December 2016: Business Building

Words: George Hedley

Make Project Team Leaders Accountable and Responsible for Results

George-HedleyBy George Hedley

If I asked each of your construction project managers, field superintendents and crew foremen exactly what they were accountable and responsible for, would they know? Could they list what targets, goals and results they were trying to accomplish on the projects they are working on? One of the biggest problems business owners and managers have is getting their people to be accountable. But this problem is also one of the easiest challenges to fix. When your team leaders don’t know what they’re accountable or responsible for and don’t have specific targets or goals, how can you expect them to achieve the results you want? Start by making it very clear what your people are expected to achieve on their projects. If you want a project to be completed on July 1, write it out in large letters on a poster board in the job trailer for all to see. Then everyone will know the date without any misunderstandings. If you want the project manager to make $50,000 gross profit on a job, write it boldly on a chart for all to see on his office wall. That way everyone will know the goal, and will stay focused on hitting the target. If you want to meet or beat your estimated production crew hour goals on a certain job, give your foreman a scorecard with the total job hours as his target, and then keep him updated every week on how well the crew is doing.

Project Manager Job Descriptions

Everyone in your company needs a detailed job accountability and responsibility scorecard, listing what he or she is accountable and responsible for. Instead of generic job descriptions that aren’t specific, take time to develop exactly what you want your people to accomplish. For example, a typical ineffective project manager job description says something like, “The project manager has a key role as captain of the team. The PM is the common link from business development to project completion. A PM has a clear understanding of the chain of events in the construction process and can foresee what impact changes have on the three major areas: cost, schedule and quality.” Blah, blah, blah! This type of job description becomes a list of big words that no one can understand or get their hands around. What you need are lists of what you want your key people to do and what they are responsible for. With short, impactful lists of accountabilities, they will know if they achieve their goals and how they will be judged. For example, an effective job description for a project manager could be written as follows: “The PM is 100 percent accountable and responsible to finish projects on or under budget; write all required subcontracts and purchase orders within the first 20 days of starting projects; maintain and update project budgets and job cost reports by the 10th of every month; invoice customers by month end; document all project issues, notices, change order requests, requests for information, etc. within three days of occurrence or per contract,” and so on.

Who’s Accountable and Responsible?

When I work with construction company owners and managers, I ask who’s responsible for a safe jobsite, quality, meeting the budget or finishing on time. They typical answer is, “Everyone!” When everyone is responsible, no one is responsible. Only one person can be accountable for each thing that happens on your jobsites. Only one person actually directs the field workers to do quality work without mistakes. When foremen don’t do the final walk-through with project owners, they are not accountable for getting their crew’s work approved. And when not clearly accountable for poor workmanship or call-backs, foremen don’t take time to make sure quality work is performed and no punch-list items exist before they leave the jobsite. Who is really responsible for project safety? Is it your safety director, superintendent or foreman? The foreman is responsible for the safety of his crew and must be the ultimate responsible person in charge of his jobsite at all times. If the foreman is not sure, he’ll assume that someone else is checking for safety instead of him.

What’s Important Must Be Identified and Tracked

In order to get project crew leaders to accept accountability for results, they must be clear on what they’re responsible for. One of the best exercises I do when coaching companies is to get all of the project managers, field superintendents and crew foremen together. We make a list of everything required to meet the project goals, including:
  1. Budget vs. actual job costs.
  2. Field production results. a. Crew labor. b. Company equipment. c. Material.
  3. Schedule, milestones and completion dates. a. Material and equipment delivered on time. b. Subcontractor performance.
  4. Quality and workmanship.
  5. Safety.
  6. Contract management. a. Paperwork and correspondence. b. Documentation. c. Change orders. d. Obtaining approvals.
  7. Invoicing and payment.
  8. Customer satisfaction and relationships.
The next step is to decide what makes for excellent performance in each category and assign a responsible team leader. For example, the team may determine that, in order to achieve the project budget, they must get together and review the bid estimate at job start-up and then decide on an actual job budget the team will work together to achieve. The project manager will be accountable to create, maintain and track a “budget versus actual job cost” report, to be completed by month end and then reviewed with the team. As another example, to maintain a safe jobsite with zero accidents, the foreman will be accountable to do a daily job walk-through to inspect for safety concerns and violations, and turn in a weekly report of the findings. Finally, as a third example, the field superintendent will be assigned the responsibility to maintain and track the overall project schedule, meet the completion date, and turn in a four-week look-ahead schedule every Friday as part of his job description. Email to get your copy of “Accountable and Responsible Construction Job Descriptions.” To make your project team leaders responsible for achieving results, they need to know what results are expected, and who is accountable for them. In only a few hours, you can make a complete list of what you want each of your leadership positions to be responsible for. Then you’ll have exact results to hold your project leaders accountable.
As a professional construction BIZCOACH and popular industry speaker, George Hedley helps contractors increase profits, grow and get their companies to work!  He is the best-selling author of “Get Your Construction Business To Always Make A Profit!” available at his online bookstore at  E-mail to sign-up for his free e-newsletter, join a peer mastermind BIZGROUP, attend a BIZ-BUILDER Boot Camp, implement the BIZ-BUILDER BLUEPRINT, or get a discount for online courses at George Hedley, CSP CPBC, HARDHAT Presentations, 800-851-8553
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