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Supervising for Success


Authored by Dan Horton, CRIS, CRM | Chief Sales Officer

Supervising for Success “Before becoming a leader, success is about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is about growing others.” – Jack Welch

I often think back to the first time I managed an employee. Until that point, success was about how effectively I could do my job. It soon became apparent that success was NOW about how effectively I could help my employee do their job. Those are two VERY different skill sets. Pretty quickly, I was made aware of all that I DIDN’T know but had to learn quickly.

I think about our clients and their newly minted project managers or superintendents. I spend my days in an office worrying about operations, while these new managers and superintendents are responsible for people on everchanging job sites: filled with hazards, changing environmental conditions and plenty of opportunities for injury.

How’s that for a steep learning curve? How much training does a new supervisor have on the art of managing and leading people? It’s an important question for any company owner or executive to ask, but especially for contractors.

These new superintendents are responsible for all aspects of the job. They are the eyes and the ears of the company while in the field. They are the CEO of the project. On the one hand, you can be extremely talented at your trade. However, that can be very different from being excellent at managing people. When it comes to developing a new set of field leaders – how much training do you need to provide to make them effective leaders? What are the essential qualities of an effective supervisor?

  • Ability to inspire others
  • Willingness to be held accountable
  • Effective communication

The list goes on and on. What we’re getting at is that leadership is a complicated thing.

Let’s go back to the newly minted superintendent. Are they trying to drive a culture of accountability and safety? It’s very likely that they are managing people with many more years of experience in the field.

How will they react the first time that a long-tenured worker pushes back on a safety observation with “Don’t tell me what to do, I’ve been doing it this way for years.”? Are you coaching supervisors to have these types of tough conversations/interactions?

Attitudes Towards Safety Matters

Surveys from our clients show a strong commitment to safety from management does impact field employees. They see and believe in this commitment to safety.

However, the supervisor may feel pulled between production and quality. Do they focus on safety? Do they focus on getting the job done on time? Do they focus on the budget and overspending?

The right answer is that they’re all important – but believing that and acting the same way are often two different things. It’s probably the most overused cliché in business that success is all about people – but it’s widely used for a reason.

It’s used because it’s true. Our challenge to any contractor who is looking to achieve a higher level of performance is to reflect on what training and development opportunities exist to grow their people, starting with the superintendents. 

Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.