I’m sure we have all employed someone, only to find later that they weren’t what we thought they were, that they couldn’t do the job, or they didn’t fit in with the team. How can we avoid this happening in the future?
Employing the wrong person can be costly. There’s the cost to terminate them and the cost to find and employ their replacement. But these costs could be minor compared to the damage that the wrong person can do to a project or company. We rely on our project managers and supervisors to deliver a quality project, safely, efficiently and on time. Failure can be expensive, costing the company money and reputation. In a few weeks huge damage can be done, but unfortunately, companies could take several months to act, to go through the termination process and find a replacement. A sad indictment is that sometimes companies don’t take action, and some of these poor-quality employees simply get transferred to other projects, where they continue to harm the company.
The hiring process
People are usually employed to replace someone who has left, or to fill a position on a new project. Unfortunately, these positions often have to be filled in a hurry, and construction companies, sometimes, have to make-do with literally the first (maybe only) candidate that walks through the door.
Frequently the hiring process isn’t done properly, and we end up with a person unsuitable for the role, or someone who is unhappy and leaves. In some cases, somebody more senior and expensive than is required is employed.
Often the main criteria for assessing the person are their skills and experience. However, construction companies and projects vary, and a suitable candidate for one project, or company, may not necessarily be the best for another.
Sometimes the task of finding and employing someone is left entirely to the HR department, who are given only the briefest description of what’s required. “I need 5 Supervisors yesterday.”
Regrettably, some companies base their hiring on whom they can afford. It’s not about the best candidate, rather about the cheapest. Construction is a people’s business. You can have the most expensive and best equipment, but if you don’t have the right people to operate and manage the equipment then it’s all for nothing. A good person can literally be worth their weight in gold. Of course just because a person earned a good salary with their previous employer doesn’t always mean they will be a good employee, or the right employee, for your project.
Who is the right person? 10 points to consider.
Here are 10 things that I think should be considered to determine if someone is the ‘right person’ to employ.
- They require knowledge and experience to perform the tasks expected of them. An experienced building Supervisor is possibly not best suited to supervise the construction of a road.
- They need to fit in with the culture of the company and must ascribe to the company’s values. It’s pointless for the company to set high standards for safety and quality, and then employ a Supervisor who is unconcerned with these values. They may have all the technical experience and knowledge for the position, but they will destroy the company’s reputation in no time.
- They should be willing to work in the regions and areas in which the company operates in. I’ve seen many personnel unhappy because they’ve had to relocate their family, or had to work in areas far from where they live. Yet, there are individuals who enjoy working in these regions, and others who are willing to relocate their families to remote areas.
- They must have aspirations which the company can satisfy. Everyone has different aspirations and not all companies can meet these. Failure to fulfill a person’s aspirations eventually results in them becoming unsatisfied and unhappy.
- Construction is a people business and everyone should be able to communicate and work with others.
- Construction requires teamwork, even more so on large projects. Each person should be a team player, willing to share equipment or to help out in other areas. I have sometimes had Supervisors who thought they should have equipment allocated full-time to their sections of work and that they should take priority when materials arrived on site.
- Be suited to the project. On occasion Project Managers or Supervisors possibly will, due to the size and complexity of the project, have to report to a more senior Project Manager or Supervisor. This might not suit some who have been used to working alone on smaller projects. Project Managers who have become used to working on larger projects, where they are able to delegate many tasks to support staff, may be unhappy to work on smaller projects where they have to carry out many of the more menial tasks themselves, without the support of a team.
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