Construction Crew Management: The Ultimate Guide

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  • 10 min read
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    Improve your construction crew management with this complete guide. Increase construction crew efficiency, optimize scheduling, and manage your time tracking.

    To get the job done, you need your employees there on time and ready to work. But you can’t be everywhere at once. Use construction crew management techniques to get the most out of your employees—even when you can’t physically be on-site.

    Successful construction crew management combines scheduling, tracking, and conflict management strategies. Inspire your employees to work harder, achieve more, and get the job done with the right management techniques.

    Let’s take a deeper look at how you can start managing your crew more effectively, starting today.

    Most Common Mistakes in Construction Crew Management

    One person is never enough. If you’re trying to manage your construction crews with a small office, you’re probably finding gaps in your process. Workers aren’t scheduled correctly, jobs aren’t completed on time, and hours don’t add up.

    Construction companies grow, often at a surprising rate. One year you’re taking on five jobs a month, but the following year, you realize you’re taking on two dozen. But your processes haven’t changed. You’re still using paper timesheets, still scheduling employees through text, and still struggling.

    You need a new strategy. 

    That doesn’t mean that you have to create organizational flow charts or buy an expensive software platform—but it does mean that you need to reconsider what is and isn’t working for you. You need better ways to schedule, monitor, and manage your employees. You need to analyze and optimize your job costs and improve your working efficiency.

    The Most Common Construction Crew Management Mistakes
    It’s time to ditch the paper processes. Many owners, supervisors, and managers make the mistake of holding onto their old processes and technology as their company grows. 
    You could be wasting time by:
    Scheduling employees manually
    Tracking time inaccurately with paper timesheets
    Failing to communicate effectively with employees

    How Do You Manage Manpower in Construction?

    In construction, the most important factor for success is manpower. Managing your workforce is like managing any other resource. Before making any decisions, ask yourself the following questions:

    • How many workers do you have available?
    • Where are their skills needed?
    • Where can they be most efficiently deployed?

    Optimizing schedules, managing job costs, and improving communication—all these things are critical parts of workforce management.

    In construction, projects may require many workers with different sets of skills. Teams may be required to work either in tandem or one after the other, requiring complex scheduling that ensures that everyone can coordinate their way through multiple projects.

    The more information you have about where your workforce is and how your workforce is performing, the better you will be able to estimate and predict your work in the future. Better estimates mean better returns.

    Coordinate Your Manpower Better
    Having the right workers isn’t enough. Your role as a manager is to deploy them effectively. To better coordinate your workers: 
    Know where your employees are at all times
    Manage all scheduling through a single, consolidated system
    Analyze the true labor costs and construction job costs for each project

    How Do You Manage a Construction Schedule?

    You get a call at 9 AM. The job was supposed to start two hours ago. 

    Where’s your team?

    If you’re still managing a construction schedule by verbally telling your employees where to go, things will get missed. You’re only one person—you can’t be everywhere at once. And managing a team of three is fundamentally a different process from managing a team of 30. 

    You need to improve your construction crew scheduling through consolidation, prediction, and real-time deployment.

    Consolidation
    Prediction
    Deployment
    Consolidate your scheduling through a single application rather than trying to manage it through text or phone calls. Use dashboards to see, at a glance, where your employees are scheduled the next day.
    Based on your reports of previous jobs, predict how many workers you’ll need for each current project. Use online scheduling to visualize how workers will move from project to project throughout the day.
    Deploy employees on-the-fly based on where they are with the power of real-time GPS mapping. When you know where your employees are in real-time, you can deploy the closest employees to a given site.

    Scheduling is everything. You can’t effectively use your labor if it’s not there. As you take on more projects and hire more employees, you will need the right technology—otherwise, things will fall through the cracks.

    Improve Your Construction Crew Scheduling
    Start improving your construction crew scheduling today by investing in the right technology. Your technology should provide you and your employees with a consolidated view of your schedules.
    Manage schedules through a single, accessible dashboard.Let employees request time off and manage shifts online.Ensure that employees can access their own schedules from wherever they are.

    How Do You Track Construction Crew Time?

    You can track your crew time through paper timesheets, digital timesheets, apps, and GPS time clock technology. Some small contractors are still receiving employee timesheets in text messages—but that’s not the best solution.

    Paper timesheets, digital timesheets, and apps can all be inaccurate. When employees are in charge of logging their hours, hours are frequently rounded or estimated. And, of course, they may just make mistakes—especially if they’re entering their time weekly instead of daily. Employee time theft is another unfortunate occurrence if you do not have a robust tracking system in place.

    GPS time clock apps accurately log employee hours by tracking where employees are. Not only are employee hours recorded down to the minute, but they’re allocated on a project-by-project basis—making it easier to estimate project time and expenses. These apps also help you implement consistent time clock rules for your hourly employees to ensure compliance.

    Track Employee Time Accurately
    A GPS time clock app will track employee time accurately for better estimates and easier payroll.
    Always know where your employees are.
    Accurately track the work hours spent on each project.
    Avoid paying for overestimated hours.

    Find Your Construction Crew Management Style

    Management styles matter. There are three main management styles: micromanagement, hands-off, and strategic. Most contractors have a management style that’s a blend of these three.

    Micromanagement
    Hands-Off
    Strategic
    The micromanager is the type of manager who is heavily involved in their employees’ scheduling and day-to-day tasks. They prefer to be involved in all aspects of the job. This management style can also be seen as dictatorial or authoritarian, but it doesn’t have to be.
    A hands-off manager is the opposite of a micromanager. They are not involved in the daily tasks of their employees and prefer to give their workers freedom and autonomy. Sometimes, this leads to improved innovation. Other times, workers find themselves lost, confused, or without direction.
    The strategic manager strikes a balance between the other two—actively involved in some aspects of their workers’ jobs while allowing freedom in others. Strategic managers understand their employees’ strengths, when to trust them, and when they need help.

