The move from construction worker to a manager is stressful. It’s a huge leap forward and an incredible opportunity. However, it’s a switch from a relatively independent role to one that involves overseeing multiple people. Some construction managers supervise colleagues they've worked with in the past.
It’s challenging to reframe others' opinions, especially while standing side-by-side. However, people tend to respect managers who worked their way up the ranks. In comparison, someone with a promotion must adopt a unique attitude toward new responsibilities.
How can a newly appointed construction manager become successful in their role? What mindset and attitude changes will they need to make?
1. Balance Personal and Professional Communication
Construction managers assign work, encourage productivity, deliver performance updates and more. Past relationships will change, including those with supervisors and managers. However, managers must adopt a new perspective in order to balance their new responsibilities with past tendencies.
Of course, career progression doesn’t need to end friendships. Open communication is still vital, and maintaining good relationships with your team is crucial for business success. According to one poll, 91% of employees claim their leaders have communication issues. Personable communication can greatly improve employee experiences.
New construction managers can go far by striking a balance between personal and professional communication. Since your primary responsibility is leadership, it’s important to set clear expectations with your team. However, discussing personal lives and sharing encouraging thoughts can help your coworkers see you as someone with everyone’s best interests at heart.
2. Train as Often as Possible
Seasoned employees know the work that makes a construction business tick. However, once in a management position, they need a new perspective to fit the role. Even those on the job for a long time can benefit from opportunities to learn and grow in the construction industry.
Some construction companies offer training programs for new managers, and this is a great step for employees. Construction supervisors deal with many concerns workers don't tend to worry about in their day-to-day. For instance, managers need to consider job-site safety, proper scheduling, unmotivated colleagues and much more.
Monitoring the safety of a team is a monumental task in and of itself. The four primary causes of worker harm in the construction industry include falling, getting struck by an object, getting electrocuted and getting caught between machinery. However, OSHA investigations indicate that almost all accidents are preventable with educational assistance.
Health and safety on the jobsite is a significant responsibility to shoulder. Construction managers will need to take action to protect their team and maintain a jobsite that safeguards health. Fortunately, further training builds a solid foundation that prepares workers for the ins and outs of the role.
3. Make Measured Changes
New candidates are always motivated and ready to make sweeping changes. They're prepared to enforce functional changes that improve team performance. Unfortunately, managers can sometimes negatively impact productivity if they rock the boat before a team is ready. People need adequate time to learn new protocols.
Change is necessary in the construction business — but it’s often wise to take it slow to start. Try to honor existing operations while implementing new ones. Supervisors must understand why some processes work, and others don't. The team must trust management has their best interests at heart.
Get everyone on board, then make changes one-at-a-time. If everything runs smoothly, then new managers can start scaling up to create meaningful business impact.
4. Seek Mentorship
According to one study, employees who participate in mentorships get promoted five times more than those who don't. They also see a higher salary change — 25% compared to 5%.
Find a mentor or colleague in a supervisory position and take inspiration from their work. Hands-on insight is an effective way to learn, and new managers can achieve more at an accelerated pace when they draw inspiration from those who have already climbed the career ladder.
This is especially important for women and minorities, who are often underrepresented in the field. Mentors who have overcome similar obstacles to excel in leadership can be an invaluable resource for new construction managers who face more barriers to career advancement in the construction industry.
5. Start Delegating
It's impossible for one person to do everything. Management duties often overshadow busy work, making delegation necessary for success. Any effective leader must learn how to dole out responsibilities to the right people at the right time.
Supervisors must avoid the temptation to oversee every task. Their primary responsibility is to manage the team and ensure everyone is staying on task. Managers cannot supervise the operation if they’re too busy in the trenches.
6. Learn to Manage Time
In the construction industry, time management is crucial. Each project comes with a deadline. It's a supervisor's duty to ensure workers meet it. For those who aren't careful, unknown nuances can eat away at time. For example, an unruly or unmotivated worker may leave a lot of slack, and other employees may need to put in overtime to pick it up.
According to one study, employees — including management — waste a total of 759 hours each year due to distractions. Effective managers keep a strict eye on deadlines. They also build catch-up time directly into schedules in case of delay or emergency.
From Worker to Manager — Take Construction Promotion in Stride
As stressful as the move from construction worker to management may be, it’s an incredible achievement. Hardworking individuals, especially those with experience, deserve a promotion. Construction managers can follow the six tips above to succeed in their roles and step into a new position with grace.