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Put the Right Players in the Right Positions!

George Hedley

To win more games than their opponents, NFL football head coaches must have specific positions and hire the best and most talented players available. If players don’t perform or follow the plays, they have no choice but to replace them with better players if they want to win. The same is true in the construction business. The owner, as head coach, has to fill each position with the best players available who have the required experience, talent, attitude and ability to win. And if players won’t follow the plays, achieve expected results or have the required talent, they must be trained, benched or replaced.

Don’t Hire Cheap and Hope it Works Out!

A common problem occurs when business owners micro-manage and control every decision including scheduling crews and equipment, ordering materials, meeting customers, deciding which supplier or subcontractor to use, approving change orders, doing cost estimates, determining final bid markup, presenting proposals, reviewing contracts, approving invoices and almost everything else. When these control-freak managers hire people and don’t let them do their jobs, make decisions, be accountable or take on responsibility, the company can’t grow. And good people eventually leave and find a better place to work.

When frustrated, stuck business owners decide to get help and hire experienced managers with strong resumes. Unfortunately, deciding and doing are two different actions. Continuing their frustrations, they hire inexperienced, low-priced people for key positions. When this doesn’t work out, they try again and hire an assistant, untrained field supervisor, or junior project manager with little experience in the position they need to fill. Or worse, rather than taking enough time to find the right person, they hire a relative or friend who won’t be able to do the required work effectively.

The top reason for making wrong hiring decisions is FEAR—fear of making a mistake or spending too much money. You avoid the pain by not hiring the right person who costs more and can do a great job. Therefore you make an easier decision and hire the WRONG person—a weaker, less expensive, junior trainee and hope it works out. What happens when you hire untrained, cheaper people with little or no management experience? You spend all your time keeping them busy, answering their questions and showing them how to do simple tasks. In other words, you’ll do your job plus theirs, which causes you to work more, achieve less, stay stuck and go nowhere!

Don’t Fill Positions with the Wrong People!

Most business owners are not very good at managing people because they think they’re the only person capable of handling every task required to keep their company going. So they continue to multitask and constantly perform roles they shouldn’t. When I was building my business, I thought I was a pretty good people manager. But I struggled to get employees to do what I wanted them to do. In reality, I was a poor manager, and had a very tough time making employees accountable and responsible. Because of this, my business suffered and we had significant employee turnover. This caused my company to get stuck as I tried to micromanage people with my controlling style. One of my biggest mistakes was not hiring an experienced construction operations manager sooner, which would have let me stick to what I’m good at: leadership, estimating, marketing and sales. What about you?

By deciding what you do best, want to do, don’t want to do, and should do, you can then find the right person to take over roles you shouldn’t handle. Define the position and job description for someone to take over those tasks, decisions, accountabilities, and responsibilities you want to delegate 100 percent.

Put the Right Players in the Right Positions

Often, some people are assigned to positions, but won’t or can’t do everything required to grow your business and make more money. Rather than move or replace them, weak head coaches (business owners) keep hoping these underperforming players get better as they cover for their weaknesses. This is obviously the WRONG person in the WRONG position. Struggling head coaches, rather than face reality, continue to make excuses.

You have to make tough decisions and do what’s right for your company. You’ll continue to limp along if you don’t do what you need to do now. If you have a foreman who won’t learn to operate a tablet for daily job reports, payroll tracking, job communications and keeping in touch with the office, he has to either learn his position’s required responsibilities, find a different position with lower pay or find another place to work. Your job as head coach is to offer training and a reasonable timeframe to require people to step up or step out.

To fill each position with the right people, you want players who’ll be 100 percent accountable and responsible to accomplish the tasks required and achieve the expected results. Accountable means just that—empowered to make decisions and be responsible to get things done without having to check with their boss first.

What Position do you Need to Fill?

Smaller companies, as they start to grow, often first need to hire a responsible combination office manager and construction administrator, a part-time bookkeeper, and a full-charge field foreman or supervisor. As growth continues, they need more administrative help, an assistant or full-charge project manager, and another field foreman or job-site superintendent. When deciding who to hire and what position to fill first, decide which new player will help you get more done and be more effective accomplishing top priorities in your company.

Make Tough People Decisions!

You know what you have to do, so do it now. However large or small your company is, identify every position needed or required to manage your company effectively and the players required to continue to build a successful growing profitable business. Maybe you think you can’t afford it right now, but postponing hiring the right people will keep your company stuck at the same place forever. Realize you can’t continue to do it all yourself. So do whatever it takes! Sell your car, truck or backhoe, lease a used one, then take the money and hire professionals to fill the positions.


George Hedley, CSP, CPBC, is a certified professional construction BIZCOACH and popular industry speaker. He helps contractors grow, make more profit, build management teams, improve field productivity, and get their businesses to work for them. Visit www.hardhatpresentations.com for more information.