Have you ever been called or sent to take over a job that feels like you just jumped on board of a sinking ship? One that is either losing money, behind schedule or has quality issues? Then you need to try these three easy steps to help get it back on track quickly!
Clean The Job
More often than not an un-organized, messy job is usually behind schedule or poor on quality. If you want an efficient job, it needs to be clean and organized. By cleaning up the job, it not only makes it easier for the crews to work in and around so they can be more efficient, but it also shows progress and change. When you’re trying to change a job this will help with immediate results by changing the environment they work in from a messy, unsafe area to an area clear and free of materials and debris.
Supply Crews with the necessary: Materials, Tools, Equipment and Long Lead Items.
There is nothing more frustrating for a crew than to be waiting on information, tools, equipment or materials. The whole objective of a supervisor is to ensure all of this is taken care of before they even start work, clear a path for your crew to be successful. So don’t just look at the immediate needs, start looking ahead. Create a schedule with materials, tools and equipment needs for the activities. This will help ensure there will not be any hold ups.
Give them a reasonable objective to hit. If your behind and try giving them un-reachable goals, it will only add to the hate and discontent they have now. Start off with a couple of goals you know they can hit. Build up their confidence, then, start pushing once confidence is achieved. After that they will welcome a challenge and looking forward to what they can achieve now.
There could be many reasons a job starts going south, in order to fix the problem you need to first identify and remove the problem: this could be the wrong supervisor or foreman on the job or it could be a problem with the sequencing and logistics. Whatever it is, once you identify the problem and remove the cause, it is your responsibility to find a solution to get it back on track. The three listed above are just some general items to help you get the job organized.
Talk to the crews, contractors and sub contractors and get their opinion of why the job has not been performing like it should. Remember any feedback you receive can only help you identify the real problem so you can correct it.
What are the results of your hard work?
A result is a consequence, effect or outcome of something. So, if you had to analyze the results of all your hard work over the years, what would your result be?
So how can you build a name that will deliver results? There are three key factors to help build your name.
Reputation: the beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something.
Someone of strong character:
Integrity: Doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.
Honor: Fulfill an obligation or keep and agreement.
Strength: the emotional or mental qualities necessary in dealing with situations or events that are distressing or difficult.
Willpower: the power by which a person decides on and initiates action.
Credibility: the quality of being trusted and believed in.
The quickest way to lose credibility id taking credit for everything, being humble is critical to having people trust and believe in you.
If you want people to follow, you need to be well organized, have a plan, execute the plan, and take action when needed and above all help others be successful.
Performance: the action or process of carrying out or accomplishing an action, task, or function.
Try to follow through and execute everything on time and accurately. Make a list of everything you need to accomplish this week, when it needs to be done by and see if you can get it all mistake free.
Help implement the process and procedures your company has setup, and treat them like a living document: timely and accurately.
Showing up and just doing the job isn’t enough. Everyone on site is doing just that. You need to go above and beyond. Earn the reputation you want! Your results and your name will be remembered.
Here are three steps to help you be successful with your next task.
Start with Planning:
Last but not least is to review.
This is how we become successful.
I want to give a big thanks to this weeks Guest Blogger Nate McMillin, who gives us his perception of the importance of mentoring. A great read you don't want to miss!!!
When you think of a mentor, what comes to your mind? You might think of someone who is a teacher, leader, someone wise, or a parent perhaps? The definition of a mentor is: “An experienced or trusted advisor.” Mentoring can be empowering to a person. A mentor helps you hone your talent, abilities, and skills. They bring out the best within you. They inspire you to do better then you know how. Whether you’re a mentor, or a student you’ll get out what efforts you put in. Having a mentor can be a shortcut to success. As a mentor, you can rise by lifting others. Mentors don’t have all the answers but shares knowledge, and lights a path. A mentor can make or break you. It’s crucial to find the right mentors. Finding the right mentor can be easily acquired with some effort. If you surround yourself with people who are successful, then you’re on the right path.
Some of the mentors throughout my life have been my father, co-workers, supervisors, and friends. My father mentored, and molded me into who I am today. At work, co-workers mentored, and taught me how to hone my production, skill, resources, accuracy, quality, knowledge and strengths. Surrounding yourself with passionate and successful mentors who are willing to share knowledge, will help sharpen your skills. We’ve all found ourselves at work with the people who are at work to make a paycheck. Then there are those that are passionate. More then likely those individuals there to make a paycheck are in the same position, or are no longer employed. But the passionate individuals have moved up the ranks. Surrounding yourself with the passionate individuals, and having the right mentor is a great way to succeed.
One of the rules of heroes is they usually have a mentor to help shape and mold them. Instilling them with a strong moral code. For example, Spidermans “With great power comes great responsibility.” Mentors teach heroes how to become the hero they are destined to be. It’s the same principle in any trade. A mentor teaches you to become who you are destined to be. Mentors are used in many areas of life including goal setting, physical fitness, weight loss, stress relief, financial planning, marriage, and education to name a few. Mentoring is a great tool to be used in any industry whether its construction, a sport, and can be used in many aspects of life. Sharing knowledge and expertise as a tool is beneficial for individuals and corporations alike. That’s why the “Importance of mentoring” should be embraced and practiced, not just in life, but also in construction trades, to broaden our skills, and knowledge.
