Over the last 2 weeks I’ve discussed the importance of retaining and employing skilled good people in construction. Read: ‘How do we retain skilled employees in construction?’ And ‘Retaining skilled people in construction – part 2’
However, often we have to employ new people to replace someone who has left or to fill a position on a new project. Frequently this 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 we may even employ someone more senior and expensive than is required.
Unfortunately these positions often have to be filled in a hurry and construction companies sometimes have to make-do with literally the first candidate that walks through the door. Often the main criteria for assessing the person are their skills and experience. However, construction companies and projects vary, and a good 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.”
Employing the right person
So here are some things that I think should be considered to determine if someone is the ‘right person’ to employ for your construction project and company.
1. 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.)
2. 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 experience and knowledge for the position, but they will destroy the company’s reputation in no time.)
3. 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.)
4. They must have aspirations which the company can satisfy. (Everyone has different aspirations and not all companies can meet these. Failure to fulfil a person’s aspirations eventually results in them becoming unsatisfied and unhappy.)
5. Construction is a people business and everyone should be able to communicate and work with others.
6. An important aspect on a large project, where there may be a number of Supervisors and Engineers, is that each person should be a team player, willing to share plant and equipment, or to help out in other areas. I have sometimes had Supervisors who thought they should have plant and equipment allocated full-time to their sections of work, that they should take priority when materials arrived on site.
7. 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.
8. 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 tasks themselves without the support of a team.
9. Some roles don’t require the best or most experienced Supervisor or Project Manager. In fact, often more experienced people can become bored or unhappy working on what they consider is a more mundane project. These projects could be better suited to more junior individuals, who may cost less, yet will revel in the opportunity to learn and grow on these projects.
10. Hopefully you are employing someone for the longer term – beyond the current project requirements. In this case it may be prudent to consider how they will fit into the company’s future. Will they fill the intended future roles you have in mind, or will they become a liability later?
Of course you are probably unlikely to find the perfect candidate so you’ll probably have to compromise somewhere. Skills are probably easier to add to, but personalities can be hard to change.
To learn more read; ‘What does it take to manage a construction project?’
Is there someone else?
Of course before employing someone to fill a position it may be pertinent to consider the following:
1. Is there someone already in the company who could fill the role? This person could be in another division – I have seen some companies where one division is employing people while another division is letting people go.
2. Is there someone who could fill the roll who will be released shortly from another project? Sometimes it may be necessary to juggle people around to release the person sooner.
3. Is there someone in the company who could be trained to fill the position?
4. If the role is for a short period only it may be better to employ a person on a limited contract only, or outsource the job.
Construction companies are always under pressure to cut costs and keep staff to the minimum. This is often exacerbated by the cyclical nature of the construction business which can go from ‘boom’ to ‘bust’ almost overnight. Despite this it makes sense for construction companies to have training programs to develop their staff to fill roles in the future. People will leave. Companies will obtain new projects. To always think that you will then, at short notice, be able to find just the ‘right person’ is short-sighted. In fact I have often seen that companies don’t find the ‘right person’. They end up employing the ‘wrong person’, which often leads to costly problems on the project, and even impacts the company’s reputation.
What do you consider when you’re searching for someone to fill a roll?
What experience have you had when the ‘wrong person’ was employed?
Thank you for reading this article. If you found it useful please ‘like’ or share it so others in your network can read it. Please add your comments so we can learn from your experiences.
Other similar articles by the author:
How poor productivity impacts projects
Understanding what impacts your construction company’s reputation.
Why should we take construction safety seriously?
(Written by Paul Netscher the author of the acclaimed books ‘Successful Construction Project Management: The Practical Guide’ and ‘Building a Successful Construction Company: The Practical Guide’. Both books are available in paperback and e-book from Amazon and other retail outlets. This article is adapted from information included in these books.)
© 2015 This article is not to be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission from the author.
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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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