New Foreman Training
My client had not previously conducted any type of formal supervisory training for his current field foreman. In effect, the foreman was “flying blind,” not knowing exactly what was expected of him. The client knew assistance was necessary to help train this new project foreman and to assure that the “fit” would be a good one with the company in terms of communication, organization, coordination, and relationships with both the project team and the Owner’s Representative.
We met to discuss my field supervisor training approach, and he liked what he heard.
When I undertake a new assignment, my first day is for observation. Although I spent the entire day on-site with the foreman, I was – for all practical purposes – only a silent bystander. I made no suggestions, and I didn’t initially offer any feedback or suggestions. I simply watched him in action, hoping that my presence was not intimidating, and took note of the way he dealt with crew members to analyze his leadership abilities and understand his methods… READ MORE
During this period, I worked to counsel him on more effective methods of interaction with his team, so there would be no room for misunderstanding of project goals. I urged him to move beyond his “comfort zone,” and asked him to concentrate on building one-on-one relationships with his team. Together, we made certain that team members understood how – and why – he wanted the operations to run in a specific way.
As my student progressed, his confidence began to build. He became much more “in tune” with his project team. The difference was obvious, and the result was an improvement in the team’s overall performance, and individual team members developed a new respect for their foreman.
I also was tasked to work with this particular foreman on his relationship with the Owner’s Representative. Again, that involved tackling similar topics: communication, coordination, and organization. Again, this foreman was initially shy, reserved, and quiet. I helped him realize that he already possessed the necessary abilities to perform well, and I encouraged him to set a higher standard for himself. I taught him how to rely on his knowledge and abilities, and how to express that confidence when dealing with superiors as well as subordinates.
In short, I helped him see that he was on a path to success.
He continued to improve, in terms of abilities and confidence, and he was able to develop an excellent relationship with the owner, using daily communication to keep information flowing about the project’s progress. As the foreman grew more confident, I spent additional hours with him, teaching him how to effectively elicit the full cooperation of his project team, and outlining new ways he might motivate individuals to higher levels of achievement. My goal was to encourage him to recognize that setting the bar higher would result in a crew that performed at a correspondingly high level.
We focused on his goal-setting techniques and used follow-up recognition to strengthen the bonds he had forged with his crew. I was convinced that he had never truly recognized the effort and commitment of his team. For their part, they were thrilled to finally receive his commendation for a job well done, and that provided new motivation, spurring them on to even greater achievement.
Following the completion of his training with me, this previously under-performing foreman was eager to let me know that he had gained a new sense of self-confidence and that he felt he had found “hidden talents and abilities” that he had never believed he possessed.
This is a success story, to be sure, not for me alone, but for a man who one year later received a promotion to Project Superintendent. His crews continue to perform consistently exemplary work. I am pleased to say that I am now working with him once again, to help him grow into the general superintendent’s role that is in his future.
Field operations support
When I was hired by a new client, there were multiple ongoing projects with limited field supervision. Project supervisors appeared overwhelmed, and project problems were a source of concern for management. The stated goal was for me to help project teams become better organized and to coordinate policies to prevent greater problems in the future.
To achieve this goal, we focused on direct, ongoing communication between the teams, and reevaluated crew placements based on the complexity of specific projects and to capitalize on overall leadership skills and field supervisory abilities. I worked directly with both the field supervisors and the management team to improve their daily planning and productivity focus.
Because I am a firm believer in direct communication and interaction, I tried to instruct, promote, and enhance those efforts with third-party representatives to improve the weekly activity schedules. We involved each project foreman and we instituted in-depth and detailed evaluation procedures to find workable methods that would result in steady improvement… READ MORE
In addition, we established production and performance goals, and we set recognition benchmarks for jobs well done. I have learned over the years that almost all workers thrive on success and that recognizing those successes is vital, even when they represent seemingly small improvements. Those small achievements lead inevitably to greater success. Within a relatively short time frame, all the projects this client had underway were firing on all cylinders, with field operations back on track.
The company continues to perform at an extremely high level of success, and I am happy to say that all team players have embraced the concept of the relentless pursuit of “Continuous Improvement.
Field triage of dysfunctional project teams
I was originally hired to analyze a client’s current field operations at the project site. It was a highly complex project with many “moving parts.” In addition to the overall magnitude of the project itself, the main subcontractor was performing below par and was extremely difficult to deal with. My initial contract commitment was four weeks. At the end of that period, my assessment of the situation was, to be blunt, that the various subcontractors representing necessary project disciplines were simply not playing nice in the same sandbox. They resisted working together, and animosities continued to grow among the various players.I shared my assessment with the client and presented my thoughts about ways to bring the project team together. I was subsequently hired for six months to help the project team overcome the challenges that I had identified… READ MORE
As an effective secondary tactic, I brought the main team players together consistently to brainstorm possible areas of improvement. We pursued ideas and methods about how to work together more effectively as a team, and I encouraged the field leadership to pursue, suggest, and evaluate changes across the board that would lead to continuous improvement.
This set everyone up to succeed. What I term the “Relentless Pursuit of Excellence” became the project mantra, and the entire team adopted this theme, implementing distinctive strategies throughout the hierarchy of the various teams and disciplines. It is an approach that I have used in countless field encounters to foster increased productivity. Daily scheduling and complete coordination are necessary, but when team members can see those performance goals are regularly met and that such achievement leads to enthusiasm for the work and camaraderie among individuals, the idea of a united project team becomes a reality.
As the entire team began to unite in pursuit of a single goal, and the result was obvious – it was at this point in the journey that the team began to truly believe in what they could accomplish together. That was the turning point!
Difficult production goals and aggressive schedule completion dates, which were once perceived as impossible, became doable. The project team began to believe that they could accomplish whatever was demanded of them, by working together as a single cohesive unit. As an example: a major shutdown and intersection rebuild – once termed a “never going to happen” idea – was planned and executed in record time by the members of the revitalized and highly-motivated team.
The successful completion of the project was solely attributable to the relentless pursuit of “Absolute Teamwork,” one of the key Morelock Motivational concepts. Being part of this project team remains one of my favorite memories.
Executive team coaching
I was hired by a growing construction company to assist the executive team to overcome the myriad of challenges they faced due to an aggressive growth track. Essentially, it constituted a “good problem,” but the accelerated growth profile, combined with the need to successfully bid and manage additional projects in the pipeline, added to the complexity of the growth process. The executive team was determined to continue on the track they had established for expansion.
I was hired to help evaluate the problems, develop ways to meet the challenges, and successfully plan to meet the desired growth potential. Over several weeks, we held multiple brainstorming sessions to evaluate, assess and understand potential problems they might encounter
We developed detailed operational procedures to address each possible scenario, and we established “attack plans” that could be used to deal with each problem. The goal was to build a solid foundation for action, using a variety of new approaches… READ MORE
In addition, the executive team brainstormed new and innovative approaches by establishing weekly focus points and concentrating on continuous improvement in all areas of company operations and structure. We addressed team building and development plans and procedures and formulated guidelines for implementation at desirable points along the company’s growth timeline.
I was honored to have the opportunity to be a part of the process, and I am encouraged by the “Relentless Pursuit of Excellence” that our work together set in motion. The company continues to grow as an organization, and I do not doubt that the groundwork laid during our time together will continue to benefit the company in years to come as its growth spiral continues.
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