It Takes a Team

Thomas C Schleifer, Ph.D.

Even with a visionary founder or CEO firmly in control, a professional team is necessary to execute the founder’s or CEO’s vision of success. As I referenced in last week’s message, day to day management of construction work is like jumping from stone to stone. However, corporate and business management is a complex task that requires a totally different combination of skills, knowledge, and experience. In the highly competitive construction industry success depends on the ability to deliver high-quality projects on time, within budget, to the satisfaction of the client. An effective management team is, therefore, essential to achieve the company’s vision of success that inspires the organization. 

Obviously the skills and ability to produce the work are critical, but organizations that lack that ability simply fail in their first five to ten years. Companies that endure through startup then need to develop or hire the business skills to succeed through survival, success, growth, and maturity stages. The company needs the key people with the skills and abilities required to excel going forward. Which are: 

Project Managers

Effective project managers have always been recognized as the backbone of successful construction companies. They must be skilled at planning, organizing, and controlling resources to achieve specific goals and objectives. Project managers must be able to manage budgets, schedules, and personnel effectively, while also ensuring that quality standards are met, and safety regulations are followed. They must also be able to communicate effectively with clients, stakeholders, and other team members; and be able to resolve conflicts and problems quickly and efficiently.

Financial Managers

CFOs and their teams are responsible for managing cash flow, budgets, and expenses that ensure that the company is profitable. Financial professionals must be able to analyze financial statements, identify trends, and make strategic decisions that will ensure the financial health of the company. They must also be able to ensure that contracts and agreements with clients, suppliers, and subcontractors address and manage all of the inherent risks effectively.

Human Resource Managers

Human resource managers attract and retain skilled and motivated employees and ensure that these team members are trained and developed to execute the company’s vision. They must also be able to manage and measure all levels of employee performance effectively and see that these employees are appropriately rewarded for their contributions to the success of the company. Human resource managers are the team builders who understand, perhaps better than anyone else, that construction contracting is a service provided by workers skilled in individual segments of the building process. Contractors do not sell construction but rather sell and manage construction skills. The ability of their team is their product. 


Finally, effective communication is essential for all managers in a construction company. Managers must be able to communicate effectively with clients, stakeholders, and team members, and ensure that everyone is working towards executing the company’s vision. They must also be able to resolve conflicts and problems quickly and efficiently and communicate effectively with clients to ensure their satisfaction.

Team Building

Throughout my career I have referenced the primary functions of contracting with this shorthand: 1. Get the work 2. Do the work 3. Account for the work. Managing a construction company goes beyond the vision of the founder or CEO. It requires a combination of skills, knowledge, and experience. Effective project management, financial management, human resource management, and communication are all essential elements of successful management in the construction industry. Only by focusing on these areas can managers ensure that their companies are profitable, efficient, and successful in the long-term. In other words, to realize the vision of the founder or CEO – It Takes a Team.

Next Week

So far this year we have been talking about planning and capital management in this post pandemic uncertain economic environment. Over the next few weeks, we will move on to the importance of carefully assembling, motivating, and retaining a professional team that can compete successfully under any and all economic conditions.

A shortage of skilled labor has been plaguing the construction industry for the past 20 years. A limited number of skilled workers can deliver only a limited amount of construction services. Unless we begin to address this personnel shortage as an industrial community the entire industry will begin to gradually shrink on both the top and bottom line.

Guess who suffers the most when an industry faces these types of changes. The smaller and midsize businesses. If this labor shortage persists (and it will), the small and midsize construction enterprises will find themselves playing on smaller fields against bigger opponents.

Next week we will begin our discussion on team building for the good of the entire industry. Don’t miss it.

For a deeper look into growth, read more here: GROWTH

For a broader view into organizational change, read more here: Organizational Change Management

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