It’s a Different Level of Work

As Phillip simmered, he finally blurted out, “But they should know how to schedule. How hard is that?”

“I don’t know, Phillip. How complicated are your scheduling logistics?” I asked.

“It’s just getting the materials and the people scheduled. How hard could it be.” Phillip was firm.

“What is the biggest problem they face in scheduling?”

Phillip thought for a minute, hoping to tell me there were never problems, but he knew better. “I guess the biggest problem is coordinating with the other subs on the job, to make sure their work is finished and the project is ready for the work we do. Since the subs don’t work for us, coordinating is sometimes difficult.”

“So, how do you train your PMs to deal with that?”

“Train ’em. They’re just supposed to know that they have to go check.” It was not a good answer and Phillip began to backpedal.

I pressed. “On the job, do materials ever get back-ordered? Does a crew member ever call in sick or a whole crew get reassigned to an emergency? Does the contractor ever change something without a change order? Does a piece of heavy equipment get delayed on another project and not show up? Does a dumpster load sometimes not get switched out in time. Does a code inspector sometimes not show up?

“Tell me, Phillip. How do you train your Project Managers to create and maintain schedules?”

Phillip hesitated. He knew any response would just sound like an excuse.

“Phillip, here is the critical factor. Actually doing the work is completely different from making sure the work gets done. It’s a different role in the company. It has its own skill set. You didn’t hire for it, you didn’t train for it, and, right now, it’s killing you.”

One thought on “It’s a Different Level of Work

  1. Chris Coates

    This is spot on – expectations are often unfulfilled because assumptions related to “common sense” are made. “They should know.” “Everyone knows that.”

    Not to get carried away (and I will because I’m one of those Army guys), but extreme ownership requires accountability and not excuses, and training the right person in the right role is critical to getting results. Training should take place along with confirmation of outcomes until “muscle memory” ensures that steps are taken to eliminate gaps.

    In the world of surgery, a nurse that fails to correctly perform a “time-out” procedure (double checking next steps with another team member) in the operating room might mean a wrong-site surgery, or worse. That’s why in every operating room where a surgeon and others are “scrubbed in” performing a procedure there is a nurse “circulator” observing and advocating for the patient and for safety. Ever had surgery and go home to later develop an issue because forceps or a suture needle or a sponge was left inside you? Likely not, because someone trained to do the work correctly performed the operation, while someone trained to make sure the work was done safely was watching. If you have ever had an issue (medication error, wrong site surgery, retained object), likely the root cause will be related to someone’s failure to make sure the work gets done.

    Here’s to hiring for both roles, and training for outcomes.


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