I am an avid cyclist and often use my bike for long weekend commutes to focus on business. I hit the road early Saturday morning just as the sun was coming up, driving through rural South Carolina, where the mind is comfortable. I think about AM King’s customers, our team members, and key subcontractors, thinking about how to make their teamwork easier. Recently I thought of a podcast to talk about how business is moving from “using people to create” to “using work to develop people.” This got me thinking about business development, and my personal motivation for people development.
As our workforce continues to grow, we are adding employees at all levels. During this period of growth, it is my responsibility to ensure that we continue to provide our clients with project delivery experiences that exceed expectations. We know that AM King clients expect their programs to be delivered by highly trained and qualified people.
One of my goals as a business leader is to help grow and develop employees who are of great value to the company and our customers. For this work to be successful, everyone must be involved in the work. Reflecting on my own business history, I decided to share some advice that I would give to my “young” self and others who want a long and happy working life with our company .
Don’t limit yourself
I have seen the importance of developing options earlier in my life. When my dreams of becoming a professional basketball player were dashed due to a serious ankle injury during my senior year at The Citadel, I had to choose a different path. It was a difficult time, but with perseverance it was achieved. I went on to become the first person in my family to graduate from college, earning a degree in civil engineering. It wasn’t the path in life I had originally chosen, but an unexpected change in my career path led to a new world of possibilities. Career paths are not set in stone. I encourage my team members to take advantage of our career options, and be different in thinking and learning. If you’re happy with your role or the way you feel now, that’s fine. But if you want to explore other aspects of the business, AM King is a company that fulfills those goals and opportunities. In many ways, the sky is the limit.
Strive to be the best you can be
Athletics has had a huge influence on my business mindset and the way I manage construction projects. In sports, you strive to be the best, only content with winning. My military position at The Citadel, which emphasizes duty, honor and loyalty, also influences my leadership style. In business, this translates into doing whatever it takes to do the best job possible. I have the same expectations for my members that I have for myself – to “obey the rules no matter what” and be willing to put in the work necessary to get the job done. I am proud to be associated with a company where “better” is part of our mission, providing an environment where people can set high expectations for growth and success.
I was fortunate to have a longtime mentor in the construction industry who brought out the best in me. He always pushed me to be better. He understood how to develop people to create value in business. One of his favorite techniques is setting business milestones as goals for me to exceed. You never know what kind of lasting impact a mentor can have on a mentee, or not. At AM King, our employee profile is diverse. I know that’s a good thing. Entry level, veteran, or in between, we can all benefit from each other’s knowledge and perspective.
Say what you mean and do what you say
Honesty is important to me and is the basis of my relationship. Delivering on promises is the key to developing great organizations. As an example, we have provided on-site services at GE’s Greenville campus – home of the world’s largest gas turbine plant – for over ten years. AM King’s local team offers 400 projects each year there, from $5,000 to $3 million and everything in between. For AM King to maintain its position as a trusted partner in providing integrated design, construction, property and facility services, we must always perform to the highest standards that GE expects. . Build your credibility to deliver on promises, and repeat business – and new business – will follow.
Have the confidence to inspire those around you
My job as a manager is to serve my team. I believe in building and developing employees like building a house or developing a client project. Top people are the key to this development, and company culture is the key to driving growth. Knowledgeable and forward-thinking employees are essential to a successful business. AM King’s president, Brian King, drives home the idea that you “always train your replacement.” At first, this was a foreign concept to me; however, I understand the benefit of this idea to me, the people around me, and the whole company. Teaching others to do what you do shows confidence in who you are as a person and develops trust in the team around you. This idea inspires you to always seek the next level of personal development. One of the most important leadership lessons I learned from my mentor is that when you delegate responsibility, you must delegate authority to manage.
These are exciting times for AM King in the Greenville area and in the United States. We are well positioned to attract exceptional talent to help us serve our ever-growing customer base in this area. AM King has an excellent professional development program – something that is appreciated by both new and long-term employees. When we encourage our employees to strengthen their career paths, the results speak for themselves. The ultimate outcome of job satisfaction is customer satisfaction.
For the author – Andre Harris is the business director in AM King’s Greenville, SC office. He manages complex projects and in-house service projects for industrial clients in the automotive, energy and aerospace industries.
This article originally appeared on the Feb. 2023 on the AM King website. Reprinted with permission.