3 keys to a productive jobsite

3 keys to running a productive construction jobsite.

If you ask most people how to improve construction productivity, they'll give you an answer about improving materials management or implementing work packaging. 

We take a different approach to productivity. We look at productivity being a people problem.

Today we're going to discuss the 3 keys to a productive jobsite and it's all about the people.

Construction productivity is a complicated topic.

Conventional wisdom is that productivity comes from executing on the fundamentals of a jobsite: scheduling, materials management, work packaging etc.

Those tactical approaches to construction productivity are important. They're necessary. But they're not the highest leverage activities. 

We're here to talk about what IS the highest leverage activities for construction productivity - the people side of a jobsite.

Why? Because all productivity improvement starts with people.

Construction productivity is first a foremost a people problem.

"People and their behaviors are what deliver results to your organization. Not systems. Not processes. Not computers. Not machines." - Mark Horstman

Great people working effectively in teams and following a great leader are an unstoppable force.

People are the drivers for extraordinary performance. People doing their work with effort and care can overcome a lack of tactical execution every day. 

On the other hand, the best planning systems have not chance if there's a poor effort from people.

So it all starts with people, because productivity is a people problem.


A Model for Productive Jobsites

The model we use for understanding the people side of productivity has three levels.

  1. Leaders that perform at a high level
  2. Teams that perform at a high level
  3. Individuals that perform at a high level

All three levels are critical and support each other.

Each person onsite plays a role in all three levels. The better everybody understands this model, and the more effective each level is, the more productive the project will be.

These traits are so important we've built a Frontline Supervisor Training program to help companies maximize their productivity.


Leaders that perform at a high level

The first key of a productive jobsite is leadership.

A leader's job is to improve performance of the team. If that wasn't the case, teams could self-manage and there would be no reason to have a leader.

That's why we believe site leadership teams are the number one driver for productivity. The leadership team on a project sets the tone for how a project is going to operate, what the expectations are and what decision making environment is.

There are three (3) key characteristics of leaders that perform at a high level:

  1. They get results. The reason that leaders exist is to achieve better results than the group could with another leader (or with no leader at all). 
  2. They retain their people. This means that they run a jobsite that people want to be a part of. People are clamoring to work there and current employees don't want to leave.
  3. The build a team of teams. The best leaders understand that a construction site is a dynamic place and that real performance comes from smaller individual teams.

Teams that perform at a high level

The second key to a productive jobsite are teams.

The atomic unit of performance is the team. These are small groups of people that work together to accomplish tasks each day. 

The best leaders work to identify the leaders of each team, set expectations and build trust. Then those leaders let their teams execute (within boundaries).

There are four (4) key characteristics of teams the perform at a high level:

  1. Teams go through a process. All teams go through a process of forming, storming, norming, and finally performing. The quicker a team can get to performing, the better.
  2. Teams have a leader. Each team must have a leader who is concerned with getting results, retaining people and building their own team of teams.
  3. Teams have a clear mission. Teams - not just the leader - understand what they're trying to accomplish and the boundaries they have to operate within.
  4. Teams are sized correctly. No leader can lead a team that is too large. Effective teams are built at a manageable size.

Individuals that perform at a high level

The third key to a productive jobsite are individuals.

Individual performance matters. The better the individuals are team players the better the team will be. 

There best team players have four (4) characteristics:

  1. They understand the mission. They know what the overall mission of the project and how their work fits into that mission.
  2. They know what team they're on. They feel part of a team. They know their leader and their teammates.
  3. They do what's good for the team. They act and make decisions that are to the benefit of the team.
  4. They do what's good for themselves. They act and make decision that are also to the benefit of themselves.

So when you're looking to improve productivity on a jobsite, put the schedule down, walk away from the budgets and start looking at your leaders, teams and individuals.

Best of luck and if you're looking for help on this, just contact us and we'll be in touch!


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