How to create a great team and working environment as a builder

Creating A Great Team and Workplace

How do you create a great team and working environment as a builder? 

And get them to work towards your goals for the business? Read more here.

They say teamwork makes the dream work, but for many builders, their team is a huge source of frustration, and a big challenge to manage.

However, if you want to grow your building business and have any freedom as well, having a team you can rely on and trust is so essential to making this happen. 

In this blog post, you’ll see what’s worked for Duayne as he’s built a great team and working environment in his building business. And what you can do to achieve the same in yours.

It may be simpler than you think! 

However, it probably requires team conversations you’re not having right now. So read on to learn more about what you can do to turn things around.


It’s very easy to get caught up in all the day to day tasks of keeping a building business alive and running. Quite often this means you don’t have time to check in with your team because you are so focused on putting out fires, chasing your tail and getting money in the bank. It’s really important to remember that there’s no ‘I’ in team, and without your team you are limited as to what you can achieve.

And so, one of the most important things for Duayne is creating an environment where his team feels comfortable and happy. For Duayne this means a lot as it’s something that he never had during his apprenticeship and early days as a subcontractor. He has very clear memories of being treated like he wasn’t important and was simply there to make up the numbers to get the work done.

Duayne often talks about his team being part of his family and he looks after them just like they are. In fact, when Covid-19 started affecting the building industry. Duayne called a toolbox meeting and talked to his team about how he would completely change his business model to make sure that he could keep them working and earning an income for their families.

Duayne is really big on talking to his team about the journey he is on personally and what his goals are for the business. He has realised that for a lot of the goals he is setting to actually become reality, he needs his team to grow with him. To do this he needs his team to feel like working at D Pearce Constructions is a lot more than just a job, and they are part of something much bigger. 

Getting your team invested in your shared goals is powerful and can make a huge difference to your teams’ mindset.

So how has Duayne managed to get his team so invested in his business? 

It’s pretty simple, he invests in them. 

Most employers are so focused on their goals that they don’t stop to think about the goals their team members may have.

Have you asked your team what their goals are?


So, do you feel like you are always having to repeat yourself and sometimes feel like you may as well do everything yourself? 

We get it, sometimes it can feel so hard to manage your team because there’s different personalities, different attitudes, and different mindsets. This is normal and can be exciting once you figure out what makes them tick.

As the business owner you are, or should be, driven by more than just getting out of bed and going to work each day just to earn money. You more than likely have goals that you have set in your mind to achieve, and this is what makes you do what you do. 

And so the same goes for your team. You want your team to be showing up for more than just a paycheck, you need to know what their goals are. 

Have you ever thought to ask them what makes them show up to work each day? 

Have you asked them what their goals (short and long term) actually are?

A lot of employers properly avoid this question as they think it will just cost them money, but they don’t realise the return they will get.

Finding out what the goals are of your team members has the potential to completely change the way your team members look at you. 

We get our Live Life Build members to do this exercise, and from the feedback we have had, they’ve found it really powerful. 

When first asked this question, most people don’t actually know what to say as it’s not something they have ever been asked or talked to about. 

Chances are that your team members will take a while to let you know some of the goals they have as they might feel uncomfortable talking to you about them. So, it’s really important that you allow them to feel comfortable talking to you.

It’s also worth understanding that a lot of people don’t want all the stress and problems that come with running their own business, so they end up being employees. This is absolutely fine as everyone is different, but giving your employees some of the benefits you have as the business owner can be the goals that they have.

Here’s some examples of the goals your employees may have, and how you could help and facilitate them in your everyday business:

>> Spending more time with their families

This could be allowing them to start late when their kids have special events at school, finishing early to pick their kids up every now and then, finding out when their kids have special parades for events like Easter and Christmas. A lot of employees won’t do these things because of the financial pressure they are under and can’t afford the time off. You could come up with a deal with them that benefits both sides.

