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COTNEY CONSULTING GROUP John Kenney

Empower Your Field Leaders Roofing companies vary in size, as do the size and complexity of their projects. These projects may be under one hundred thousand dollars or multi-million dollars in size. In these various projects, the question is, “Who is the frontline supervisor?” Some organizations are structured to empower the project superintendent as the decision making person in the field. In this article, we are going to focus on the empowerment of the foreman and how their role impacts performance, crew management, work execution and generating your organization’s revenue and profit. The foreman manages the crew and it is at the crew level where the rubber meets the road; profits are made or lost. In leading your field teams, he dictates the way your work is put in place, affecting the outcomes of safety, quality, production and project obligations. The foreman is such a key player in the degree of success of the project; we need to teach them the skills to be fully empowered and successful. In most companies, the foreman’s role is to oversee a limited number of direct reports (the crew). Many times the foreman is required to do production work as a working foreman and may be expected to manage a large workforce, which may affect the capacity of the foreman’s management capabilities. We also expect them to get the crew to meet the production goals for that day and ensure that company policies and procedures are followed. They may only have limited authority or leeway to deviate from planned goals and objectives. These limiting factors placed on our foremen are an outcome of the organization’s structure and culture on how the foreman is chosen and trained. They are often selected from among the crews and are promoted to foreman positions solely based on their effectiveness and productivity of work. Most organizations, unfortunately, do not have a formal system or process for preparing people for the role of foreman. You have picked these craftspersons based on their technical skills. Still, for them to succeed, they need people skills, administrative skills, organizational, planning and communication skills as well as problem-solving skills and the ability to deal with conflicts. Most will struggle if they are not provided education and training in these areas. If your foreman struggles, they are going to impact the crew’s productivity adversely and, ultimately, the organization’s profitability. Every organization must create standard operating procedures (SOP), including capabilities for each position along with the chain of command. Once you have identified your people with the potential for the 40

FLORIDA ROOFING | October 2020

promotion, you need to analyze and identify their strengths and weaknesses. The next step is to assign them tasks that will provide them exposure to these areas and formulate an educational plan that will build up and strengthen their weak areas. This process not only benefits the individuals to ensure their success but, more importantly, it will improve productivity, efficiency, morale and the bottom line of your organization. Studies show there are hundreds of organizations in various construction industries that have not worked any additional hours but through efficiency increased the hours of productivity versus the total hours worked in daily shift. Typical results are a 10to-20 percent increase in productive output that was accomplished through frontline supervisory level training. The first step is selecting the right person for the supervisory role. To achieve this, your organization must set down the selection criteria for their supervisors going forward. Next, you must assess the strengths and weaknesses of your selected candidate and design a process where they receive the necessary education and training as well as coaching, counseling or mentoring as applicable. Additional organizational support will be required to ensure success with the empowerment process.

Conclusion

The money is made at the crew level and the foreman plays a crucial role in getting the most out of your crew’s performance. Field leaders manage hundreds of thousands of your company’s dollars, which can make or break a construction firm. For this reason, you should pay greater attention to who is promoted to the foreman level to ensure that they are the very best candidates under consideration. Roofing contractors that want to survive and thrive in the future have no choice but to invest heavily in their field leaders today. Training and development should not ever be about checking a box. It should be about actually doing, measuring and improving the knowledge and leadership skills required for the position. Do not look at frontline field leader development as a must-do task, but as a continuous journey of success.

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