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Leading Your Construction Business At Ground Level

– Contributed content –

1 Nov. 2018. Many people might dream of being a CEO and leading a business. For a lot of the general public, this brings forth the image of someone in a suit, laying back with their feet on the desk. Perhaps even throw in some cigar smoking and you have your stereotypical image of what a leader of a company might look like. The reality is, this is far from the truth.

Leading a business is incredibly tiring, complex and a big weight on your shoulders. Not only are you hiring and firing workers to form the best team, you’re also maintaining and improving every aspect of the business. You may have a large team around you that are very qualified and just as motivated as you are, but in the end the buck stops at your door and your door alone.

The harsh reality of being a leader is, when you succeed the joy and praise is spread all around but when you fail, you realize the meaning of ‘it’s lonely at the top’. So you may be hesitant to fully take the reins and charge towards your goals. However you need to lead every aspect of your business on the ground, show your face and learn by doing.

You should choose supervisors

You as the leader of the business will choose who you subordinates are. However, this usually goes so far as to pick your executive employees who will be in the boardroom with you making the tough decisions. You’ll also be choosing who the heads of departments will be, again with the help from your boardroom as much debate about who should fill these positions will be had. And finally, you’ll choose the managers in those departments who will lead teams and for this you’ll involve the heads of departments too.

It’s quite common in business for managers to choose supervisors as they are in charge of controlling the team at ground level. The managers will report to the head of the department and the head will direct the managers on what they need to achieve as a department. The reason why managers often choose supervisors is because they are in full contact with the workers all the time, meaning they can use their knowledge of which worker is better skilled to then be a supervisor. The supervisor is formerly one of the workers and thus knows how to fix small issues that are day-to-day run of the mill issues for workers.

But this should be no more. If you are going to show all your employees that you are leading from the front and not just relying on what your subordinates have informed with. Sometimes workers don’t get along, and although someone might be better skilled and therefore chosen to be supervisor, they won’t command the respect of those they are supervising. This is why you need to be on the ground floor of your business, to spot when things don’t match up and make decisions that alter the decisions made by your chain of command. This keeps balance among your ranks and your employees see you are not locking yourself in your office but taking charge of even the small situations.

A logistical predicament

Manufacturing businesses are some of the most logistically dependent businesses in the world. You’re creating products from materials, first needing those materials to be shipped in and transported to your facility. Then when a product is being made it needs to go through the processes and handled by many different departments and workers. When the product is finished it needs to be stored, transported and distributed. Those are just the main things in a production line and product distribution. Already you can see that even if you’re not a business that relies on manufacturing, even if you have one of these things relevant to your business it can be exhausting to get it right.

For any reason, the way you operate will have to be changed. For example, it could be that your current warehouse is not enough and you have to build another right beside it to help your business keep up with demand. After all the debating and planning has been done, you’ll need to expand physically which means carrying out the logistics of the task at hand. It’s very easy to hire a company that offers commercial and industrial construction services. However before you do, ask yourself whether it would be best to buy your own equipment to help you with any kind of further expansions you require in the future?

Leading from the front can also mean, making new exciting choices with the aim of becoming sustainable in your own right. Rather than hire a company to do all of the logistical work after the main structures have already been built, hire people that work in this industry. You should then buy your own equipment and look for equipment like cranes for sale. Now with your own team, you can move around heavy objects freely without the need of outside assistance. With industrial vehicles like a mobile crane, you can lift incredibly heavy objects and move them.

This is undoubtedly useful for when you are expanding and large objects have to be moved to the construction site, or when you are storing something gigantic. It’s also a good way to load up your freight trucks and transport heavy equipment or products across the country. When you are making these kinds of innovative decisions, it shows all who work for you that you are willing to do what it takes to get the big problems solved and move ahead in your abilities as a business.

Materials for construction

Running a construction business is unlike a retail business yet it kind of operates in the same way to some degree. You are trying to sell a product and you need to keep your shelves stocked with the goods. Only for a construction business the shelves need to be stocked in your warehouse and they aren’t necessarily products but rather materials that make the products. For example, if you’re building houses you need a continual supply of bricks, mortar, cement, tiles for roofs, PVC plastic, wheelbarrows, mixers, wood, metals, nails, etc. Keeping on top of your need for materials is of the utmost importance. The responsibility to make sure there are always more than enough materials in your warehouse relies upon the warehouse manager.

Yet, the warehouse manager will need to continually be updated by project managers and the heads of departments for what kind of materials each construction project needs and or has used up. These two things will happen at the beginning and at the end of a project. For example, if you have been contracted to build a commercial office building, after the head of the design department has drawn up the final blueprints and the head of the construction department has weighed everything up, then the warehouse manager will be contacted for the materials.

In this kind of scenario, it’s normal to allow these three roles to interact freely and eventually come up with the final report before work begins. This report will be presented to you and you as the leader of the business will then sign off on it so work can go ahead at the site, and the client can be informed of this too. However, there are so many things that are being done in the meantime before you will be given the final report that, maybe you should show some leadership between then.

It should start with your design department. The materials needed will actually be decided at this point, not by the head of construction perse. Obviously if the design says that the structures in the walls must be made out of titanium and not steel, then it’s no good buying a lot of steel in preparation for construction. So you should continually visit the design department to see where your own style and leadership can be more effective.

Putting in some more legwork, you should be heading to the construction department and the warehouse to discuss the material choices and how they could be best used in the construction phase. You’ll also be hearing about new design techniques which could lead to more efficiencies and better material control. By listening and debating with your subordinates at ground level, you also increase your knowledge about the different departments and stages of the process. A nice boost to this would also be learning how to minimize your material waste.

Leadership cannot be sustained by sitting in your office and giving out orders. Let the guys see you take the reins and do some legwork all around your business. Talk to your subordinates while they are doing their tasks, learn what their problems are and how they can overcome them. Logistically, you should be running your own operation no matter how small it is. You’ll have much more control over your own warehouse storage, making you more flexible. By being at one with the daily tasks that workers on the production line in your manufacturing facility go through, you can better choose your supervisors and keep the rest of the workers happy.

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