How the right people will clear a path for success
by George Hedley
May 22, 2018

On a construction jobsite, innumerable things can go wrong—many of which might be completely out of your control. For example, you cannot control who will show up for work, when equipment might break down, if the weather will be favorable or whether plans will be complete and accurate.

On top of this host of unforeseeable problems, you are held to a guaranteed price at which you must perform your work, with no guarantees that anything will go as planned. To overcome these potential problems, you must begin by determining which tasks to handle yourself and which to delegate to other team members.

Construction business owners and managers struggle daily to handle emergencies, put out fires and get it all done by themselves. Trying to manage multiple responsibilities simultaneously is more than difficult. To lead your company toward the level of success you desire, which includes profitable growth, a strong management team, quality workmanship and a safe work environment, your company will need four separate types of professionals taking care of your business. These four types of professionals are the coach, manager, administrator and player.

Without all four of these key roles filled with the right people, your company cannot reach its full potential. As exhibited in many companies, most employees perform strongest in one specific area, such as estimating, sales or project management.

When an owner attempts to handle all areas of responsibility, they have a tough time delegating tasks, growing the company, enforcing standards and maximizing their bottom line. One person simply cannot take on the workload and talents of an entire workforce. Staffing the following four types of employees is essential to finding the correct balance of work and leadership most owners need to succeed.

1. The Coach

The coach is the company’s visionary. This role is typically filled by the company founder or owner, and brings with it a positive attitude, which makes people want to follow their leadership. As the leader, they are passionate about the future of the company and are dreamers and creators of the business vision, mission and focus. They have great energy and are imaginative, inspiring and motivating, led by their passion for innovation and change. To help make their vision come to life, they need to work alongside the following three roles.

2. The Manager

The manager effectively organizes people, teams, departments and operations. They are systemized, detail-oriented, reliable, standards- and systems-focused, accountable and accurate, holding others to these same standards. Checklists, scorecards and agendas aid their focus in reaching expected results, meeting schedule times, hitting budget goals and regularly tracking progress. Managers do not have difficulty telling people the facts, disciplining others, delegating, mentoring, reviewing employee performance or firing poor performers.

3. The Administrator

The administrator is responsible for managing two areas of the company—accounting and legislation. They keep track of financial matters, results, performance, achievements and progress. The administrator manages the other administrative staff and organizes systems, procedures, files, paperwork, human resources, insurance, and corporate affairs. They implement and reinforce the tasks and systems required to keep the company running efficiently while preparing and presenting reports to company leaders. Keeping a keen eye on detail, the administrator is the oil that keeps the machine running smoothly.

4. The Player

The player is the one who does the work. Each player has a particular area of talent, skill and responsibility they are assigned to handle. Most players excel in one area of strength, whether that is derived from natural talent or an area in which they have been trained. Talented players can be good employees in sales, estimating, project management, field supervision, safety, equipment, production, customer relations, quality control, craft trades, accounting, technology or many other specific areas.

These players fail when they stray from their area of talent and handle tasks outside of their wheelhouse.

For example, estimators are not usually successful in a sales atmosphere; general superintendents are not usually successful with numbers or managing job costs; bookkeepers are not usually successful in project administration or management; and business owners are not usually successful at managing everyday details.

Likewise, when construction business owners attempt to handle work in areas in which they have little talent, they too fail. Focus your talent on what you do best. If your main weakness as a business owner is managing your employees, you must find a responsible manager who excels in this area. Most owners also need to hire a manager who can be held responsible for operations, project management, field supervision and getting projects built on time and budget.

To grow and improve, look toward the areas of your business that need more of your attention to achieve the next level of excellence. Determine what you need to fix, and which organizational chart gaps and positions of responsibility you need to fill or replace. Let go of the tasks you do not want to handle or are not good at handling. Then, recruit and hire the right employees to complete those tasks.

If you think you cannot afford it, you are probably wrong. Until now, you have been doing all of the work alone, leaving you unable to earn enough money to hire the employees you needed. Without the right employees in the right positions, your company will continue to struggle financially.

As you clear a path for growth, look objectively at how you run your business. Make a list of who is currently accountable and responsible for each area of the company. Decide what positons you need to hire for and/or who is best suited to take over some of your areas of responsibility. If you do not currently have an employee qualified to take on this task, wait to fill this position and make it your next priority hire. The goal is to design your ideal organizational chart and a game plan that will allow for the growth you’re looking to gain. This exercise will help you map out and identify your future management team needs.

The hard part is deciding to work on your own areas of weakness or to look for the right employee promotions or hires to improve the management structure of your company. Personally assuming responsibility for every task is a natural inclination for entrepreneurs who want to maintain full control. The question is, are you willing to take bold steps to promote or hire the right managers to fill your organizational gaps?

The time may never feel right, but unless you are willing to invest in your future and hire the right team, your business will never reach its full potential.