>> They want to work for themselves one day

You could give them some of your time every now and then to talk about business, help them learn from mistakes you have made so they don’t make the same ones. Don’t be afraid that by doing this, you’ll lose them, as this will make them leave sooner. Show them that you want them to do well.

>> They might want to work their way up in your business

This can help you grow the business. So offer them the opportunity to go to seminars and courses that you help pay for, and give them some of your time every now and then to talk about what you would like them to do so they can focus on these things.

>> They might want to buy a house or a car and don’t have or know anyone to talk to

You might have people you have dealt with over the years that you could introduce them to.

>> They could be struggling with personal or family life

And just want someone they can trust to talk to after work every now and then.

>> They might be trying to build up their tool collection

You could offer to help them out by getting them a better deal on your account.

So, you can see from these examples there are so many simple things that you can do to help your team members reach their goals. However, the first step is taking the time to ask what their goals actually are.


As a business owner you probably have your own personal and business goals. 

You may have done an exercise to find out the goals of your team members. 

However, have you ever held a toolbox meeting to talk to your team about developing a list of goals that you can all work together on?

For a business to run smoothly, it’s really important that each member of the team feels valued, and that they can contribute to the work they do everyday, and the way it gets done.

And so, it’s important to have regular conversations with your team about how the business is operating, as what someone is doing at one stage might be causing problems at another stage. 

Some good topics to discuss to help a building business run better and set goals that the team can work together on are:

>> Scheduling

Talking about how the scheduling that might be getting done in the office is actually working onsite. 

For example, is there enough time being allowed for each task or is it ending up with multiple tasks happening over the top of each other and everyone getting annoyed on site? Are materials not showing up at the right time either too early and creating storage issues or too late and delaying things? 

A great goal that can come out of this conversation is getting the team to communicate more often, or at set stages. 

In Duayne’s business, they have recently reached a huge goal of getting everyone in his office and site team to communicate via an App called Slack. Rather than someone having to follow up with phone calls or wait for someone to attend the site and check things, they now all send messages and photos on Slack which is saving a lot of time, and keeping a searchable record of the conversation that’s occurring too.

>> Teamwork

Is everyone working well together? Is everyone happy with how things are going? Finding out this sort of information allows the team to set some goals around the problems. If you don’t know what each team member is thinking, it’s hard to set goals to improve the situation.

>> Quality of work

As the business owner you should have goals for the level of quality you expect all work to be done to. There might be members of your team that don’t understand your expectations, so it’s important to make sure everyone is on the same page. And so, setting a goal for handing all your projects over defect free is a good one for this.

It’s important that once you have set team goals that you keep reviewing them together as a team. Hold regular toolbox meetings and get everyone involved, make them feel comfortable to talk about what they are thinking. 

Goals won’t be reached if the team isn’t working together.


Running a building business is incredibly hard as everyone has to work together every day. It’s not like other businesses where you might have lots of staff in an office and everyone has their own space to sit and do their work, or if you are in retail, you can spend time with customers around the store. 

Nearly all the work that the trades do onsite has to be done together as a team, due to the nature of it and the timelines required for each task to be completed. 

Take carpenters, for instance. A lot of the work they do can be done by one person however, it would have too significant an impact on the timeframes, and a project that should take 4 months would end up being 12 months or more. And, if it was done by one person, that person would only have a very short career, as their back would suffer from doing all the lifting on their own.

Because teamwork becomes so essential to how projects get built and a building business is run, it’s important to cultivate great teamwork in your business. And a big part of this going well is ensuring that each of your team members takes responsibility for their actions. 

This means that each member of your team understands why it’s so important that they own their mistakes. It’s up to you to hold each team member accountable when something isn’t correct or up to your standard. How you handle holding people accountable can have an impact on the entire team.

We recently had a member who told us a great story about 2 apprentices that completed their time only 6 months apart. 

When they started, their age was about the only thing they had in common. 

One was so keen to do everything, buy all his tools and complete his time as soon as he could. He worked as hard as he could all the time and was always trying to impress whoever he was working with. This was great to begin with, but as he went through his time as an apprentice, the cracks started to appear. He was always too busy trying to impress everyone that he wouldn’t listen properly when he was being told how or what to do. Then when he would make mistakes, he always had an excuse, or it was someone else’s fault.

