Every construction company and each construction project has slightly different rules. What was acceptable on one project might not be accepted on the next. Discipline means not only complying with the rules of the project as well as the company rules, but it also means behaving within the acceptable norms of society. You and your crew are ambassadors of your company during working hours, while you’re wearing the company uniform, while on company business, and when using company vehicles. Poor behaviour will reflect badly on your company. Flouting the client’s project rules will impact your company’s reputation.
Discipline starts by understanding the company and the project rules. You can’t enforce rules if you don’t know or understand them. But of course, your crew must also know what rules apply to them, because they can’t be expected to comply with rules that they don’t know exist.
Why construction rules should be enforced
Construction project rules are often there to comply with local guidelines and permissions. Breaking these rules could result in problems for the client. Project rules are there to ensure the safety of everyone on the construction project. Project rules are there so that everyone on the project complies to the same standards.
Rules which aren’t enforced will soon be ignored. Most people will always stretch the boundaries. If you know the speed limits on the roads aren’t enforced you will invariably drive faster. Even when the speed is enforced we often try and sneak a few extra kilometres over the limit, hoping that traffic officers won’t bother to stop us for a few kilometres over the limit – or if they do it will only be to give us a warning. So it is, that if a person arrives 5 minutes late today and nothing is said to them, then they are probably going to come 6 minutes late tomorrow. If you don’t say anything others will also arrive late for work and very soon your entire crew will start work 5 minutes late, then 10 minutes, and then who knows how late before you take a stand and insist people start work at the correct time. But, when one rule isn’t enforced and workers are allowed to arrive 5 minutes late, they’ll soon test the boundaries somewhere else and other rules will be bent and broken. It might sound foolish to reprimand someone for being 5 minutes late, but at what stage will you say something, and which rules will you enforce.
Often there are multiple crews and a number of managers working on a construction project. Failing to enforce discipline with your crew could cause problems with other crews. Workers see what others can get away with, then try the same thing. When their manager reprimands them for the transgression they’re often resentful of their manager and can’t understand why another supervisor, foreman or project manager allows their team to bend or break project or company rules, but their manager is a hard arse, unfair, so and so, etc. Sometimes, people in your team go and work on another construction project with another manager. They can’t understand why that manager seems to have different rules to those that you applied when they worked for you. But, of course it’s usually not different rules, it’s simply that you didn’t apply some of the existing rules, that you accepted that some rules could be bent and broken. Consequently it’s unfair on the other managers in the company who have to instil and enforce the rules you don’t enforce. It’s also unfair on the workers who now don’t know what’s right and wrong, what’s acceptable and what’s not – it could even hamper their careers, or cause them to lose their jobs. Of course the same happens the other way, where you inherit workers who came from a manager who was slack and didn’t enforce discipline. It will make your job harder.
Maintaining discipline on your construction project
Discipline has to be enforced fairly, consistently and uniformly. You can’t ignore one worker’s transgression, maybe because they’re hard working, even indispensable to you, then reprimand and discipline another person for the same offence. Everyone in the crew must be treated equally. No matter your personal feelings, everyone must obey the project and company rules equally. Of course, that also includes you.
Discipline isn’t about yelling and cussing workers who break the rules. It’s about telling the person what they’ve done and that it’s unacceptable. In most cases, depending on the transgression, there’re stipulated company disciplinary procedures to be followed, and set forms of punishment.
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Copyright 2016 - The attached articles cannot be reproduced for commercial purposes without the consent of the author.
The opinions expressed in the attached articles are those of the writer. It should be noted that projects are varied and different laws and restrictions apply which depend on the location of the contractor and the project. It's important that the reader uses the supplied information taking cognisance of their particular circumstances. The writer assumes no responsibility or liability for any loss of any kind arising from the reader using the information or advice contained herein.
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