Working Independently in Construction
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Our company’s Operations Department recently implemented the use of Microsoft Teams, a tool designed to assist with ensuring smooth communication, particularly whilst working remotely.  Recently someone posted the following meme to Teams:

When it comes to having the ability to work independently—irrespective of location—this is present across the DiSC styles.  Certain styles may appear to be better at working independently, but once you understand how the epithet “independent” is applied from the perspective of an employer, you will appreciate that your perception may not necessarily be in accord with reality. Your job security may be affected by your perception of how well you work, and that may be affected by what you understand by “working independently.”

If you work for a company employing at least two persons, independent work is an oxymoron.   Employers need you to work on tasks by yourself using the tools provided you whilst also understanding this work is not utterly independent, for the entire team is working towards the same goal together.  Everything you do affects something or someone else within your organization.

Construction companies typically devote much of their focus and energy to successfully delivering on a building project whilst meeting expectations on time, budget and quality.  And yet, we all know building the project is only one of many tasks within a construction firm.  Without seeing the whole, an individual employee may completely innocently perform in such a way that he harms profits or client relationships, or trigger costly litigation.

How do you work on your independent work with the right balance of “working independently “within a team and organization?

Your direct connecting co-workers

Connecting with everyone else to complete the puzzle….

First, understand who is on your team and what is important to them.  How do they like to communicate? How do your responsibilities connect to theirs?

Next, know what you are expected to do, to avoid miscommunication and mishandling of responsibilities.

Where are the people and the items you need in order to fulfill your responsibilities? This is where the different personality styles tend to make a difference.  If you are a cost accountant supporting a project manager, you often prefer they email you everything and plan everything in advance.  If you are a superintendent or project manager, you often prefer to communicate when you are in the office or by telephone, and not always on a set schedule.  Though each request makes total sense for each role to best complete their jobs independently, they can’t complete the overall job expected by the company without information from each other to do their jobs. They need to find the best way for both to communicate accurate and timely information to one another.  Communication and compromise.

Knowing when your teammates or supervisor is expecting something to be delivered to them is likewise important.  Milestone updates and reviews along the way prevent disappointment on both sides when you work hard on something that seems perfect to you.  When you reveal pieces of the puzzle along the way to everyone involved, it allows you to receive important feedback and input.

Lastly, ensure you understand why you are doing what you do.  If a company services the healthcare industry, there is probably a purpose behind everything they do, no matter how big or small.  The same applies with the Luxury Residential, Federal, and Retail industries. It may be because of how the company is structured (LLC, S Corp, etc), or because of an owner preference.  Whatever the reason know the “why” and “who”.  If it is a new project or new client, Preconstruction may need to share “why”s with the field team to drive success.

To working independently together,

Suzanne Breistol

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