7 Deadly Sins of Steel Building Construction Management
You all must know about the seven deadly sins. Gluttony, Lust, Greed, Pride, Wrath, Sloth and Envy. Have you ever heard about the 7 Deadly Sins of Construction Management? Probably not, since I made them up! But in all seriousness, working in the construction industry can be dangerous. In fact, Business Insider Magazine added several construction related jobs to the ‘Top 10 Deadliest Jobs in America’ list.
As a construction manager, that’s one thing you don’t take lightly. You know if you don’t have a proper plan, people can get hurt. It’s one of the toughest parts of the job. While not every decision you make presents a life or death situation for your employees, builders, subcontractors, or clients, it could still contribute to the success or failure of your business down the road. Take this list and memorize it. You’ll thank me later.
Deadly Sin #1 – Not paying attention to safety
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that over 4,400 workers were killed on the job in 2013. That adds up to 12 deaths per day. Because of this startling fact, you must make a commitment to safety. OSHA maintains standards for the construction industry that addresses safety and health for managers. Even if you don’t have your own standard set of rules, you can integrate information on providing employees with safe working conditions, hazard identification training and control, emergency response planning, and first aid and medical training. Adopt or improve a safety plan right away to reduce the risk of injury in your workplace.
Deadly Sin #2 – Ignoring Change/Not adopting new practices
Doctors continually attend symposiums and seminars to stay on top of new medical practices. As a contractor or construction manager, it’s important to stay on top of new trends in the business. While safety might be the first priority of your company, quality might be a close second. If industry processes change, be among the first to embrace them. The construction industry is full of some of the smartest individuals who continue to expand the way others operate. Even if you didn’t come up with the idea, check your pride at the door, and implement the idea if it makes your employees and product better. It’s also a good idea to search ways to boost profits on a building project or establish a better referral system. Those who fear change also genuinely believe, sometimes on an unconscious level, that when you’ve been doing something a particular way for some time, it must be a good way to do things. The longer you’ve been doing it that way, the better it is. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes, you’ll need to adapt to see yourself prosper.
Deadly Sin #3 – Failure to Follow Directions
As a contractor, you’re often not the one in charge of the main design of a product. You might only be in charge of erecting a steel building, while a steel building supplier is responsible of the engineering. However, you might be in charge of the look of a finished product. Every Armstrong Steel building is designed to fit together a certain way, so a contractor needs to follow the engineering principles set forth in the construction manual. There are no shortcuts you should take with a pre-engineered product. If a building system calls for screws, don’t use nails and think the product will ‘hold up.’ Don’t cut the primary framing because you think it will work better that way. Remember the old TV show MacGyver? The main character would be able to fashion tools and equipment on the fly to create whatever he needed at the time with normal household objects. When erecting a steel building, or anything for that matter, it’s not the time to be MacGyver. Follow the instructions, and erect the steel building the way the product was designed.
Deadly Sin #4 – No Communication
I understand that a project can be intensive, especially with multiple subcontractors working above or beneath you. Nevertheless, there is no excuse for poor communication, or the inability to write everything down. Deadlines are going to come and go, and if you miss them, it will result in poor productivity, delays, and a loss of money and business. A general contractor or superintendent needs to be in charge of his people and maintain a proper schedule. This includes having all expectations in writing, as well as documenting each question or modification so every person, whether it be client or employee, is on the same page. Coordination can be your best friend!
Deadly Sin #5 – Leaving your job site unsecured
It’s no surprise that a few of our deadly sins have to do with safety. Laziness or improper training might be the biggest cause of an unsecure job site. Take the extra time to confirm that your equipment and unused tools are properly stored at the end of a shift. Construction vehicles should be locked and keys secured when not in use, and locks need to be installed on storage areas or fences. Also, limit the access to the site and provide admittance to only necessary personnel. Utilize proper lighting and boundaries to deter thieves or trespassers. Don’t forget to add the cost of securing the steel building construction site to your overall budget.
Deadly Sin #6 – Getting in unnecessary bidding wars
Your time costs money, so don’t spend hours or days competing with other companies trying to win business. It could be a huge waste of time, especially if the client picks a different builder. So what do you do instead? Look into metal building erection. Many people do want to erect a steel building themselves, but there are many others might require your services.
Deadly Sin #7 – Refusing to acknowledge mistakes
Truer words have never been spoken: You’re going to make mistakes. You can do everything in your power to prevent slip-ups, but they’ll still happen. It’s all about how you handle them. It’s never easy to admit you’ve made a mistake, but it’s a decisive step in the learning process, and the key to improving. Admission of a mistake, even if it’s to yourself, gets you on the path to understanding sooner. Don’t look at your mistakes as a failure; use them as learning experience. If you make a mistake when erecting a steel building, identify it, and move on. After that experience, I can almost guarantee you won’t do it again.
What do you think? Can you think of any more deadly sins of construction management? I’d love to expand this list with your input.Photo courtesy: Lindsey G, Chris Waits, William Schenold