The construction foreman, if positioned and supported properly, should be one of the most important and critical leaders to achieving success for your construction projects.
Let me share with you what good construction foremen have demonstrated over the years. See how many match up with your construction foremen.
1. They seek work plans early
The best foremen I’ve witnessed over the years are those who regularly ask for their next project's file. They want to get a head start in reviewing plans, locations, job profile information on the customer, surrounding challenges etc. Receiving the project information on the day they are to start not only angers the best foremen I’ve known but leads to more quality, safety and morale problems.
2. They study project plans and ask questions
The best foremen I’ve witnessed never fake it. They have learned, some the hard way, that waiting until you are on the jobsite is not the time to be asking questions that might have changed how you prepared, what equipment you would have brought, or even what workers you would have taken.
Briefly, the foremen want to study their plans, review their detail list of needed tools, equipment, materials, and to identify early who are the other contractors involved on the project.
3. They follow proven methods consistently
The best foremen I’ve witnessed don’t “experiment” without a prior reason and discussion to do so. “Proven Methods” best represent a company’s Standard Operating Procedures, or SOPs.
For the smart contractor who has taken the time and pain to develop written SOPs, the foremen will find, if they follow them, greater achievement than those sorry “bloats” that have none to follow.
Fact: Contractors who have written SOPs, and who follow them, increase their productivity, foremen pay, project quality, and most importantly, make going home every day healthy and unhurt a 100% guarantee.
4. They update their leaders regularly
The best foremen I’ve witnessed simply keep their leaders updated on a regular basis. They are transparent and realize that their leader, if updated, is better prepared to answer questions from the customer when caught off guard, and, provide greater insights and consulting back to the foreman that can help the job process improve.
I’ve witnessed the best foreman calling their leader once a day, twice a day, even every few hours depending on the project and how “risky” the project. The best foremen I’ve witness do not work in a vacuum…nor do they want to!
5. They prepare and organize every day
The best foremen I’ve witnessed prepare each new project, and each new day, as if it were the first time they led a project. There is a reason great athletes, and great teams, practice warm-ups and basic drills, daily, prior to entering the more intellectual part of their preparation for their next opponent.
The best foremen I’ve witnessed do this every day. This can include ensuring that every truck and trailer is packed with all the needed tools, equipment, components, etc.
This moves forward by doing a daily walk-about their jobsite, upon arrival, to ensure that no safety risks exist, and that overnight “project demons” have not changed or damaged the previous day’s effort.
6. They prepare their crews on who, what and how much
The best foremen I’ve witnessed consistently communicate with their crews who is assigned to what action and efforts. They also communicate what the needs of the project are that day…do we need to do some extra housekeeping, do we need to start tearing down, cleaning, and stacking the forms, etc.
And, the best foremen I’ve witnessed always discuss “how much” needs to be accomplished by lunch or the end of the day. This sets daily goals and gives the crew something tangible they can strive to achieve.
7. They hold crew members and themselves accountable
The best foremen I’ve witnessed realize that accountability moves through all workers, including themselves. They do not look for easy passes by their senior leaders, realizing that their senior leader is also held accountable.
The best foremen I’ve witnessed hold their own workers accountable by ensuring the timely arrival to work, proper use of time during the day is followed, and that no one quits for the day too early and not before there is some level of housekeeping completed. When the worker fails in their duty, they are spoken to first, reprimanded on a second incident, perhaps disciplined on a third offense, and even terminated on a fourth.
Most good and worthy employees get the message after the first or second corrective action taken by the foreman. For those who don’t connect the dots until the fourth incident, it’s often best to let them go before they infect their form of work ethic into other company employees.
8. They embrace and use their authority wisely and respectfully
The best foremen I’ve witnessed have authority, given to them by their senior leaders, to use as needed to get jobs ready, executed and cleaned-up so they can move to the next project.
The best foremen I’ve witnessed realize that having such authority is precious and should not be squandered by smarting off to their leaders, cussing out their workers and telling their customers to “take a hike.” It is a privilege to be entrusted with the authority to make a project successful.
The best foremen I’ve witnessed realize this and feel empowered to lead, with pride, their workers to be the best crew possible in completing work, win the trust of their customers, and continued faith in them by their senior leaders.
It is an honor to be a leader. The best foremen I’ve witnessed believe this and realize that their work efforts, and results, influence their pay, their level of trust and respect among senior leaders and the owner, and, has the most influence for their own promotion to higher levels of responsibility, if that’s their goal.
What do foremen really do? I think a lot, personally. Show me a great foreman and I’ll show you a leader who trains their followers, spends more time with new employees and those who are challenging the SOPs or the company’s requirements, and finally, who takes pride in being a leader.
Be the foreman who strives for excellence. Pay no attention to other foremen who make fun of your preparation and organizational habits, knowing that you will be rewarded and they may find themselves doing what they do best…for another contractor.