Have you ever had to make a tough decision, one that could be life changing? I'm sure we have all been there. I have recently had to make a tough decision, and if there is one thing I learned it's don't overthink or second guess your final decision. You can take your time, break it down, pull a spreadsheet, and make sure you are covered. When you come up with a decision you feel confident about, go for it! Don't second guess yourself as it will only make it more stressful and confusing. I mean, in construction we make tough decisions all the time. In fact we make decisions where if we make the wrong one, it could be a loss of thousands and thousands of dollars or worse, a major safety incident. So, I started thinking even though this is a life changing event, it's no different than some of the decisions I make at work. I asked myself, how do I make tough decisions at work?
First: Break it all down, go through: risk vs. reward, cost analysis, schedule impacts, steps, etc.
Second: Having a plan B or backup plan is essential. (even though you always plan for success and not failure).
Third: Make a decision and be willing to stick with it if you truly believe it's the right one. You will do whatever it takes to make it successful.
Why wasn't I able to do the same with my current decision? One of the things that affected my decision was all the personal factors causing changes to my original decision. In turn, led to frustration, stress and uncertainty.
So a lessons learned for me is yes, it's ok to change your mind. However, once you have decided, don't second guess yourself. Instead embrace, enjoy and run with it. The decision might not be easy, but in the end, it's your decision.
What does the word empathy mean to you? Do you associate it with weakness? In the construction industry we tend to be "tough guys", or at least pretend to be. Empathy is the last thing on most of our minds during the work day, but what if it wasn't?
The simple definition of empathy is the feeling that you understand and share another person's experiences and emotions : the ability to share someone else's feelings. How on earth could this help a construction worker? Think about it, how many times a day do we find ourselves dealing with others in a one on one conversation? Have you ever stopped to think about how you are being perceived? How do you make others feel when you speak to them?
If you want the most out of your people you should strive to build them up not tear them down. How do you treat people, do you speak down to them or as equals? Remember we are all fighting the same enemy(budget and schedule), you are on the same team. The next time you have a conversation about re-work, slipping schedule, or any other topic that could cause you to get heated think about how you're coming across to the other person and what will the outcome be? It is perfectly fine to show emotion and to be upset, but how can your reaction help the situation? Can you learn from it, can you teach from it?
In the last blog post we talked about how to hit the ground running in a new supervisory role. I thought in this post we would dive a little deeper into a couple of the points we made.
It obviously starts with getting to know the team, but how much effort do you really put into this task? If you’re anything like me it’s easier said than done. I’m a bit of an introvert, so it takes me more effort than probably most people to really get to know the rest of the team. You should be looking to build relationships right off the bat, the quicker you gain trust in others and visa verse the more effective the team will be. Be sure to get to know the whole team, not just your superiors but also your subordinates. Depending on your role you should also look to build relationships with your vendors and suppliers. It is during this process of building relationships that you should be getting a good sense of strengths and weaknesses.
When thinking about our own strengths and weaknesses we really need to be completely honest with ourselves. We all know it’s almost a prerequisite in the construction industry to have an Alpha personality type, but don’t confuse confidence with a character flaw of being overly prideful. If we can’t admit we need help with anything we are destine for failure. We aren’t building alone, everyone one your team has something to offer. We as supervisors need to find out what that is to make sure we have the right people doing the right jobs, and that we have the support needed to overcome our own weaknesses. I have seen this over and over again, the supervisor who "knows it all", the guy who has the my way or the highway attitude. In this day and age that management style just doesn't work anymore. We also need our team to be open to constructive criticisms and weak spots in their fabric. Maybe you have a good communicator who isn't the best planner, if you pair them up with a good planner who isn't the best communicator you will have a stronger team. Just remember it all starts with honesty.
Moving into a new role as a Supervisor, or switching companies can be overwhelming. There is always that feeling of needing to “prove yourself” when entering unfamiliar territory, which can hamper your productivity by adding unnecessary pressure on yourself. We all know that we are the most effective only after we find our comfort zone and routine. We are going to look at how to hit the ground running and hit full efficiency as quickly as possible. Here is a checklist of the first things to look at when facing a new job as a Supervisor.
• Get to know the team – Who are the key players and contacts? Every leader has a right hand man, it shouldn't take long to find yours. Relationship building is key at any transitional period of your career; don't be afraid to show your human side. First impressions are hard to change, so think about how you want to be thought of during your first interactions with your new team.
• Know strengths and weaknesses for yourself and of your team – Play to everyone’s strengths, if someone on your team is better than you at some particular part of the job let them run with it. Don’t think you can do it all yourself; we all need help with some parts of the job. This will also help build the team, showing trust and delegating only helps show your leadership abilities.
• Scope – You need full comprehension of schedule and budgets. This should be on top of your priority list. The faster you have this understood the faster and more accurate your upfront planning will be. Find the holes in both, are they realistic? How much manpower will you need etc.
• Clear understanding of responsibilities - Make a list of all of the duties associated with the supervision and delegate them appropriately. This should be done in a formal meeting with all of the Supervisors, so there no confusion as to who is responsible for what.
These are a list of steps to take to fit into your new role as painlessly as possible, but every job is obviously different. The faster you hit your stride, the better off your crew and the job will be. Remember there is a reason you are the Supervisor, don't become intimidated with your new situation and focus your efforts on the most important parts of your duties early.
