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The Importance of Culture on a Jobsite

A project I worked on showed me the importance of building and maintaining a positive workplace culture and the impact it can have on CRBers and trade partners. I hope this inspires you to foster a culture of respect on your current project teams.

I recently completed a pre-mobilization job walk with a CRB trade partner and headed into the office to debrief their team on our company's safety standards and job site expectations. As our in-office meeting was wrapping up, the trade partner's Vice President (VP) of Operations commented how there was something different about this job site that he could not quite pinpoint. He mentioned how there was a difference in the way he felt working in his short time onsite with CRB that he had not felt on other projects.

Deep down, I knew what he was talking about and told him what it was ─ our project culture. The VP thought about that for a minute, and eventually, he agreed. Our project culture of accountability, trust, transparency, and, most of all, respect for people was something he could feel in his limited time working with us.

After hearing one of the best compliments that we could have received, I began thinking about what it is that CRBers do differently to create this incredible culture. I realized that it all boils down to our respect for people.

Respect for people

This is the core concept in lean construction and one that I think people have the hardest time implementing. Respect for people is more than saying thank you to the crew after a long day or throwing a barbecue when the team hits a milestone. Though these activities are great and should be done, there's more that we can do to take extra care in respecting people, and CRBers do this exceptionally well. Some examples include:

  • Going the extra mile to check in on your team periodically

  • Using team health surveys to keep a pulse on the team

  • Listening to feedback from others

  • Standing up for team members even when they are not there to defend themselves

  • Understanding that your workforce is encompassed of people and is not just employees

  • Working to build those personal relationships with every team member

  • Realizing that everyone on the team has a life outside of work and respecting their work-life balance

Aside from getting to know the crew on a personal level, I believe there are two ways to show this respect for each other on a project: doing what you say you are going to do and removing constraints for your teams.

Do what you say you are going to do

This is quite simple to say, but it is much more difficult to achieve.

When discussing the project with our trade partner weeks before his visit, our team told him exactly what the site would look like when he arrived. We explained in detail where we would be at with construction and all the prerequisite work that would be completed by the time he came onsite.

Keeping to our word, by the time our trade partner made it to the site, it was exactly as we said it would be. This shows that our job site meets our commitments and helps to pull our trade partners into the same mindset.

I am confident that his team will perform at the same level as our other trade partners because they saw that our team does what we say we are going to do, which builds trust between our teams.

Remove constraints

We brought this partner in early as a design partner for our project. This was my first time working with this company, and they were a little skeptical of the process we were proposing. I asked them to trust our CRB team and give our model a chance.

As design started, their team continually came to us with constraints that needed to be removed for them to continue. They would tell us things like, “We need this detail revised.” Their team also asked, “Can you confirm that field dimension?” and “Can I start at this end rather than the other?” almost daily. Our team responded to their concerns and questions almost immediately, never having their team wait more than 24 hours for a response. Because of our quick turnaround time, we kept them moving on the project and increased their output. By removing constraints for our trade partners to do their work, we continued to build trust and accountability between our teams.

Jobsite culture can make or break a project. In my opinion, the best culture is one where all team members are respected. By doing what you say you will do and removing constraints, you are building a sense of trust within your team which is crucial for a successful project.

I encourage you to take the time to decide what you want your project culture to be. A positive culture does not just happen by chance. It takes continuous, intentional effort to instill a sense of empowerment, respect, and belonging in a team. Though it may take some work to get the momentum moving in a positive direction, it will pay off in the long run.


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