By: Glenn Wrobleski, Equipment Division Manager
For many sports enthusiasts football is considered the ultimate team sport. 11 players working together on every play to accomplish specific, well defined goals. Each play is a coordinated plan of action with each player assigned a specific task. In the end, it’s the best team that wins – not the side with the best individual player.
In concrete construction the job site could be considered a “field”. The work crew should be considered a team, and the foreman a team leader (quarterback?). Continue the analogy as far as you like. The point is teamwork is as important to a successful construction project as it is to the success of your favorite sports team.
Your construction crew needs to be working together as a cohesive unit with each member assigned specific jobs. The team must have a coordinated plan designed to accomplish specific, well-defined goals. It’s the responsibility of the foreman to communicate to the crew the details of the plan, the daily goals and to insure these goals are met. Each crew member must know exactly what their specific duties are. They must be instructed (“coached”) how to accomplish those tasks and how to use the required tools. And they must be motivated to perform beyond some minimal standard. As with sports, the better the motivation, the better the performance.
Done properly the result is as fun to watch as a perfectly executed football play. Each crew member doing their part, contributing to the larger effort, a perfectly executed construction project. As tasks are completed the next is started with smooth transition. No wasted time or energy. No standing by idle wondering what to do next. No 1-man tasks taking 2 or 3 workers to complete. You can recognize good teamwork on a construction site as easily as you see it on a football field. The results can be truly fantastic. Likewise poor teamwork is just as obvious and the results evident in the final analysis, whether measured by quality, time to completion, or bottom line profits.
How do crews develop the skills and teamwork needed to make construction of a segmental pavement system look like a 100 yard kick-off return? In keeping with the analogy it’s teaching (coaching), experience (practice), motivation, and keeping the team together as much as possible.
Teach the crew the techniques of proper and efficient construction while always seeking to learn new ones yourself. Make sure each member knows their responsibilities and what is expected from them. The team also benefits when each member knows the responsibilities of all other team members.
Practice team building concepts. Communicate with the team and encourage feedback. We can’t practice in the same sense that a sports team practices but there are times during a project that provide opportunities to experiment with new ideas, try new tools or new methods. Encourage ideas from every member of the team.
Motivate your crew. Challenge them by giving new duties or increased responsibility. Learn which members of the crew are potential leaders. If you want efficient work, provide the proper tools and instruction on how to use them. Reward the team for their efficiency and do your best to keep the team together. The best teams are the ones that have worked together for a long time. They know what each other needs and when they need it without saying a word.
And don’t forget to stand up and cheer when the team scores for you!!