Empower Your Field Leaders
Roofing companies vary in size, as do the size and complexity of their projects. These projects may be under a hundred thousand dollars or multi-million dollars in size. In these various organizations, the question is who the frontline supervisor is? 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 their role’s impact on 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, they dictate 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 foreman 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 a standard operating procedure (SOP’s), including capabilities for each position along with the chain of command; once you have identified your people with the potential for the 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 increased the hours of productivity versus the total hours worked in daily shift through efficiency. The results are a 10 to 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/training as well as coaching, counseling, or mentoring as applicable. Additional organizational support will be required to ensure success with the empowerment process.
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 companies 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 this position. Do not look at frontline field leader development as a must-do task, but as a continuous journey of success.
John Kenney has over 45 years’ experience in the roofing industry. John started his career by working as a roofing apprentice at a family business in the Northeast to operating multiple Top 100 Roofing Contractors. As Chief Operating Officer, John is intimately familiar with all aspects of roofing production, estimating, and operations. During his tenure in the Industry, John ran business units associated with delivering great workmanship and unparalleled customer service while ensuring strong net profits for his company prior to joining Cotney Consulting Group. If you would like any further information on this or another subject, you can contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org.