The other guy was much slower and took a bit longer to take things in when something was being shown to him. In fact, quite often he would have to be shown two or three times. As he went through his time, the builder he was working for kept thinking that he might not finish, as he just didn’t seem fully invested in the job. There were times that they had long conversations about if being a carpenter was what he really wanted to do. 

However, halfway through his apprenticeship, things really started to change. He was stepping up a lot more and showing signs of becoming a great carpenter. He even started asking the builder what more he could do, what courses he should do, and where the builder recommended any areas that he could improve on.

In the end, the guy who started out slow and the builder didn’t think would finish, turned out to be an awesome carpenter that went on to be employed as a full-time carpenter within the business. 

The other guy didn’t end up lasting long after he finished his apprenticeship, as he was annoyed that the builder wasn’t immediately stepping him up to a higher paid position equal to a carpenter with many more years experience. 

The builder gave both young guys an opportunity to grow with the business. It was simple. The deal was “you show me what you can do, don’t make mistakes, take responsibility for everything you do and speed up like a carpenter. If you do this, I’ll keep reviewing you and you will keep getting rewarded.”

The guy who stepped up and took accountability for his actions powered on and was very successful. 

And the other guy continued to blame everyone for what was happening to him and because of this he thought the grass was always greener on the other side and was never happy.

If you have people in your team that don’t take responsibility for their actions, and you don’t hold them accountable, it will always put added pressure on you and the rest of your team. And it changes the whole dynamic of how you work together as a team as well.


Building a team environment can be one of the most challenging things for any business owner, as it can be very difficult to manage everyone’s personalities, attitudes, and opinions. However, it’s so important that you put time, energy, and money into your team to make sure the business grows and is sustainable long term.

The building industry is so hard for everyone involved, and it’s so easy for the business owner to get snowed under, and forget that your team is dealing with it as well. 

You might think that you’re the only one running around like a headless chook trying to keep things going. However, your team is running around trying to get the work done for you and keep you happy. While we are writing this blog, it is coming to the end of 2021 and it looks like 2022 will be one of the hardest years the residential building industry has had in Australia.

There’s never been a more important time for everyone in the industry to work together and help each other out. For builders it’s important that you show your team, your contractors, and your suppliers that you appreciate them. 

It’s also very important that if you are an employee, you show your boss that you appreciate the job you have in these uncertain times.

And so, creating a work environment where people love what they do is one of the most powerful things you can do for your business. 

Having a business that supports people is not only good for establishing a sustainable long-term business. It’s fantastic for people’s mental health and wellbeing as they will feel calm at work.

And a big part of this is to celebrate the wins. 

Celebrate together as a team, and also, as a business owner, celebrate the individuals who are doing great work for your business as well.

If you have successful projects, celebrate them. If someone in your team does something great or learns something new, celebrate it. If your team is kicking goals and meeting targets, celebrate them. If your clients are telling you that your team is fantastic to work with, celebrate it with them. If a member of your team reaches a milestone or a goal they have set, celebrate it.

These don’t all have to be huge events. They can have a few beers with the team, a pub lunch, a pat on the back or even a hug, a toolbox meeting to tell the team how much you appreciate them or even just a text message at the end of the week thanking them for their hard work.

You get back what you put out. Celebrate the wins. Be kind, and grateful, and you’ll create a great working environment in your business.

So, here’s our 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 to identify your ideal project.

5. Have you asked your team what their goals are?

4. How can you help and facilitate your team’s goals?

3. What are your goals as a team?

2. Holding people accountable.

1. Celebrate the wins and create a good work environment.

Live Life Build’s 6P Methodology unlocks the 6 ways to elevate your building business:

Want to learn how to be a better business owner? Learn the systems, marketing tools, mindset, and business skills you need in our group program and mastermind, ELEVATE. Learn more here.

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