Construction is a complex and changing process that requires people to change and evolve to suit different projects, clients, locations, challenges and complexities. But to make it more difficult it experiences an inconsistent workforce which varies between regions and cultures. In fact, there are probably few industries that employ people from such a diverse range of cultures, ages, economic means and educational backgrounds, expecting them to work together to successfully deliver a project. To complicate matters further, the workforce is changing, and many cultures and young people have a different work ethic and loyalty from what the norm was a few years ago. Although the processes in construction have remained relatively unchanged for literally hundreds of years, they are now changing, with new technology, different client requirements, complex regulations and innumerable legislation matters, which often place more emphasis on paperwork and rules than ever before.
In developing and developed countries construction is often viewed as a less attractive vocation than other careers, resulting in a limited pool of skills being available to undertake complex projects. To make matters worse many of the projects are in remote locations and many have unattractive working hours.
The key for any contractor’s success is its ability to employ suitable people and retain them, managing them to maximise their worth to the company. Therefore every manager has to understand people, their cultures and backgrounds, and be able to work with them using their strengths, and assisting them with their weaknesses.
Start by employing the right people
The most important step in having good people is to employ the right people.
1. They require knowledge and experience to perform the tasks expected of them. (An experienced building Supervisor is possibly not best suited to supervise the construction of a road.)
2. They need to fit in with the culture of the company and must ascribe to the company’s values. (It’s pointless for the company to set high standards for safety and quality, and then employ a Supervisor who is unconcerned with these values. They may have all the experience and knowledge for the position, but they will destroy the company’s reputation in no time.)
3. They should be willing to work in the regions and areas in which the company operates in. (I’ve seen many personnel unhappy because they’ve had to relocate their family, or had to work in areas far from where they live. Yet, there are individuals who enjoy working in these regions and others who are willing to relocate their families to remote areas.)
4. They must have aspirations which the company can satisfy. (Everyone has different aspirations and not all companies can meet these. Failure to fulfil a person’s aspirations eventually results in them becoming unsatisfied and unhappy.)
5. Construction is a people business and everyone should be able to communicate and work with others.