Delegating in the Construction Arena
Delegating: a leadership tool
Every day you send people into the field or to their desks to accomplish a variety of tasks. You’ve delegated a certain portion of the work to each of them. How well they perform is based on their skill level and on how well you’ve delegated.
Therefore, your job isn’t to accomplish the things your employees or subs are tasked with. Furthermore your job is to see to it they have the proper understanding and the correct tools to get the job done.
Delegating requires trust
Before you can trust someone to accomplish something, he or she must climb your “trust ladder.” Some of the steps they must climb are:
- Show up on time
- Be competent at their work
- Be dependable
Once these rungs are accomplished there are a few other steps which must be taken. You want your people to:
- Tell the truth
- Admit when they don’t know something
- Admit when they’re wrong
- Do the right thing even when they think no one is watching
- Listen – truly listen
When these trust levels are met then you:
- Trust them with your resources
- Trust them with information
- Develop relationships
I can’t go on without mentioning that sometimes trust is broken. When it is, this article from Frank Sonnenberg discusses how best to deal with the situation.
Delegating takes guts
Just like you can’t seat every pipe, pound every nail, or swish every brush, you already understand you can’t perform every task.
Hence, there is a very good chance you’re holding on to some tasks you think only you can perform.
So, what should you do? Stop it.
From the jobsite to the office there are probably tasks you do which would be better left to others. And, it takes guts to pass them on. Most likely, the reason you haven’t already passed them on falls into one of two categories. You don’t think someone else can do them as well as you do, or you never even thought of passing it off – because you’ve always done it.
Delegating – divide the tasks to multiply the success
Delegating isn’t something you’re new at. By the very nature of the beast, construction depends on a myriad of delegation levels. Likewise, it is part and parcel of what you do. Yet, there are likely ways you can improve your delegating powers.
As an aside, if you would like to see a stunning example of delegating to the nth degree, drop in at your local fast-food joint. Not all, but many fast-food restaurants have delegated the duties of the host, wait-staff, and bussing personnel. Not only have they nearly erased the rolls usually performed by people in those positions, they’ve delegated much of their associated tasks to . . . uh, you – their paying customer. Just sayen’.
What to delegate
There is a myriad of tasks which you can pass off to others. You’ve already stepped into that realm when you hired your first employee or contracted with your first sub. Yet, there are more tasks and efficient ways you can delegate. It is quite likely there are some duties you feel you are the only one capable of handling correctly. Many of those tasks you can trust to others. Really.
In this list there is only one item included that you will likely be better off doing yourself. Can you figure out which one it is?
- Approving change orders
- Paying bills and payroll
- Cultivate a strong company culture
- Managing individual crews
- Software or SaaS acquisition
- Selecting new tools or equipment
- Approving purchase orders
If you determined the one item which doesn’t fit in the above list is “Cultivate a strong company culture,” you’re right. One of your most important tasks as the leader of your construction company is to set the course. And, if you’re too busy taking care of the other tasks, you have no time for course-setting.
Delegating gives you space for true leadership
It is your job to lead the business. There are areas where you need to direct your focus once you’ve passed on tasks, responsibilities, and duties to others. Here are some areas where you can spend time once you’ve delegated well.
- Set up and develop the brand name
- Create and implement vision and direction
- Form company culture
- Understand the budget and the financials
- Establish financial performance metrics
- Develop long and short-term strategic plans
- Plan recruiting and retention strategies
- Lead, guide, and evaluate employees and subs
- Establish criteria for success and provide leadership for achievement of goals
- Hold employees and subs accountable
- Delve into innovation
- Seek opportunities for expansion
- Stay on top of new industry developments and standards
- Solicit advice from mentors, associates, and experts
- Represent your company in civic and professional associations
- Participate in industry related events
- Assess operational situations for crisis management, safety, and escalation protocol
- Determine solutions to project issues
- Develop cost effective resources
Avenues to delegation
There are basically four avenues you can use to step up your delegation game.
- Use in-house personnel – Whether in the office or in the field, the judicious use of delegation to the people in your employ makes your company healthier.
- Engage trade subcontractors – Handing over part of the work to trusted subs is a long-standing method of increasing the capabilities of your construction business.
- Deploy outside sources – This delegation option (once only available to the wealthy) is becoming more and more necessary, accessible, and expedient. A few available options you should consider are an attorney, accounting services, a virtual assistant, marketing, website development, janitorial services, outsourced human resources, and tax preparation.
- Adopt technical systems – There are several critical processes you can automate (think delegate) through the use of software or SaaS and apps. A few which come to mind are project management, takeoffs, estimating, and job costing.
Delegating is an investment
Remember that an expense is different from an investment. Mike Harden, of The Clarity Group says, “What’s the difference between an investment and an expense? The difference is simple: one will start paying you back, and the other is a drain on your resources.”
- Taking time to delegate is an investment.
- Paying fees to delegate is an investment.
- Choosing correct technical applications is an investment.
Investing in your business through delegating well is a sound business principle. A business principle which has the power to exponentially increase the value of your company.
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