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CONSTRUCTION KNOWLEDGE BLOG

December 23, 2010

The Importance of Managing Construction Labor
Filed under: Construction Superintendents — Tags: — nedpelger

Dereck Hench, the construction supervisor I generally work with, achieves amazing labor productivity on his jobs. I’ve watched him get better and better over the years. I’ve seen a few trends:

  1. He understands the work to be done and has the right materials, tools and equipment on hand.
  2. He expects high productivity while using humor to keep the mood light.
  3. When people on the jobsite act badly, he confronts them directly and forcefully…he yells at them.
  4. He helps others on the jobsite, even if it’s not in his scope, and builds tremendous teamwork and┬ácamaraderie.
  5. He addresses poor productivity of subs because it affects job costs and schedule.

Years ago I learned that normal construction productivity was way below optimum. I experienced the frustrations of wanting to do a good days work but not having the process in place to get that accomplished. As a flooring sub told me one time, “We have one rule. We never install any material that we don’t have.”

Matt Stevens, author of Managing a Construction Firm on just 24 Hours a Day, recently wrote an article for ContractorMag.com. ┬áTitled “The Most Important College Course not Taught“, Matt pushes for construction programs to teach classes about managing construction’s craft and labor. He writes:

The labor component of any construction project represents the largest opportunity to increase speed, lower cost, increase quality and improve safety. It is the line item on any job cost or profit/loss statement that determines meeting, beating or failing any project’s goals. However, it is not taught as a focused course in most college programs.

What I like about Matt’s writing is he understands that effectively managing construction labor requires understanding the trade as well as the people. Who do you know that’s great at managing construction labor? Terrible? Why? Please consider jotting down some comments below to share with others.

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