The Importance of a Unified Crew

There are some things in the world of construction that are essential, and then there are others that seem like faraway fantasies. We zero in on the essentials because, without things like equipment, labor and schedules, our job sites simply won’t take form. But the things on our wish lists get pushed to the back burner because we chalk them up to being niceties that we can probably do without if push comes to shove – and push always comes to shove, doesn’t it?

Some of these things, though, shouldn’t be treated as a mythical cherry on top if everything else on your list gets handled. If you consider them non-essential, important goals like unifying your crew can actually produce far-reaching consequences when ignored. If you want to improve employee morale, finish jobs on time (or early!) and enjoy a healthier bottom line on your projects, you’d be smart to invest in getting your whole team on the same page. Here are a few ideas for how to accomplish this seemingly impossible task.

The Only Constant is Change

If there’s one truth in life, it’s that change is inevitable. And if there’s one truth in construction, it’s that change is even more inevitable. With locations, sizes and budgets being modified often without notice, it can be dizzying to keep up. Don’t be overwhelmed. Instead, work to create an entire mindset shift within your team.

People are often enraged when the tires on their cars need to be replaced, but let’s be honest – we all know that tires don’t last forever when we buy them, right? So acknowledging the inescapable reality that you will someday need to purchase new tires can help you prepare for it, and save enough cash so that the eventual expense won’t hurt you. The same applies to a job site. You know before the plans are ever put together that changes are going to happen. It’s up to you to get your crew ready for potential outcomes – and solutions.

Consider holding a meeting with everyone involved on an upcoming project before ground is ever broken. Forecast all possible changes, and ask the departments who would be most affected to create ways to work around these alterations. You won’t be able to predict every change, or have foolproof plans in place that will prevent a single delay, but you will be poised to take action. And you will waste far less time coming from position of proactive preparation, rather than one in which you’re forced to act under pressure.

When New Ideas Come A-Knockin’

Construction is one industry in which innovation is not always welcomed with open arms. Individuals from owners to structural engineers to general contractors to field laborers who have been in this line of work for years (or decades) have often found their stride with a particular way of getting their jobs done. It can be hard to get your team to embrace a new idea, method or product, because oftentimes they will dread how it will change their ability to be effective. There is also the perceived obstacle of facing a learning curve that gives people in all roles anxiety.

The best way to quell your workforce’s fears is by taking the time to have senior leadership meet with every team member one by one. If it’s a company-wide policy you’re implementing, prepare paperwork in advance that answers all the most common questions you anticipate people will have. If it’s a new product you want your crew to adopt in the field, put together a compelling presentation you can share with them that clearly shows how it will benefit them and their position. The key to unifying your team on a new idea is to win them over, one by one, on why this step is in each of their individual best interests.

Setting all Eyes on the Same Prize

Sometimes you’ll find yourself needing to achieve a lofty goal, but struggling to get buy-in from the people who need to execute on it. Need to complete a job site two weeks earlier than planned? Maybe your field supervisor is dragging his heels because he’s miffed that no one consulted with him about whether this new schedule was feasible for him and his team. If you can’t seem to appeal to him through logic, attract him to your goal with motivating incentives. Sure, some may call this bribery. But plenty of occupations (like sales or sometimes customer service) use desirable rewards as a way to inspire specific employee behaviors.

Consider promising an extra day off, or a free night’s stay at a nearby hotel for those who align their level of effort with the company goal. If you’re stuck on what incentives to offer, first figure out your budget. Then send out a quick survey to all of your employees and ask what matters most to them, giving options like time off, company parties, gift cards, bonuses or a paid trip to choose from. It’ll be a snap to use this information in order to get all your employees’ eyes on the same prize.

If you think unifying your company from top to bottom isn’t possible or isn’t worth the time it would take, think again. Your employee satisfaction, ability to stay on track with projects and business’ financial health all depend on a smoothly functioning workforce. So devote a little time, and invest in what it takes to bring everyone onto the same page.

Do you have any tips for winning people over to new ideas, products or goals? Leave us a comment – we’d love to hear about it!