By John Kenney, Cotney Consulting Group.
In this three-part series, we will explore the essential skills needed to empower your front-line supervisors, which will yield more engaged crews, higher safety and quality, efficient projects, fulfilled clients and an increase in bottom-line profit.
Unfortunately, most companies do not effectively ensure that these supervisors have the education and training to become effective and efficient supervisors. A crew leader (foreman), superintendent or project manager is usually promoted to these supervisory positions by having good technical skills. But to be an effective supervisor, you must acquire essential management, leadership and administrative skills.
Your front-line supervisors are a vital link between senior management and the workforce. The crew leaders are crucial in managing productivity, quality and safety outcomes because they organize, oversee, direct and control the crew and workflows on the job site. To accomplish this, they must be effective communicators, build beneficial working relationships with the crew, management and other project stakeholders, be capable planners, be good decision-makers and be able problem solvers.
Unfortunately, you can not learn these skills on the job. Company leadership must determine the strengths and weaknesses of the skills in these areas and devise a plan to provide the skills training so they become effective members of your management team.
To be effective, the front-line supervisor must understand the organization's culture (core values) and climate. The culture influences the policies representing your company's operating and performance procedures. The employee's understanding of the procedures and their interpretation leads to the day-to-day work practices performed in the field.
In a roofing company, the crew leader is crucial in achieving project goals and objectives by effectively managing the crews. To accomplish this, the crew leader must have several essential skills and competencies.
Leadership is critical to success. Leadership must facilitate the execution of your company's strategy through alignment, winning interaction and expanding the capabilities of others. Developing these individuals boosts their ability to perform as leaders within your company. Leaders need to be competent and effective in specific fundamental fields: leadership, attributes and practices.
Some of the competencies required to lead people effectively are:
The best candidates for leaders are hungry for knowledge and are confident and decisive. They will take the initiative in being proactive and persistent and take charge in setting direction. They also need to influence others, build strong and lasting relationships and be understanding and supportive of others.
To successfully manage, a crew leader must communicate effectively, make decisions, give direction, set goals, provide feedback and recognize good performance. Crew leaders should use any of these approaches depending on the situation and their knowledge, skill or experience. They are either directing, delegating or discussing when interacting with direct reports, providing the necessary guidance and support to accomplish the workflow task.
Management focuses more on performance and production, which hinges on effective execution. Effective execution depends on senior management support and leadership to develop the skills of front-line managers and a motivated workforce. It would be best to celebrate the wins and learn from mistakes. All of which will create more excellent value for your customer.
Employees spend over three-quarters of their time in some form of social situation. Poor communication skills can lead to a great deal of liability for the company, especially for supervisors who do not communicate effectively. For crew leaders to function effectively, they must communicate effectively between employees, departments, and teams, as well as other levels of management. Communication is more complex than just telling someone something. Their message must be correctly expressed as well as understood.
Part two covers planning, directing, delegating, follow-up, expediting, problem-solving, decision-making, developing, coaching and employee engagement.
About John Kenney
John Kenney is the Chief Executive Officer at Cotney Consulting Group. Prior to starting Cotney, John had 45 years of experience in the construction industry. John began his career by working as a roofing apprentice at a family business in the Northeast. Because of his skill and hard work, he progressed from roofing laborer to foreman, estimator, chief estimator, Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer with his various companies. John has worked for multiple Top 100 Roofing Contractors and is intimately familiar with all aspects of roofing production, estimating, and operations. In his last role, John was responsible for the daily operations and performance of a large commercial roofing contractor. During his tenure, John ran business units associated with delivering excellent workmanship and unparalleled customer service while ensuring healthy net profits for his company.
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