At Florida Construction Connection, we begin each week with an AHOD meeting. “All Hands on Deck” meetings last an hour or less per week and consist of all members of the company coming together to review the events of the previous week, set the course for the current week, and discuss a chapter from the latest team-voted book we are reading.
The book we are presently studying is Atomic Habits by James Clear. It discusses Mr. Clear’s study of habits, and offers insight and suggestions as to why we form habits, how to break bad habits, and how to establish good habits. He explains rather quickly in the first few chapters how a habit is formed in the brain. He writes that “a habit that has been encoded in the mind is ready to be used whenever the relevant situation arises.”
How does this apply to your career in construction?
The proven leaders in our industry know that they don’t depend on software or personal assistants to help them meet deadlines and manage risk in the construction process. Although they continue to utilize many tools and team members to achieve their goals, they have formed habits to help them achieve the objectives even if desired assistance was not available.
The major phases of the construction process are Initiation (Concept and Design), Planning (Pre-Construction stage), Execution (Procurement), Monitoring (Building Stage), and Completion (Post-Construction stage).
Warren Buffet says that “chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”
Most habit-abiding construction management professionals have learned important lessons the hard way. For instance, even if Procore or the prospective software has been updated to show that certain work is in place, there may be discrepancies if the work is not visually verified.
Successful construction managers form good habits such as making time to plan, set-up and organize a project, and each day utilizing proper communication habits to document the process.
They also learn habits like sending confirmation emails after telephone calls regarding the status of a project to solidify what was said. Such an email may be as simple as writing, “Per our conversation with respect to the change of tile layout for the main area, we will proceed and it will not affect the price.” Or, “As discussed with the Owner’s Representative Jim Smith, today we will be going to redesign building B. We will halt all further construction at this time on that building and proceed forward with completion of building A. Further instructions will come after the redesign meeting on Friday.”
Superintendents form habits such as walking the jobsite regularly, first thing in the morning and last thing at night to form status visuals. They have a habit of making sure they are the first ones to arrive on the site and the last ones to leave. They form the habit of studying the plans in depth before a project begins, as well as daily throughout the project. They also form habits of completing their daily reports at a certain time each day and making sure proper details are in each report.
Top Project Managers form habits knowing their days can pass in a flash and change in an instant. They typically start their day by communicating with stakeholders of the project, analyzing the schedule and resources, and confirming that the plan for the day is still on course. The top project managers always ask their stakeholders, “what do you need from me?” and do not wait for others to ask them for help. They are the quarterbacks of the team and know that the best habits to have are constantly checking, directing, and preparing for the next play. Project Managers form the habits of setting time aside to document and complete change orders, review pay apps, and other items throughout a project in a timely manner. For they know it may hold someone else up from doing his job, or alter the cash flow at the company.
Depending on your motivators and stressors, forming these habits may appear different from others in the same role. The goal is to achieve the result consistently. The book Atomic Habits is divided into 4 laws: Law #1, “Make it Obvious”; Law #2, “Make it Attractive”; Law #3, “Make it Easy”; and Law #4, “Make it Satisfying”.
If you are not achieving the desired results on your projects or at your company, creating new habits could be the answer!