Construction Monkey

Construction Monkey Blog

No matter where you sit in your organization I would like for you to take a different look at your job duties.  Over the years the titles for different positions have become pretty standardized, Project Manager, Superintendent, Estimator, Salesman, Manager, etc.  The actual duties of these positions vary drastically from company to company and as you are aware may vary from employee to employee.  We typically view our jobs and the jobs of our subordinates and bosses by "what they are supposed to do", well I want you to forget that in 2010.  Instead lets start to define the roles by "what they should accomplish".

If you own the company, this is probably how you view people already, but for the rest of the employees it is not quite that clear.  It is pretty simple, think of it like a housekeeper you may hire at home.  You are really paying them to accomplish cleaning the house not to vacuum, dust, etc.  If you define it by all of the little items, then what happens when there is a piece of trash that is blown into the yard?  If it is not on the list than they should not have to do it, but if you are under the agreement that you will pay them to accomplish getting the house clean, then it clearly is in the scope of the job.

Am I just playing semantics?  Maybe a little, but language matters.  How individuals see their job and how it is communicated makes a world of difference.  It also puts them in a point of responsibility.  The housekeeper is responsible for figuring out the duties required to accomplish the job.  Under the other scenario, we are telling the housekeeper that we don't think they can figure out what to do, so here is a list of what you should do.

So let's figure out some new titles:

Estimator Typically an Estimator job is to cover the costs.  We develop big manuals defining how to takeoff a project and then how to input it into the system.  Try to reinforce that an Estimator's real job is to find the cheapest route to constructing the product.  They should identify potential pit falls, but it should be left to others to place contingency on the job or additional profits, an Estimator needs to always find the lowest cost solution to the project. (See Salesman too as many Estimators also do sales)
Salesman He or she needs to get work at the best possible price.  For a sales person it is not acceptable to just win a some orders, you must get those at the maximum possible value.  If they realize that the best bid is to be $1 cheaper than #2 then your Estimator and Salesman can maximize your bid time potential for profit.
Project Manager The PM typically has list of duties of that are longer than both my arms, yet what they have to accomplish is stated so simply.  Ensure that the project runs efficiently so that the quality, customer satisfaction, and company profit is not sacrificed.  They need to be your risk manager on looking for potential pitfalls and ensuring that they don't cost you money at the end of a project.
Superintendent Productivity, craftsmanship, and safety.  Pretty simple (yet tough to do).  The Superintendent has a lot of accountability like a Project Manager, but the focus is singular on the project that it is specified.
Accountant Assistance to others.  The accountant should be the person that is at the ready to assist anyone of the people above.  They should be ensuring job costs are right for the PM, that indirect and overhead rates are accurate and not inflated for the Estimator, and they should be helping the managers with technical reports.

Take a new look at the way everyone views their position.  I bet if you go ask a PM what their job is today, they will respond to go to this meeting and to fill out that TPS report.  If that is the case, try and mold their perspective on their job as it will help out your 2010 and your company.

About the Author

Craig Pierce

Craig Pierce has been working in the construction industry for the past 25 years helping subcontractors master their trade. Currently he is President of Atalanta Enterprises which provides consulting services to contractors And software solutions through