With so many new and exciting technologies for the construction industry It’s easy to get overwhelmed and seems like every time you turn around there is someone saying- hey have you heard about (___) or what we need is (___). So, how do you know which ones are right for you? It starts with questioning every process trying to finding the ones that are time consuming, costly or use excessive manpower. For me it has always been as-built’s, they should always be done, but typically never get done. Why? It’s time consuming or difficult due to jobsite conditions (material, height of floor to floor, lack of manpower) there could be numerous reasons as-builds don’t get done. Yet, what is the cost for repairs if they don’t get done. As-built’s tell the story of what happens before and after loading of the deck; did the camber come out as expected or not. If as-built’s are not done and don’t get noticed until the finish stages of the project where its almost impossible to go back and shoot the top and bottom to see who’s at fault, not to mention floor patching or grinding around finishes, it get’s costly. This is where new technologies come into play, so what if you could create as-built’s as well as FF/FL testing, with apps like Rithm, Scene, (https://rithm.io/ ) and a Farro scanner you can. Yes, it’s an investment with cost. So, if you only pour decks on a couple of jobs a year then it wouldn’t make sense to buy a scanner and the software, however if pouring slabs is your bread and butter than it would definitely be worth while. With so many new technologies out you don’t have to go crazy and buy every new at the same time don’t let the game changers slip past you.
Human nature is to fear the unknown, it is the path of least resistance to "stick to what we know". Don't get me wrong, we should strive to perfect what we do in our current roles weather it's carpentry, place and finish, layout, crew oversight, or project oversight. But if we get too comfortable in that role only, how are we going to advance? Our industry typically gives us little preparation and formal training to take the next step in our careers, few and far between are the leaders who separate themselves by learning the skills needed to advance. If you step up and take the initiative you will be noticed. We should all try to learn new technologies that will help us be more efficient.
How do you know what tools you need in the next role? If you aren't being mentored, you need to be vocal, ask what you need to be working on and learning, ask to be mentored, and or course ask us, Constructorator was built for this exact purpose! Reach out to us if you have questions we haven't answered in our existing content.
I can tell you first hand the labor shortage the industry has been predicting for the last few years is real and it's here. The opportunities are there, the whole country is in need of qualified field leaders. If the advancement you have your sights set on seems out of reach in your organization, I can almost guarantee someone is looking for a person with your skill set and ambition. This might be the hardest part, overcoming the fear of the unknowns in leaving your company. I know it can be scary, but how will you know how far your career can go if you limit it to your comfort zone within one organization? I'm not telling all of you to put your two weeks in tomorrow, but ask yourself if you're on the right path for your future career goals. We will never improve unless we push ourselves out of our comfort zone.
It’s hard for construction hands to find the time to keep up with what’s going on in the industry outside their company. With tough schedules, unknown hours, and limited training, how can they keep up with the latest in their field of work? With social media you can join, follow, and like specific groups to keep up on information that pertains to your industry, by only dedicating twenty minutes a day. So why is social media important for field hands to engage in?
Here are my top four reasons social media is important for field hands.
I know it's hard to find time, but I want you to be on top of your game! Don’t get left behind. I hate to see workers who are out there everyday, giving a hundred percent for the company, leaving no time for personal growth, and watching them get further and further behind. Do yourself a favor and start connecting now. Create a Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook account and get started today. If you’re just getting started, click the links below and connect with me. It's never too late to start!
Why do we make bad decisions? Because we make a mistake and repeat the process down the road thinking the outcome will be different. So how can we learn from our mistakes, avoiding bad decisions later on? If you want to learn and grow there is a powerful three letter word in construction, we should all be asking it's called "WHY", to help us learn from our mistakes. For example let's say you had a concrete pour that went ok, ask yourself:
Why was it just ok?
So after they did not show up, what decisions were made as far as schedule and the pour date?
By asking WHY you can see that the pour production was subpar. Because the finishers were not able to get the slab placed quickly with fresh concrete they had to work twice as hard to lay it down, because the carpenter crews were still placing rebar and fine grading the gravel, because the area was not turned over to them as scheduled because the dirt contractor did not finish on time because they were not on-site on the day they were supposed to begin the prep. So you can see one missed step cause a chain reaction of events to which caused the un-productive slab pour. If we focus on the problem at the first or second why we will never get to the route cause and will learn only half of our mistake. The problem is decisions, not being made right then, whether it's changing sequence of flow (maybe focusing on one area, a certain section so that one half was completely ready for the finishers when they show up, instead of nothing being ready and work needing to be done in all areas).
Once a schedule disruption happens, an action item needs to be implemented, it's like stacking concrete truck. You're trying to hurry and pump: old, dry concrete before time expires. However, this will cause a chain reaction with stacked trucks behind the one currently being placed, whereas if you remove one of the old trucks from the lineup the next truck will be fresher with more time to place out and so forth down the line, with remaining trucks. Flow is what we are trying to achieve to be productive and everytime there's a delay, well this disrupts the flow. So asking why allows us to find and learn from the route of the problem, as to not impact the remaining chain of events. Why is a powerful word if asked continually, will only help you learn and grow.
We need to change the term "construction worker" to creative constructer. We build awe-inspiring structures with advanced technologies, as such we should build our minds the same way: challenge our processes to create maximum efficiency on the job by asking, "is there a better way"? All it takes is one creative idea to simplify our process or procedures ultimately making your job simple and efficient. However, not all ideas need to be industry changers; it can be as simple as a new re-usable clip to attach edge-form or a different material to form footings, hangers for templates. One small idea can develop into limitless possibilities, this is where construction workers excel with crazy thinking!
It all starts with one crazy thought:
How can we develop a great idea?
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