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Blog/October 16, 2013

If You Want World Class Operations, Focus on the Foreman

What sets world-class contractors apart from average and struggling contractors? World-class contractors all have incredible talent at the foreman level. That is not to say company leadership, business strategy, project management, etc. is not important, but operations without great foremen always struggle to achieve anything but mediocrity.

With this in mind, there are nine universal truths that foremen and their companies need to remember:

  1. Foremen must know their trade. Everything else is built upon this foundation. A foreman must know how to install work (or supervise installation) correctly the first time.
  2. The entire organization must focus on making the foreman successful. Whether documented or not, world-class contractors operate with an inverted organizational chart, with foremen at the top.
  3. Foremen must care about performance. The minimum requirement to be a foreman is that he or she has to care. The tactical skills needed to be a foreman, such as planning site logistics, overall project planning, communicating internally and externally, motivating and inspiring crews, filling out paperwork, and such, can all be taught as long as the foreman cares to learn and apply them.
  4. Foremen must be involved in the pre-job planning process. Getting foremen involved in project planning prior to mobilization has a positive impact on productivity, profitability and overall project success. It is what allows them to be proactive rather than reactive; become project managers rather than project witnesses.
  5. Foremen must have buy-in and trust in the project labor budget. It should be everyone’s intent to have a labor budget that is realistic and achievable. Prior to beginning a scope of work, the foreman needs to spend enough time thinking about the project and the budget to make sure he or she believes it is achievable.
  6. Foremen must know the “score” on the project scoreboard, at least weekly. If the foreman does not know where a project stands or how it is performing, neither does anyone else. Foremen and their crews need to know how are they performing compared to the budget on a weekly basis.
  7. Foremen, given a specific scope of work, need to be able to create a plan and a shopping list for it. If a foreman’s supervision skills lines in insuring installation of work is correctly the first time, then whatever keeps him or her from doing that better be worthwhile,  like planning and communicating the plan to others.
  8. Foremen, on any specific day, need to be able to set production goals with a 50%/50% chance of being achieved. Given the job site conditions, who showed up in the morning, the individual skills of those people, where the material is located, if the area is ready for them, what scopes of work will be worked on, etc., a foreman should be able to talk with his crews and come up with a written  production goal.
  9. Foremen must respect the people working for them. The best foremen have tradespeople who would “take a bullet” for them. That does not come from being a pushover or from yelling and screaming — it comes from mutual respect.These nine universal truths, consistently employed, will insure that your company has world-class operations and will prove profitable again and again.

    To read this article in its entirety, please click on this link: http://hale.sg-host.com/media/pdf/quarterly/2013_3_world_class_operations.pdf

 

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