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 out. In hockey, an individual’s abilities can be greatly enhanced by the power of the team. A rag tag bunch of mediocre players that have the right work ethic, integrity and dedication and with the right management can be a super team.

In business and in any team sport, it is important that every player know exactly what their job is and know 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.

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 that is 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 be 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; there are defined roles and responsibilities, there are 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, to address any issues before they become problems.

  • Post-project Review Meetings should occur for every project. These 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 man power projections? Did we control costs? Did we satisfy our client? These gatherings are opportunities to learn from mistakes, address areas for improvement and celebrate our 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. 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 jobsite 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 about ASSUME.

  • Board Meetings Do you have regular Board Meetings? Do even you 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, what you can be doing better. You should review your processes, review your profit and loss, review your major customers and review your staff. As with the previous meetings, this is not just a talking fest but an opportunity to drive continuous improvement.

See 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 (and 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. The tools are there for your use, but they only work if you use ‘em!

Tags: MBCEA , MBI , Gary Smith ,

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