Engaged and enabled

The word “passive” is seven letters long, but to Bob Roepnack, it’s
a four-letter word in the language of business.

A company full of employees who robotically follow orders is a
company that will stagnate and eventually die, says the president of
Pompano-Beach-based Roepnack Corp., a 40-employee construction
management firm that generated approximately $12 million in revenue last year.

Roepnack wants active employees who bring new ideas to the table
and are constantly thinking of better ways to get from start to finish.
While personality plays a part in employees who are engaged and
enthusiastic, far more of the equation is based on the steps management takes to encourage, enable and incentivize talented team members.

Smart Business spoke with Roepnack about how to find great
employees and tap into their potential.

Q: Why is it important to keep employees engaged in their jobs?

It’s important to employees and the growth because they feel they
are headed in a direction that they have taken part in developing. Any
time someone is involved in the direction they are headed, there is
much more buy-in, and their ownership of where we are headed is
going to help you get there.

They’re not just along for the ride; they’re going to come up with
ideas and be creative.

Q: What qualities are you looking for in employees?

The people we are looking for need to be great, key, top performers.
In general terms, they’re excited about the work that they’re involved
in, they are enthusiastic about working with other people and they
have to be highly organized and creative.

We use a variety of techniques to go out and find those people. We
do multiple interviews, and we do some testing that will help us to discern what their predictions are for how they’re going to work once
they get in here.

As far as employees that we have, we make sure they fulfill the
expectations we have. We are constantly involved in the training. We
don’t really want to call them education programs because a lot of
people really come to us with a strong background.

But we constantly wok together to find all the new opportunities
and techniques and communication methods that are out there so
that information can flow, and we keep everyone on the same page
with our projects.

Q: How do you make sure employees aren’t overshooting or under-shooting what they are capable of?

From experience, mostly. Since I, too, have been in their shoes as an
employee working with them in the trenches as a project manager or
supervisor, I have a real understanding of trying to limit how much
they take on so they can actually fulfill the expectations, and not try
to overwhelm them so that they are unable to meet their commitments.

It’s a matter of making sure people don’t get overcommitted by
knowing how many projects is too many for a supervisor to be
involved with. If you let people take on too many things, it will stunt
your growth because you won’t be able to fulfill the expectations.

Q: What is the risk of setting the bar too low?

If you do that, you’re going to lose your employees because everyone functions a little better if they’re challenged. It’s a balancing act.
You can’t just overwhelm them because they’ll eventually leave or
burn out, and you want to constantly challenge them to the point
where they are enthused about coming to work and see that they’re
making a difference.

Q: Why is the cross-pollination of ideas among employees important?

It allows managers that are involved in the day-to-day processes to
show they are involved, so that everyone knows they are making a difference. It allows the upper management to be involved in the projects so that you have a chance to interact with everyone, all the dayto-day managers, and recognizing their support, what they bring to the
organization. It allows upper management to interact with the managers and provide constructive criticism for other opportunities and
allows everyone to kind of work together to find solutions for issues
that come up.

Q: How important is it to show employees your gratitude?

It’s important; otherwise their only sense of accomplishment, in our
case, would be looking at the building when it’s done. People need to
be recognized not just for that but for their contribution to the overall

We have a review procedure and a structure of reward that is
twofold. One is on the overall success of the corporation as a whole,
so they can all recognize what they’ve done to make us successful as
a whole.

Then, people involved with individual projects, we’re able to recognize them individually for the roles that they’ve done and what they’ve
done to bring successful projects to completion.

HOW TO REACH: Roepnack Corp., (954) 691-2400 or www.roepnack.com

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