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Construction Manager Master Class: Understand Your Team


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Anyone who manages a team in construction understands the complexities of juggling project deadlines whilst trying to keep their team motivated and on track.

We spoke with Rebecca Livesey, Founder and Managing Director of Achieve-Lead-Succeed, a Brisbane- based executive coach and leadership specialist, about how managers can better understand their team to achieve the best results.

Managing Certainty

Livesey has a background in strategy and specialises in the energy and resources sector. She is interested in why companies with detailed strategies and plans may fail to meet project deadlines and achieve KPI’s.

“While we can create beautiful strategies that can make complete sense, we don’t manage their impact on people that well,” she says.

“While we can create beautiful strategies that can make complete sense, we don’t manage their impact on people that well."

For example, this might occur when the change in activities on the job site. Factors, such as delayed deliveries or changes to the scope of work, influence the entire job site.

“What often happens to people is leaders don’t manage the certainty as far as a change to the direction of the business or the team’s responsibilities go,”says Livesey. “People crave certainty, and so, we need to ask ourselves ‘How do you give that to them in a new way?’ or ‘How do we replace it with something else?’.”

Team members may crave different types of certainty. It is up to the manager to determine the right action for the right person. For example, one person may be concerned about getting home late, which would affect their family time. Whatever the case, determine how to offer certainty in uncertain conditions.

Focus on the Team

According to Livesey, focusing on the team and its members is key to successful outcomes. “Particularly in industries like construction and resources, we are working to timeframes. We’ve got client deadlines, things to get out, and so we tend to get really focused on getting the tasks done.”

It is easy to forget that employees lead ordinary lives outside of work. Demonstrating an interest in your employee’s well-being and their personal life will go a long way, Livesey told Jobsite.

A common barrier to getting a task completed is miscommunication and a misunderstanding of how people work best.

Managers may be able “to describe the task well, but not the behaviours that go with it. We forget that we need to get buy-in from our people. Sometimes we get so focused on the deliverables of the task that we forget the other bits,” Livesey explains.

Livesey believes that behavioural profiling is crucial to helping teams understand how they work and deal with change.

“In industries with technical people, the way the information is processed and decisions made is mostly based on proof and data points. That is certainly the case with construction and resources. We often don’t have a lot of information. Therefore, if the leadership group doesn’t understand their people, it’s really difficult to lead them through the change.”

Livesey believes that behavioural profiling is crucial to helping teams understand how they work and deal with change.

“Behavioural profiling allows to understand our strengths and stressors. Sometimes we have blind spots we aren’t even aware of. That is why coming together and understanding how we as a group process information and how we communicate is really critical,” says Livesey.

The manager can then use this knowledge to make better decisions. For example, one member may be motivated by working alongside their mates while another could be stressed about their contract ending soon. Understanding the team’s stressors and playing to their strengths will yield the most successful project results.

If you liked this article, here are a few eBooks and webinars you may enjoy:

Bringing Job Costing to the Field

Ten Questions. Ten Answers. Millions of Dollars at Stake

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