The Crew Leader

Construction Tip submitted by Tech

Most construction companies organize their work force into “crews”. That is, individual groups of personnel, each tasked with specific duties. The size of the crew can vary widely depending on the particular task and the overall scope of the project. But, the common theme of any crew is that there will always be a “leader” and those who are led. The “leader” goes by various titles including foreman, chief, boss, the “lead” and, depending on their ability and/or relationship with the crew, other titles that may not be so appropriate for print! However, the title only signifies that that person is responsible for the activities of the crew.

It is imperative that the hierarchy of the group be understood by each member of the crew. As with any “team” activity” each member must recognize that their individual contribution to the success of the project is predicated on their acceptance of that hierarchy. The Crew Leader has the dual responsibility of insuring that each member of the team feels as if they are a part of that success and to bring the project to its ultimate conclusion.

The Crew Leader is usually the direct interface with the client as to day to day activities in the field. He will generally be responsible for providing updates and reports relative to his crew’s activities. This type of responsibility can be time consuming and divert attention away from the actual project activities of his crew. The Crew Leader should insure that his crew understands that he might appear at different times to be disinterested in their activities when in fact he is just “doing his part” to insure the success of the team. By the very nature of construction activity, the common mentality among most workers is all about competition. Who can be the fastest, strongest, etc. The Crew Leader will need to know his crew well enough to “channel” that competitive mentality towards production without making everyday a “competition”.

So, how does a Crew Leader keep his crew at peak capacity without “slave driving” them or letting their individual competitiveness supersede the overall goal of the team? Here are three tips:

  1. Get to know the individual members of your team. Talk to each on a one-to-one basis. Find out what motivates them. Discover what particular talent/ability they believe they bring to the table and show them how to leverage it towards the success of the project.
  2. Be available. I know that sounds simple but a Crew Leader can become so “busy” with his responsibilities that he can appear to not have time for the crew. In fact, in extreme cases, the Crew Leader may actually feel as if the project itself is too distracting and “gets in the way” of his reporting and/or other administrative duties.

Lead by example. This does not mean that every Crew Leader in every situation should be on the front line of the activity in the field. However, when it is appropriate to do so, the savvy Crew Leader will jump in and “get his hands dirty” not only to show solidarity to the team but, to show them that his “physical” contribution to the success of the project is available when needed.

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