Have you ever realized the opportunities you’re missing out on, possibly on a daily basis? If you don’t promote idea sharing and an environment of open communication, your crew is more likely to keep their mouths shut, even if they think of something that could help out. Around two years ago I started doing things a little different. I realized that for some tasks, the carpenters were more experienced at what we were doing in this phase of the job than I was. I started to ask them what they thought about our processes and sequences. At first, I wasn’t comfortable asking; I thought the crew might think lesser of me. Something in my head kept saying “they will think you’re inexperienced or lose confidence in you”. I persevered and pushed those thoughts further and further out of my head and started to realize what was happening. We were transforming into a cohesive team, evolving from a dictatorship only able to perform at my skill level alone into a production machine. It started out as a question here and there and eventually turned into an everyday conversation at the end of our shift that involved everyone. We would discuss that day’s work, what went right, what went wrong, and opened it up for improvement suggestions. I have been truly amazed on many occasions, the ideas that have come from these conversations. Some ideas sped our production by very noticeable rates, other ideas made our work safer and less strenuous. The open atmosphere also improved moral; everyone felt valued and as important as anyone else.
Long story short, involve everyone on the crew. Work at getting them to open up and really question their process, looking for continual improvements and prepare to be amazed!
Whether you’re a recently promoted, or a long time Foreman, one mistake that seems to be made often, is not separating yourself from the crew and the actual work.
I often find myself fighting the temptation to jump in with the crew and "go to work". Before you hop in to bail your crew out, you should really think about the repercussions of your actions. Is this the best use of your time? As the supervisor of the crew, you need to know your role. This means you’re responsible for more than just completing the work. You need to track schedules, budgets, and quality. It's impossible to do all these things if you’re pounding nails with your crew.
Next time you think about grabbing your tools and jumping in with your crew, ask yourself the following questions:
• Are we on schedule?
• Are we meeting budget?
• Have we done everything we can to prevent re-work?
• Does the crew have everything they need to complete today's tasks: layout, tools, equipment, material, manpower, and so forth?
• Have you planned the next list of tasks thoroughly: sequence, subcontractors, materials, and so forth?
Chances are, if you’ve answered no to any of these questions, you should not be using your time helping out the crew with their tasks. As supervisors we need to change our mindsets from craft-worker to business professionals. One of the most important things in the business mindset, is to distance yourself from the hands on work and look at the overall scope. Getting caught up in the work happening right now, only takes away from the planning and focus needed to set your crew up for success.
Do you know how much it costs you to to build a wall, pour a slab, or install embeds? Unfortunately, not many field hands do. In construction, it’s normal to hear supervisors say "we'll get it when we get it" and when asked how we're doing, the answer seems to be "if we're losing money, I'll let you know". Don't you want to see how you're doing to avoid budget over run? Many times, you may hear from people who track budgets closely, "Show me some numbers and i will beat them." This gives those individuals a goal; something that makes them grow. If you want to grow, than learn what it costs to construct. Start understanding budgets and the numbers. Are you a $3.46 unit cost on handset walls? Do you pour slabs for 0.60 SF, or is it 1.05 a SF?
How to get started:
How this process can help:
Let’s start simple! Try tracking yourself for a week. Ask yourself, " how much did I produce today?", now times that by your pay. What was your unit cost? How about your crews? Take the high average and times that by how many hours you worked today, then divide by how many pieces. Look at the numbers!
Let's see how good you are! Fill out the form above everyday for a week, add some progress photos and see if you're selected as the Constructorator "Budget Beater" winner will recive a Constructorator shirt and package of stickers.
To learn more click the link below for a digital book about budgets!
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