BlogInfluence: How a Foreman Can Make or Break a Job
By Construct-Ed Inc.
Foremen are the backbone of every job site. They orchestrate the operational flow of tools, supplies, and crew members to task. The bottom line: complete the job on time, under budget, to specifications, and without injuries. Foremen who can achieve this are making a significant contribution to the success of their organizations.
Managing people is often lost on the faint of heart; it is not an easy task. It demands a foreman exert deliberate influence over and meaningful involvement in the lives of the individuals that they have the responsibility of calling their crew.
Influence is a critical component of every leader’s character and foremen are no exception. A foreman’s ability to impact their crewmembers’ attitudes, work ethic, and overall quality of workmanship is crucial to the success of the job and all future jobs. The investment in crew members must be given deep thought. It cannot be ignored.
Foremen must shift their thoughts from “What must I do to prompt this crewmember to complete their work on time?” toward “How can I interact with this crewmember to not only achieve the task at hand but also motivate them to want to?” The influence must compel the crewmember significantly enough to have a profound impact on work habits. The achievement of the latter starts with a foundational understanding of the type of crewmember being mentored.
The crewmember type analysis explained in the following paragraphs is heavily inspired by Col. Dandridge M. Malone, USA (Ret). He wrote a book titled Small Unit Leadership: A Commonsense Approach where he quite extensively assessed how the combination of skill, will, and teamwork drastically changes battlefield dynamics. One formula he uses to assess individual performance is, “The Soldier’s skill in performing tasks critical to success on the battlefield x his will to learn and put that skill to work = THE PREFORMANCE OF THE INDIVIDUAL SOLDIER.” The analysis below will be much broader in scope but correlatively similar regarding how foreman can analyze their own crewmembers.
Four Types of Crew Members:
There are four types of crewmembers: The Professional, The Arrogant Expert, The Trainee, The Careless Laborer. These four quadrants divide every crewmember by his or her technical ability and will. Technical ability is defined as one’s work-related skills and experience required for any job. Will is defined as one’s personal desire and motivation to achieve an outcome.
The Professional: This individual possesses the technical expertise and will to complete the job at hand. They are always on time, typically stay late, and never compromise on quality of craftsmanship due to their many years of experience and high moral character. They do not take shortcuts.
The Arrogant Expert: This individual possesses technical expertise but lacks the will to complete the job at hand. Like The Professional, they never compromise on quality of craftsmanship due to their high level of experience. They know exactly what needs to be done and possess the knowledge to complete it. They are sometimes late to work, typically leave as soon as the day’s work is completed, and often have poor relationships with other crew members.
The Trainee: This individual possesses the will to complete the job at hand but lacks the technical expertise required. They are always on time and demonstrate a drive to contribute to the team in any way they can. They are typically young high school graduates who simply have very little or no technical knowledge due to the minimal work experience they’ve gathered thus far.
The Careless Laborer: This individual possesses neither the technical expertise nor the will to complete the job at hand. They care little about improving their knowledge of any particular task and even less about the job in which they are employed. They often show up late and sometimes leave the job early. They are typically a moment’s notice away from quitting.
Interacting with each one of these individuals presents its own set of unique challenges. The influence a foreman exerts on each type of crewmember must be tailored. It must praise the best traits and compel improvement of the worst. This requires a relationship. And a relationship requires trust. Relationships are like investments; they will yield tremendous returns if you nurture them properly. During this process, the foreman must learn deeply about his or her team. The foreman will discover what personally motivates each of his crewmembers.
It is of upmost importance for a foreman to understand that this process of influence cannot come at the expense of the job. It must work in tandem with the job at hand. The foreman must learn to carefully and articulately weave his/her influence into every interaction with team members. This is verifiably not an easy task. It requires time, discipline, and genuine care for others.
Foreman must incorporate influence and mentorship into their leadership styles. It is fundamental to their organizational position within the business. It is strongly advised for business owners and/or hiring managers to include clauses that define mentorship requirements for foreman and other leadership positions within the organization. This sets the playing field from day one. This clause will explain to the individual that the business cares deeply about the investment of employee growth.
You cannot grow your business if you fail to grow your employees. Foreman must be great at using materials to build meaningful construction solutions, but they must be even greater at utilizing words to build and inspire the crewmembers around them.
Malone, Dandridge Mike. Small Unit Leadership: A Commonsense Approach. Ballantine Books, 2003.