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Is your company 'fit, fresh and fun'?

The most successful companies in the construction industry excel at recruiting, retaining and motivating the best people, believes Richard Scase.

They adopt the mindset of the knowledge-based organisation rather than the industrial organisation, and attract the next generation to work for them and to perform at their best.

The talented young professional of today, upon whose work the future of your organisation depends, will work in half a dozen different jobs or more, and won't feel any long-term affiliation with one organisation. More than 80 per cent of workers say they feel little or no commitment to their employers.

They no longer want to work simply to live. They want to be proud of what they do, to feel a sense of purpose, and to be valued for their ideas. They want to make their mark.

Look at your company from the perspective of these bright young things. Is it 'fit, fresh and fun' - which is the culture they look for - or 'slow, stale and solemn'?

Learning from entrepreneurs

Rather than the traditional large departments with hierarchies of management and formal bureaucracy, they thrive in a flat structure with small teams that are very open to ideas, discussion, informal information sharing and fast action. They look to you as a leader to inspire them, set the direction, and set them free.

This description is very similar to successful entrepreneurial companies. There's an awful lot for leaders of large organisations to learn from entrepreneurs. After all, if you can persuade the best to come to work for you in a garage for less money and less security, you must know a thing or two about leadership.

In the entrepreneurial firm there is a heavy emphasis on sociability. Information and ideas flow very easily. There's no room for bureaucracy, no place for politics.

All the surveys show that people who work in smaller companies are happier and they get more job satisfaction than people in large firms. This is because they feel more involved, but also because it's a real meritocracy. People have to fit in and work hard or leave - there's nowhere to hide.

Everything in the entrepreneurial firm is transparent and candid. Everything is honest, even if it means tough decisions or bad news. There's a culture of 'telling the whole truth, faster' whereas a large organisation will drip-feed the bad news.

This style of leadership is just one factor of many that is helping the fastest, freshest and most fun firms in the industry to attract, retain and motivate the best people - but it's the foundation, a bedrock on which these companies build.

Professor Richard Scase is speaking at the Leadership in Construction Conference organised by Constructing Excellence on November 13. More details at LeadershipInConstruction.com