Learn More about Nate by Clicking the Link Below
How important is organization on your job site? Have you ever thought about what it costs to be unorganized? Most all of us could use some improvement in this area. More jobs than not are in some serious need of organization. However, it doesn't stop there. Not only should a job be clean and organized, but efficient as well. I mean, what good is it to hurry and strip footings and place them in nice neat stacks where a crane or forklift can't get to them until after the backfill is complete. Sometimes it's a simple as stacking the material on one side or the other of a footing that can make all the difference.
Take a look at the pictures below, If this was your job what would you change? Are there any you feel you wouldn't change?
Just some things to look for:
Do work areas look ready
Are there too many or not enough people working in the work areas
This is a broad subject, it could be anything from logistics of the job to paperwork on your desk. Each area of organization could be costing your job money, if it takes you an extra 5 minutes to find the drawings you need then another 5 extra minutes to find paperwork for one of your crew members. That time can add up and is completely preventable! It might sound like much to worry about, but think about the whole jobs wasted time. If your logistics aren't planned out and organized we start talking about real money wasted. The construction industry as a whole wastes millions in double handling materials.
How well organized are your crews with tools and materials? It might be time to re-think the job logistics.
Hopefully you are noticing a reoccurring theme with a lot of the Constructorator blog posts, we can’t stress enough the importance of the planning portion of your job. As a supervisor it’s your responsibility to plan for all activities your crew will be performing and your crew is responsible for executing the plan.
I am not trying to sound like a broken record, but it’s the most important part that gets overlook the most often. The continuous planning is the first task to be neglected when we are feeling pressure either from schedule challenges or overrunning budgets. We feel the need to “jump in and help” or we just get caught up in moving from one fire to the next.
The first step always is to create the plan - schedule, manpower, materials, logistics. That part takes some serious effort, but if you slack off on your planning you will pay the price later. After you plan the work it's time to execute and maintain the plan. The continuous planning and plan maintenance are often not given the attention needed. We all know that in construction with so many moving parts and prerequisite work that needs to be completed before the next trade can start, we need to be flexible. This means we need contingency in our planning, nothing will ever go exactly as planned we need to be ready for a breakdown in the plan and react to it accordingly. You should always be adjusting the plan, don't let the hard work of creating the plan go to waste when a hiccup occurs.
I have a lot of carpenter's asking me how much time and men do they have to complete a certain task. So in this week's blog post we want to look at starting simple to figure how many men and how many hours for a certain task. Take an activity like spot footings, in the picture below there are twelve spot footings highlighted that we are going to use as an example today.
First, find the estimated/budgeted Man Hours for spot footings. (460man-hours)
Next, schedule duration for this activity, in this example there is 7 working days to complete the spot footing activity.
Now, take man-hours and divide by days - 460/7= 65
So you have 65 man-hours a day for a seven day duration to complete the footings.
Then you want to determine your crew size based of your daily man-hours
First take the daily hours 65 and divide by the crew size you would like to have, let's try 10 men. 65/10=6.5 if you have ten guys to stay in budget you could only work on spot footings for 6.5 hours a day, if you have 10 men for 8 hours a day for 7 days.- your total man-hours would be 560 (100 hours over budget)
Let's try a crew size of 8.
65/8.1= 8 so you could have a crew of 8 for eight hours a day for seven days- your total man-hours would be 448 (12 hours under budget).
There are many factors that come into play when determining crew size and it's easy to get over-whelmed. You have to break apart each task, understand the job flow, sequencing and schedule. But if you start with one task and work all the way through it then move to the next task and so forth, you start to create the data needed for an average crew. Maybe you only need 8 on spot footings but 10 on walls and four on columns, after you know your crew size you can double back to the schedule and see if the sequencing works out where you can get away with a crew size of 14 because of all the trade work or down time in-between activities or on pour days. The more you practice the easier it becomes.
The important part is that you learn and understand hours/cost on every activity you are part of, and it's never to late to start. In the case that you are not shown the budget or hours by your Foreman or Supervisor click here for a MH/Unit form that you can start tracking yourself. You want to become great at what you do, so empower yourself to learn, grow and excel above those who don't want to share the information.
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?
After all the effort you put into the planning and sequencing, you put the plan into action and somehow the execution falls apart because something was out of sequence. Time, money and manpower was wasted because of a break in the link. If you’re a new foreman don’t overlook or dismiss it calling it, saying “that’s construction”, if you want to learn and grow get to the root of a problem by asking “WHY”.
For example, let's say you had a concrete pour that went ok, ask yourself:
Why was it just ok?
It took longer to pour out, then expected.
Why did it take longer than expected?
Because the finishers got behind; it took them a while to get the concrete placed.
Why were the finishers getting behind?
They concrete was stiff on the last half.
Because the trucks were starting to back up and the concrete was getting old.
Because we were still working on the slab prep (rebar placement, recess areas etc..) in the morning, while the pour was going on, which caused the finishers to wait on us at times.
Why were you still working on slab prep?
Because the area was not turned over until 3:00pm the night before.
Why was the area turned over late?
Because the dirt contractor was behind schedule.
Why were they behind schedule?
because he did not show up on Tuesday.
Why did they not show up, did someone forget to call them?
No, they were scheduled but decided another job was more important.
So after they were a no show what decisions were made as far as schedule and the pour date?
We had to make the pour, so we waited for them to show up the next day and went back to normal, just trying to get it done.
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 concrete trucks stacking during a big slab pour, 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.
Flow is what we are trying to achieve to be productive. Every time there's a delay, well this disrupts the flow. So asking why allows us to find and get to the root of the problem. Why is a powerful word if asked continually it will only help you learn and grow.
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.
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