Vermont’s aging population means that 35% of Vermonters are over 50 years old, and 20% are over 65 years of age (see “Vermont May Be the Face of a Long-Term U.S. Labor Shortage,” NY Times Nov. 12, 2023 ).
While this means a lot of wisdom in our tiny state, it also means a lot of work for an outmatched population of contractors, tradesmen, and construction professionals. So much so that Governor Scott has recently announced cash incentives to attract new workers in the skilled trades (see “Help wanted: Lawmakers, Scott administration try to tackle shortage of plumbers, electricians” VT Public, Oct. 23, 2023 ).
But there’s more we can do than just attract new contractors. We can keep the contractors we have by treating them with respect, dignity, and appreciation.
Here’s how “Not” to treat a contractor
Trying To Monopolize All Of Their Time
Contractors have a job to do, and it doesn’t involve talking with homeowners! In fact, approaching contractors to talk (even if well intentioned) slows them down, decreases safety, and increases the overall cost of the job.
Please respect contractors by staying away from their work area so they can do their jobs!
Complaining A Lot
Contractors are human and sometimes make mistakes. But giving them personal, sporadic feedback rather than sending considerate and factual feedback to your board is a mistake that can do more harm than good.
Please share constructive feedback by directing it to your board by sending us a message.
Being Over Zealous About Your Beliefs
Your board (and not contractors) sets the scope of service for projects and repairs by considering the impact of both your association budget and governing documents. The time for feedback is at meetings — not when you see work happening that doesn’t satisfy your personal standards.
Please remember that being part of a community means that you need to accept the authority of leadership decisions — even if you personally disagree.
Using Vulgar Language
Some people don’t really want to talk to contractors. Instead, they choose to shout, scream, or merely mutter profane language in the general direction of contractors as if meanness were a form of sport.
Keep in mind that contractors may look tough, but they are human, too, and harsh words can’t be taken back and are damaging. Please find other ways to destress when things aren’t going your way, and spare contractors from hearing your unkind words.
If there’s one attitude that hurts our relationships with contractors the most it is micromanagement. Because constantly hovering over contractors, questioning their every move, or second-guessing their decisions can be demoralizing and counterproductive.
Trusting contractors to do their job without constant interference fosters a more positive working environment.
The golden rule …
In summary, maintaining a respectful and professional attitude towards contractors is key to fostering successful working relationships. It’s the golden rule: by avoiding rudeness and treating contractors with the same level of courtesy and professionalism we expect in return, we can cultivate positive partnerships that benefit everyone involved.