing grout, and waiting for his next instruction.
When I discussed it with the flooring company that was managing the project, they confessed that they usually have him work new construction instead of renovations. The master tiler will have work so long as the economy is strong, but I imagine he will be quickly dropped once the economy cools.
The second team arrived this morning and attacked phase I (demo). All four knew their roles and worked without much direction required. The house was noisy with electrical saws and wood being pulled up with crowbars. It buzzed with Spanish as the guys enjoyed working together. Nobody needed direction beyond simple coordination. The men moved between tasks as the project proceeded. I don’t think I heard a single raised voice. They were a team that I’d welcome back in my home.
So what was the key difference? Respect. If you respect your teammates and subordinates, the team is more efficient, the work is more enjoyable, and each member is confident in their role.