Setting Crew Leaders Up for Job Site Success
In this day and age of challenges finding and retaining quality employees, it’s more important than ever to make sure that your crew leaders – your team – are finding purpose, fulfillment in their work, and success – especially job site success.
You want to make sure they’re enjoying what they do, that they are problem-solving, and stepping up to the challenges. One of the ways you can do that is set your crew leaders up for success on the jobsite. And you’ll benefit from increased efficiency and productivity to boot.
I believe there’s a place where all of that has to stem from…
Who Controls Job Site Success?
You have to set up your team for success. We could discuss this topic with any member of your team, but in this article, I’m going to zone in on the crew leader, aka foreman.
I ran a crew for about 10 years at Tussey Landscaping. During that time the company grew a lot (from a bit over $1m to $5m). Processes evolved, and I personally learned a lot regarding efficiency, finding purpose in your work, stepping up to the challenge, and looking for ways to make the company and job site more successful.
A key thing that I feel is critical to making everything I rattled off above possible, is that your team, your crew leader, has to see and feel that you are investing in them.
- not asking them to operate with old broken equipment.
- providing tools to make their jobs easier.
- are setting clear expectations, clear direction, and making sure they are well informed. Communicating the goal.
Communicating goals are so important.
We all need to know when we’ve achieved a good goal. When we’ve hit a milestone. When we have cause to celebrate and high five.
Not doing any of the above is setting them up to fail.
Job Site Success is in the Details
If you send them out to the job, without good details and info on the job to be done, what materials or tools they’re going to need to kick the job off, you are going to see symptoms like guys returning to the shop to get something they forgot, a whole truck full of guys going to your supplier to pick up materials (instead of just one guy), and struggling to get the job done without the proper tools, just for some examples.
The root cause of the “failed” examples is coming from the top.
You need to make sure they know things like:
- What the job is
- What tools/equipment they’ll need (need to haul out demo debris on day one of the job?)
- Closest dump site
- Where the materials/orders for the job are coming from
- What’s the access like
- Basic info like name, address, and phone number of the client
- Material lists with quantities
- Photos/designs of the job
- Estimated man hours you expect the job to take. (give them a line in the sand to beat, but be realistic!)
If they know these things, you’ll see a dramatic decrease in people standing around with their hands hanging at their sides, blaming others for mistakes, wasteful practices, wasted time and truck runs, and not having the right tools/equipment/materials with them.
You’ll see an amazing improvement in your crew leader stepping up and taking ownership, coming up with ideas to be more efficient, better planning of deliveries, truck runs, and getting materials to the job.
Over time you’ll see them take pride in their work, and begin to solve challenges on their own that never hit your radar.
Knowledge Equals Success for Everyone
You’ll see far fewer phone tags of your crew bombarding you with questions, asking for this info.
It comes down to the simple fact that if you give them the details they need to do the job well (notes & photos detailing access, tools/materials/equipment needed), and set the expectations (estimated manhours), you’ll see them grow in responsibility and you’re giving them a pathway to autonomy.
If you fail to communicate these details, you’ll see a lack of taking responsibility, everything being someone else’s problem, and wasteful practices. Poor efficiency.
But What About Poor Work Ethic?
Now, I get it, at the end of the day the picture I’m painting of someone taking responsibility if you provide clear details and expectation still requires someone with the basic fundamentals of a good work ethic. Unfortunately, not all humans possess or strive for a solid work ethic.
But at least now you know this: You’ve communicated clear instructions and expectations. You’ve set them up for success. And if they fail to deliver, repeatedly, now you have some concrete things to stand on and call them into account.
Like, “Why did we fail to have the right equipment on the job site? It was clearly spelled out in your instructions that we need that equipment to kick to job off. What happened?”
And you’ll either identify an honest mistake and come up with a solution to not repeat the mistake, or you’ll pull a poor performance out into the open where it can’t hide and/or cast blame.
How Do You Start?
So, how do you do this? How do you set crew leaders up for job site success? Where do you start?
- You can make it as simple as filling out a checklist for each job you sell and putting it into a paper job folder for the crew leader. That’s what we were doing when I started running a crew at Tussey.
- Or you can do what we did, and utilize technology to make access to that info so much easier, and avoid the scenario where you left the job folder in the other truck, etc.
When we started building SynkedUP, a key purpose for the app, in my mind, was to serve the crew leader, provide the info he/she needed to do the job well, lessen unnecessary phone tag between the sales guy and the crew leader, and just streamline the workflow so that each side knows what’s going on. The sales guy or project manager knows what’s going on out in the field, and the crew leader knows the details and is set up to execute the job with professional performance.
SynkedUP’s mobile app is set up to handle this beautifully, with info like…
Details on each section of the job
A progress bar on estimated vs actual labor hours
Client and job site info (navigate directly to the Job Site)
But regardless of whether you use tech or paper, the job site success of a system like this all starts at the top.
If you are the one selling the jobs and handing them over to a crew leader, that’s YOU. If you don’t do a consistently good job providing the details, it’s not going to work.
By providing good, clear, and consistent info to your crew leader for every job, you are training your crew leader that the source of info is not via calling you, it’s via checking your paper job folder or digital job folder in the mobile app.
Check out how the mobile app works in the overview video below
Job Site Success is a Win-Win
And it’s a two way street!
If you are using the SynkedUP mobile app to track your time and having the crew track materials, receipts, and notes in the app, you’ll be kept up to date on the progress of the job. It’s a win-win!
Again, you can pull off this principle on paper or via an app like SynkedUP. Do what works for you.
But please, be consistent. Pick a system and discipline yourself to use it.
Don’t let your crew leader catch you having failed to provide the info and forcing them to call you. Teach them that the “source of truth” is in your process. If you are consistent in providing that source of truth in your process, then your team can become consistent in USING that source of truth in your process.
I’ll close off by giving my recommendation on what that crew leader checklist could look like for you.
This is the stuff I wanted to know on every job before kicking it off. It helped me mentally prep and plan, and avoid a lot of needless mistakes.
- Client Info – What were the client details? Name, address, phone number, etc.
- Scope of Work – What were we doing for these clients?
- Overview – Description of the job, or a copy of the signed contract
- All Job Details – Material lists, notes, photos of the site and access, vendor orders, where was I going to get the materials from, where should I order stones from, where were the plants coming from, etc.
- Man Hours – I wanted to see each work area of the job and the estimated manhours for each work area.
- Contextual Info – What was the client/salesperson’s vision? What did we need to do on day one? Did I need to show up on day one with any specific tools and equipment? How many guys should I take on day one? (After day one it was on me to plan all those things. I just needed to know what to expect for day one so I could show up prepared and ready to rock.)
- Access – What was the access like?
- Dumping – Closest dump site for any waste?
At the end of the day people just want to know what is expected of them, and want to be well equipped to perform that. All people want to feel like they are doing a good job, and want to be appreciated for it. So give them that.
Let them know what they’re supposed to do, what success looks like, and equip them well to do the job. Invest in them with tools and training. Appreciate them. And you’ll be blown away by how people will step up to the challenge and outperform your expectations.
What do you think?
Did I miss anything?
What does your process look like?
Let me know in the comments below!
CEO and co-founder
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