    Some people naturally lend themselves to one management style over the other—and that’s okay. If you prefer, for instance, to be a more “hands-off” manager, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be more strategic. It just means that you need to hire the right people and use the right tools.

    Develop Your Management Style
    Which of these styles sounds the most like you? What are the potential pitfalls of that management style—and how can they best be mitigated?
    Micromanagers are perfectionists. But they may not have enough time in the day to manage all their employees. Leverage technology to give yourself a bird’s eye view of what’s occurring on-site.
    Hands-off managers are laid back. They trust their employees to get things done. But they still need to maintain control over the job. Utilize reports and data to analyze the speed of projects and employees’ effectiveness.
    Strategic managers are agile. They work to understand where they are and aren’t needed. Strategic managers can use scheduling, time management, and labor management tools to identify areas of necessary improvement. 

    Manage Construction Crew Conflicts 

    There will always be conflict in the workplace. What’s important is how you deal with that conflict when it arises.

    Some managers prefer to solve all conflicts themselves, dictating how to resolve each issue. Others believe that if they step back and allow their workers to solve problems independently, it will create a more autonomous and cohesive work environment.

    In leadership, there are four main conflict management styles:

    • Challenging. The goal is to come out on top, even if it means damaging relationships or alienating workers.
    • Accommodating. The goal is to meet the other person’s needs, even if it means sacrificing your own goals.
    • Avoidant. The goal is to keep the peace, even if it means not addressing important issues.
    • Collaborative. The goal is to create a win-win situation for all parties involved.

    Example: An employee consistently comes to work late but clocks in on time. Different conflict management styles would address this problem differently:

    • Challenging: Dock the employee the hours and write them up.
    • Accommodating: Reschedule the employee, so they work later.
    • Avoidant: Avoid discussing the problem with the employee entirely.
    • Collaborative: Talk to the employee about the problems they’re facing.

    In this scenario with a collaborative conflict management style, the manager talks to the employee. The employee had no idea they were coming in to work late; they were just getting there, doing their job, and estimating their hours. So better timekeeping is the answer.

    Address Conflict Early in the Workplace
    Conflict can be damaging to productivity and efficiency. The longer a situation goes on, the more damaging it can potentially be. To appropriately address conflict:
    Address conflict as early as possible to minimize impact.
    Communicate with employees about conflicts before making decisions.
    Be firm about necessary outcomes and flexible about how you achieve them.

    Encourage Construction Crew Productivity by Celebrating Success

    Gift cards, bonuses, paid time off, and flex time are all things that can reward construction crew productivity. When they do a good job, you make money. You have a vested interest in making sure that your employees make money too.

    It’s important to celebrate wins, even when things don’t go perfectly. This can be something as simple as providing lunch or taking the crew out for beers after work on a Friday.

    The more valued a team feels the more they will be willing to go the extra mile for their company. But if a team feels as though their compensation doesn’t change even if they do an exceptional job, they may cease to care.

    Celebrate Your Construction Team’s Success
    Celebrating the success of your construction crew won’t just ensure that they feel valued but will help you retain the best workers.
    Reward employees for exceptional productivity.
    Be creative about bonuses, such as parties or paid time off.
    Be clear about your expectations and how to go above and beyond.

    Understand the Best Construction Crew Efficiency

    Know when it’s better to employ better equipment or contract out your labor. If your crew can’t put a roof on for less than $15,000, hire someone who can. If your crew’s concrete finisher isn’t available, contract it out. Often, you lose money trying to do jobs that you’re ill-suited for when cheaper resources are already there.

    If you find that a particular task is too difficult or time-consuming for your crew, it may be time to outsource it. Contract with another company or hire an individual skilled in that area. You can preserve your bottom line while moving on to the next project.

    Sometimes It’s Better To Ask for Help
    Finishing a project earlier means you can take the cash and move on to the next job. Don’t let a difficult project hold you back. You can speed up a project by investing in:
    New tools and equipment
    Better machines and tools for specific tasks
    Specialized training for your crew
    The services of other qualified professionals

    Best Practices of Construction Crew Management 

    Keep these best practices in mind when you’re scheduling your construction crews:

    1. Schedule your workers based on their skills and availability
    2. Make everyone aware of the project goals and deadlines
    3. Track employee hours to make sure they’re used efficiently
    4. Delegate tasks and responsibilities directly leaving no room for guesswork
    5. Encourage communication and coordination between workers
    6. Regularly review job costs and performance metrics
    7. Implement standardized processes and procedures
    8. Stay organized and keep track of your resources

    With the right crew management tools and practices, you can streamline your construction process, improve communication, and maximize your workforce’s efficiency. 

    Better Construction Crew Management With Workyard

    You know how to manage a construction crew. But sometimes, a company just grows too fast. It’s a good problem to have, but it’s still a problem. When managing five people turns into managing 50, you need an entirely different set of processes, tools, and strategies. 

    Construction crew management is about clear, consistent communication. Employees must understand your ultimate goals and what’s expected of them—once that’s handled, everything else should just fall into place.

    Workyard can help you improve your workforce management in a few critical ways:

    • Simplifying your time tracking 
    • Improving your scheduling
    • Tracking your employees in real-time

    Accurately track employee hours, keep schedules consistent, and get a better handle on your workers’ productivity and efficiency with optimized construction crew management. It’s just a click away. Check out a free trial of Workyard today.

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