MBCEA Helps Build Strong Teams
Today we are going to
talk about hockey. Hockey? In the dead of summer? Yes, hockey.
Because as I write, the Chicago Blackhawks have just won the
Stanley Cup and hockey is heavy on my mind.
The funny thing about hockey is sometimes superstars don't make
it. Hockey, like business (you thought this was just going to be
about hockey?) is a team sport and we all know there is no "I" in
team. Not all superstars know how to play well with others, and in
hockey this means they will eventually be cut. In hockey, an
individual's abilities can be greatly enhanced by the power of the
team. A ragtag bunch of mediocre players that have the right work
ethic, integrity and dedication can be a super team with the right
In business and in any team sport, it is important that every
player know exactly what his job is and how to execute that job.
This does not happen in a vacuum. There is training and coaching
and pre- and post-game reviews of the highlight reels. There is a
finely tuned sense of trust and respect. There is also clarity and
understanding of who does what.
Job descriptions are not just pieces of paper in your personnel
files; they are agreements between you and your staff. They are
outlines of responsibilities so everyone understands and is on the
same page. They help your team run smoothly because everyone is on
the same page. People need to know their boundaries. They need to
know what is expected of them. They need to have authority to
perform the key elements of their jobs. They need to know what they
are doing right and what their areas for improvement are. They need
to know what is expected of their teammates, what authority their
teammates have. They need to know who to go to with a question.
Teams and businesses that have high employee engagement, good
morale and esprit de corps have workers that know and understand
each other's roles and responsibilities.
Role clarification is important for high-functioning teams. It
is also an essential duty of management. The MBCEA recently
received approval for a new Metal Building Assembler Accreditation
program, AC478. Central to the management system required for
accreditation are three roles: safety manager, training manager and
quality manager. There are clear and specific job descriptions for
each. If you are a small company, the owner or one employee may
perform all three roles; the program does not assume or require a
certain number of employees. It does require; however, that those
unique qualities that define each job be recognized and understood
by everyone within the organization.
Effective teams also have effective meetings. Meetings are
opportunities to address who does what, to manage expectations and
lay out chains of command. Consider the following meetings and the
powerful opportunities they present:
- Project Meeting: For all intents and purposes,
a project is a mini business. There are chains of command, defined
roles and responsibilities, and goals and objectives. If you are
not having project meetings, I encourage you to do so. This is a
perfect opportunity to make sure everyone is on the same page, to
clarify who does what and to address any issues before they become
- Post-project Review Meetings: These should
occur for every project. They are not long, drawn out affairs but
are quick and focused. There should be a project report card. Did
we come in ahead of budget? Did we meet our manpower projections?
Did we control costs? Did we satisfy our client? These gatherings
are opportunities to learn from mistakes, address areas for
improvement and celebrate successes.
- Safety Meetings: If safety is the priority for
everything we do, it stands to reason everyone needs to know who
does what, how they do it, who has what level of authority, etc.
Safety meetings are ideal opportunities to review day-to-day
execution of safety plans, safety requirements for the current
projects and in-house safety. They are also where you make sure
everyone is completely aware of the various levels of authority
with regards to safety infractions. For example, if your foreman is
authorized to dismiss a worker from a job site for an infraction,
the foreman should know he has that authority and the workers
should know it as well. Sounds simple, but we all know the adage
- Board Meetings: Do you have regular board
meetings? Do you even have a board? I am not talking a stuffy
meeting full of suits on Wall Street, but a meeting of your key
players and perhaps a few trusted advisors. A group of people whose
opinion you value; who can help you stay true to your stated
objectives. You should meet at least once a year, but twice or
quarterly is even better. You should discuss what you are doing
right and what you can be doing better. You should review your
processes, your profit and loss, your major customers and your
staff. As with the previous meetings, this is not just a talking
fest but an opportunity to drive continuous improvement.
It all comes full circle: if you want a strong team, everyone on
the team needs to know what is expected of them and what to expect
from others. You need to practice, practice and practice some more.
When you take the time to review your processes, procedures and
people, you ensure a finely tuned team. You don't need superstars,
but you do need everyone skating in the same direction with a
united sense of purpose. That's how Stanley Cups are won, that's
how businesses stay strong.
The MBCEA has sample job descriptions, employee evaluation
forms, training programs, orientation programs, etc. in the members
only area of the website (www.mbcea.org). The tools are there for your
use, but they only work if you use 'em!
# # # #
Gary T. Smith is president of Thomas
Phoenix International Inc., Mount Holly, N.J. He serves as
president of the Metal Building Contractors and Erectors
Association, chair of the Metal Buildings Institute Apprenticeship
Committee and chair of the MBCEA Accreditation Review Committee. He
is an outspoken proponent of training and education for the metal