Better management in your construction business through daily meetings
Safety meetings are Boring! But they don’t have to be, and they shouldn’t be!
Daily huddles, morning meetings, toolbox talks, tailgate meetings, safety meetings – it doesn’t matter what you call it, having a meeting daily with your crew is essential.
If your construction safety officer, your site foreman, or you are the person in charge of the safety meeting make sure the meetings are worth attending. Whoever is leading should be up to the challenge of briefly conveying the message in ways that keep everyone involved and glad they attended.
An explanation (of sorts)
Before going further, I’ll explain what led to this particular article being written. As the Office Mom here at Schulte and Schulte, I was looking for information concerning how to hold morning meetings for our virtual office. (BTW, I found some good stuff.) And, along the way two things happened.
First of all, I discovered there seems to be a wide difference in how many types of businesses outside the construction industry use the morning meeting and how many construction contractors typically use the time. (And, sorry . . . but, if I were giving grades, many contractors would get an “F” for how they conduct their meetings.)
The second thing that happened was, I sat down with a construction superintendent and one of the subjects which came up was “toolbox talks.” He was frustrated with the process he had been given and admitted that he often simply skipped the “talks.” He felt that his company only provided materials and sign-off sheets because they were hoping to avoid the ire of OSHA.
So, my friend, (you know who you are) this is for you.
Getting down to basics
When – NOT whenever you happen to think about it. But, daily. Daily so it becomes an ingrained habit with both you and your workers. And, make the start of the meeting at an odd time – say 7:07. The odd time helps your crew think in increments of minutes and subtly influences the pace of the meeting. Plus, it sets this meeting apart as being something different and special.
Where – NOT at the local restaurant. But, at the jobsite. Being at the jobsite frees precious minutes to get going when the meeting is over. (Some companies provide a mini-breakfast like doughnuts, or bagels, or breakfast burritos, and coffee, but it isn’t necessary, and you need to determine what is best for you and your crew.)
Why – NOT just because you will be able to satisfy some OSHA requirements through ongoing training. (Although that is just one of many advantages.) But, because it is the most effective method to refresh your workers’ knowledge, to deal with up-to-date safety checks, and exchange current information.
How – NOT through haphazard and wishful thinking. But, by making attendance mandatory and . . . well that is the subject of the rest of this article.
Having morning meetings that rock!
The time spent in the morning as a team helps improve individual morale as well as reinforce company culture. This is the place to let everyone know about “having each other’s back” and giving your workers the means to be successful on a daily basis.
This is not the time to investigate bottlenecks. Rather, this time is an opportunity to quickly convey the necessary information and guide employees in a given direction.
Start on a high note by letting different members of the team (quickly) describe any “wins” they’ve had on the job or in their personal lives. “We stood up twelve columns yesterday, two more than our goal.” “My wife gave birth to twins over the weekend!” You see how this leads right into team unity as well as team morale.
Impart the important information – often safety tips. Don’t worry about finding safety topics to discuss. You can find them here, here, here, here, and here. And there is at least one toolbox talks app you may want to check out here. Depending on time of year, type of job, or other situations you can choose those most suited to your present needs. You may also wish to leave out the safety tips on occasion and use those precious minutes to discuss successful job milestones, or overall company health and wellbeing, or another exciting topic which is pertinent to the team.
Make assignments concerning what each individual or team needs to accomplish for the day. (Make sure you document this in writing or on the appropriate app so there won’t be any “But I thought we decided . . .” later in the day or week.)
End on a high note. It could be a quick cheer, or something like a daily inspirational quote, or asking people to name something they learned yesterday, or even a daily joke or pun. Your team feeling uplifted and cheerful at the end of the meeting will help set the tone for the rest of their day.
5 important tips
- Keep everyone standing – this helps convey the brevity of the meeting
- Turn off all phones and (do your best to) limit other distractions
- Start and end on time
- Stay on topic
- Document what was decided (Who was assigned to do what and in what time frame?)
5 good ideas you may wish to try
- Have the crew participate in brief stretching exercises to prepare for the work ahead
- Provide snack-like breakfast items (perhaps only once a week or on special occasions)
- Include “best of” types of mentions or rewards occasionally during the meeting (Who went above and beyond to satisfy a customer? Who had a great eye for the possible safety hazard yesterday and took care of the situation? Who is a new daddy?)
- Consider having different members of the team present the “main” topic as guided by their expertise or some other criteria.
- Invite office personnel to present occasionally when items like filling out the necessary paperwork, using the proper channel for reporting hours worked, teaching use of new apps, or other office-centric activities need to be addressed.
Some final thoughts
Ten to fifteen minutes seems to be the most recommended time frame for completing the morning meeting, but there are those who say seven minutes is just perfect.
Prepare your agenda in advance of each meeting, stick to a format that works for you and your team.
Create a predictable rhythm the team will anticipate, thus helping them to be cued and ready to participate at each changing stage of the morning huddle.
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