Just say 'yes,' and win a free consultation from Paul.

The first 13 “Just Say Yes” e-mails sent to jcridilla@aol.com become eligible for 13 hours free in company consulting to assure positive implementation of our innovative 13 team-building basics. Those companies will be able to put an end to their skilled labor shortage, and enjoy those “Three P's In A Pod” - pride, productivity and profit.

Please review last month's article (“End Your Jobsite Skilled Labor Shortage - Just Say Yes,” September 2006) and list those items that you need assistance with in your e-mail. Our last four items - Nos. 10, 11, 12 and 13 - seem to be the most frustrating for contractors. They know they need them, but they struggle to get them implemented.

My 50-plus years of jobsite exposure working with, training, supervising and socializing with craftsmen and management of all trades narrows the critical basics down to two - No. 11 (“The owner and entire management team respect and follow our posted chain of command”) and No. 12 (“Each working foreman and jobsite supervisor receives positive, team-building, human-relations training”).

I can assure you that you will never enjoy pride, productivity and profit without a written and posted chain of command, and human-relations training for every jobsite supervisor. This establishes what to do, how to do it and, most important, who is responsible for doing it!

The Chain Of Command

Last month we mentioned several of the critical needs to provide human-relations training for every jobsite supervisor. You cannot expect your supervisors to know how to train, motivate, discipline and reward their employees without proper training.

This training, along with a negotiated detailed job description called scope of work, will allow you to “just say yes” to every item on that checklist only if you post your written chain of command (organization chart) and follow it religiously.

A written chain of command is totally free and has absolutely no negatives if you use it properly. Let's look at the proper mechanics for writing and implementing your organization chart:

  • It must be on paper and posted where every employee can see whom he or she answers to and whom he or she is responsible for.

  • A vertical line on your chart defines total responsibility. This gives one the authority to tell subordinates what to do, which naturally makes you responsible for their actions. One may have any number of employees working under them, depending on their ability and the difficulties of one's workload.

    You can have only one vertical line above you. No human being can serve two masters - one boss could tell you what to do, while the other could discipline you for doing it.

    When you ask someone to do something, they can say “yes” or “no,” and they are responsible for the outcome. When you have the authority to tell someone to do something, then you must take the blame or credit. Authority and responsibility cannot be shared or overlapped. When more than one person is responsible, neither can be held accountable and results in finger-pointing.

  • A horizontal line identifies an aide or assistant who gives advice or helps in any manner, but is not responsible for your actions.

  • Actual names should be used for all administrative and management positions, down to foremen, craftsmen, apprentices or helpers on jobsites.

  • Your written chart should be updated immediately when any employee changes positions or responsibilities.

  • Your written chain of command is sending a very important message to your entire company. Be certain that it is exactly what you want them to hear.

    How many employees can you have without defining responsibility with a written chain? One! When you have only one employee, there is never a doubt about whom that person listens to, but the second employee can answer only to one of you.

    Now let's look at the problems and repercussions of not utilizing an organization chart:

  • The biggest sin is not writing the chain of command. Most of the sinners will tell you:
      1. Everybody here works for me and they know it!

      2. That chain is a silly game that belongs in the Army.

      3. I don't want some employee telling me, “That's not my job.”

  • Some have a written chain that does not tell the true story:
      1. They do not rewrite the chain when authority positions change.

      2. Without a written and posted organization chart, we have three major violators who readily assume the authority but never accept the blame:

        A. The owner of the company visits jobsites and gives orders to or disciplines employees who are directly responsible to a foreman or jobsite supervisor. In addition to being the leading cause of costly turnover, this is also the No. 1 reason why most boss' sons do not want to work in their dad's company.

        In addition, marginal employees who are not productive will ask for and get a raise from the owner; employees can get a “yes” answer from the owner when they know their immediate supervisor would say “no;” and the owner will discipline an employee, publicly, for doing exactly what his or her supervisor told him or her to do.

        B. Seniority is our next offender. It is only natural for a newer employee to take orders and do what a senior employee tells them to do. Unfortunately, it is not so natural for the senior employee to accept the blame for whatever goes wrong.

        It is also common for relatives of the boss to assume that undefined authority and shun any responsibility or blame.

        C. Last, but not least, are the overly aggressive, gutsy, pushy employees who thrive on the fact that they can tell other employees what to do and how to do it. They are also very quick to place the blame on others.

    Can you relate to an aggressive relative who has been with the company for a long time? You can easily understand why a good employee will quit and tell his or her friends not to go to work for any company without a posted and enforced chain of command. Of course, we also have those who actually quit working for you, but stay on your payroll. That is called “company cancer.”

    You cannot maintain a performance-rated construction company without defining authority and responsibility, as well as specific “scope of work” negotiated job descriptions. Many of my clients resist keeping score for fear that their employees will not want them to record everything that they did wrong or didn't do at all.

    I simply ask those clients which type of employee would resist - good ones or bad ones. Any good employee certainly wants documented credit for what they perform and readily accepts blame for whatever is their fault. Keep in mind, your good employees need and want all 13 of those innovative team-building basics.

    Let me help you and your employees enjoy those enviable “Three P's In A Pod” - pride, productivity and profit. You can take advantage of my obsession to give something back to this great construction industry by sending me an e-mail with “Just Say Yes” in the subject line.

    There is absolutely no fee for your 13 hours of consulting, if you are among the first 13 responses to this column; you will be responsible only for my expenses in visiting your company location. Or, if you prefer, fly to Orlando and work with me here.

    Believe me, 13 can be your lucky number!