Do you remember the A-team? It was a popular TV series in the eighties, later made into a film in 2010. (Apologies to younger readers, who may not have seen the series, but it was good fun even though the plots got repetitious.). The series revolved around four Vietnam vets who sorted the bad guys out, helped those in need, and kept one step ahead of the law who didn’t approve of their methods. The most memorable character was Mr T, the mechanic who provided the muscle – he also incidentally wore lots of gold chains and had an interesting hair style. The group was led by Colonel Hannibal Smith who developed the plans and gave direction to the others. His favorite saying was “I love it when a plan comes together”. The 3rd member was Templeton Faceman Peck a suave organizer and con man who could organize anything. The 4th was Murdoch their crazy pilot.
All four characters had critical flaws and wouldn’t have been able to operate on their own, yet, when put together in a team they performed impossible missions – even though of course these were only on the TV screen.
"Four flawed characters working as a team achieved the impossible"
What can contractors learn from the A-team?
"The plan was communicated to the team ensuring they understood what was required from them and the timing."
"Understand the strengths and the weaknesses of those that work for you"
What are the essentials for the A-team on your construction project?
Well most would answer to have the best people. My answer is to have the best people for your project.
While we all like to work with the strongest employees this isn’t always possible, and anyway for some construction projects it’s inappropriate to use them.
One of my construction projects involved lots of demolition work. We couldn’t start demolishing follow-on sections until we had reinstated and rebuilt the previous one. This was a slow process. We had to work in multiple areas across the facility at the same time with each area requiring its own supervisor. The work was simple, but hazardous because it was in a live industrial facility which was noisy, messy and used a variety of dangerous chemicals. If I had allocated a senior concrete supervisor to each section they would have been frustrated with the slow pace of the works, and with no large volumes of concrete there would have been little job satisfaction for them. Senior supervisors would probably also have come with large teams of workers with inappropriate skills for the tasks.
I, therefore, allocated only one senior supervisor to the construction project. One I knew was patient and wouldn’t be frustrated or unhappy with doing the small portions of work. I also knew he would be willing to assist and train junior inexperienced supervisors. We allocated junior supervisors to the other areas of work. Many of these supervisors were newly promoted to the role, happy to work on their own little section, and only controlling a small team in a limited defined area. They also had a senior supervisor on the project who was willing to give them help and advice when required.
The construction project was a success because we had a happy team, despite the project not being the most rewarding in terms of constructing interesting and new structures. The new construction supervisors were learning and growing on the project and all of them later developed into fully-fledged supervisors, moving to bigger roles with larger teams on other construction projects. The senior supervisor had job satisfaction knowing he coached and mentored junior supervisors. The project was financially successful since junior supervisors earn considerably less than senior supervisors. Importantly the client was pleased because we had supervisors on each section of works and we achieved a good safety record.
"The right person for the project is not always the most experienced or qualified person."
Suitability of construction staff is also not just about the experience of a person. An important aspect on a large construction project, where there may be a number of supervisors and engineers, is that each person should be a team player, willing to share equipment, or to help out in other areas. I’ve sometimes had construction supervisors who thought they should have resources allocated full-time to their sections of work and take priority when materials arrived on the construction project. This can be costly and causes dissent with other staff.
On occasion a supervisor possibly will, due to the size and complexity of the construction project, have to report to a more senior supervisor. This might not suit some who have been used to working alone on smaller projects - again, causing problems. Individuals need to be adaptable when the situation requires.
Of course, individuals must be able to make a meaningful contribution to the construction project. It’s pointless placing an individual in a role they cannot fill. Don’t carry dead weight. Are you employing the right people on your construction project?
"You may have to adapt your plan to suit the players you have."
You may have to adapt your plan to suit the players you have.
Successful projects have the right team, a good plan, and communication
So having the A-team for your construction project doesn’t mean you have to have the very best individuals working for you, rather it means having the right individuals for your particular construction project - people that can work harmoniously together as a team, complimenting each other’s experience and knowledge. What you should consider when staffing your construction project.
"Without proper communication and direction the team won’t be the A-team"
Furthermore, without proper communication and direction the team won’t be the A-team, rather just a group of people performing tasks which may or may not lead to the desired goal. Successful construction demands good communication
More importantly the team needs a plan. A plan that ensures the construction project has the required resources on time.
Don’t you love it when a plan comes together, and a construction project is successfully completed?
This article was first published on the ClockShark website - Get The Industries' #1 Time-Tracking AppRunning a field service or construction business takes coordination and a great team. With ClockShark you get the industries' #1 timesheet app
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9/6/2020 06:49:38 pm
Absolutely spot on article! I have personally seen this in real life projects. Put together the best people who work best together! Thats a big difference from just assembling the best individuals. It takes a team.
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