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Creating a Productive Work Environment
An important organizational goal is to assist in creating a productive work environment for its employees. Traditionally, this has meant complying with the organization's polices and procedures. Generally, all organizations have similar fundamental rules and expectations. The formal processes may be found in the HR documentation, but the execution (implementation) is in operations. Both the formal and informal practices are generally reflective of the type of activity the organization engages in and the culture and climate the leadership creates. In most cases, organizations are vertically organized. This is reflective of the specialization required to manage the various departments or functions of the organization. These departments eventually tend to have their "own" goals, objectives, metrics, and even language. This internal separation and isolation among departments tends to create barriers, which impede efficient production. Invariably, improvement efforts tend to focus on the worker rather than the organizational systems. The resulting traditional interventions have been rewriting or modifying programs, training or retraining the workers, emphasizing certain aspects of the program, setting up priorities, increasing emphasis on audits and inspections, giving incentives, or enforcing disciplinary measures. There is no question that these interventions work to some extent, but eventually they all "plateau," and we know they do not achieve lasting improved results, because we tend to keep repeating them! These traditional improvement activities don't get at the underlying barriers. Yes, the worker has to work efficiently, be productive, and try to achieve and even exceed goals²but system-driven barriers cannot be overcome by greater effort on the part of the worker. First of all, there may be issues with the worker. Some of these issues may be physical or they may be "internal" to the worker, such as capability, knowledge, motivation, personality, etc. On top of these, such things as values and perception will also affect the employee's ability to perform. These should have been identified at point-of-hire, or if not, there ought to be a process that addresses these shortcomings with training, education, mentoring, coaching, constructive feedback, etc., to bring the employee up to par. Generating Greater Worker Productivity There is a general expectation that a construction worker shows up to work with sufficient knowledge and ability to perform the work. And since construction employment is at the discretion of the employer, the expectation is that, for employment to continue, a certain level of performance is expected. The challenge is how to get the additional discretionary productivity from the employee. This productivity "bonus" hinges on how the first line supervisor interacts with the workforce. Unfortunately, in construction, the first line supervisors are not given any formal training or education in this area. The expectation is that they somehow magically gain this capability upon being anointed as a supervisor. Some of the performance barriers may result from the immediate supervisor's capabilities, knowledge, motivation, and personality, much like the employee's. These are, in turn, affected by the organizational, processes, procedures, and systems that set expectations for the supervisor. Usually the supervisor comes from the ranks of the workforce. The skill set required of a productive and successful worker is to be able to perform the work effectively. This requires technical skills as well as physical ability. A worker who does this well and shows initiative may be selected to become a supervisor. However, the supervisor requires a different set of skills to be successful at this position.
for the supervisor to be successful in his/her new position. The feedback session provides an opportunity to evaluate progress. The goals become targets. toward which each individual strives. Although opinions on this process vary. metrics are required. The Importance of Proper Planning Sometimes the reason for poor performance results can be attributed to management. examining alternative techniques for dealing with these barriers and loss exposures. Goal achievement requires management. it is incumbent on management to provide the education and training required to make the new supervisor an effective member of the management team. Planning is a necessary operational tool and plays an important role in performance. If pursued properly. quality. and fosters involvement. and implementing and monitoring the results to see if. But to be an effective supervisor requires other skills that are equally or maybe more important. Peter Drucker first publicized the Management by Objectives (MBO) approach to performance management. Management by Objectives Performance management is about meeting goals. in fact. The key components of this process are: Understanding of organizational goals and objectives Effective mutual goal setting Agreement on goals and time to accomplish Support by way of necessary resources Frequent reviews and feedback Some degree of freedom in which to achieve the goals The foreman and the lead-men and the foreman and the superintendent can engage in a systematic goal setting process. Some of these required skills are administrative and human relations. This process furthers better communication and understanding as well as fosters greater accountability. the less stress is placed on the worker to achieve the productivity or any other stated goals.Let's look at the skill sets of workers. This gives the employee an opportunity to be heard and the supervisor to actively support the individual's success. Planning mostly is under the control of management. Risk assessment/management consists of the logical process of identifying and analyzing barriers to production. Giving the worker some degree of involvement in. supervisors. Since the supervisor will be supervising workers who may be less skilled. To be able to manage effectively. the collaborative nature of the process promotes cooperation. reduces tension. the barriers have been removed and the risks and loss exposures have been . selecting the most promising technique(s). Following goal setting. Much of the planning done in construction does not include a formal element of risk assessment. Construction projects are a complex dynamic in nature and conditions can and will change almost constantly. fosters better understanding. and possibly generates work arounds that may be beneficial all around. most will agree that this approach involves the establishment and communication of organizational goals and the setting of individual objectives supportive of those organizational goals. the supervisor still needs technical skills to provide the worker with guidance and support. and more importantly identify barriers that are hindering this. provide constructive feedback. Newly promoted supervisors must be given some tools with which to manage effectively. The better the planning process and the greater time spent identifying risk and barriers. the planning process as well as possible hurdles. and others in management positions. So. and understanding of. to name just a couple. and loss exposures. builds trust. there needs to be periodic progress reviews with feedback on the progress and achievement.
in the means and methods employed to get the job done. the employees learn to exercise self-direction and choose to become responsible for the organizational expectations and achievement of its goals. A comprehensive risk management process not only looks at barriers to productivity. But what about the more important "want to" element of performance? How does the supervisor motivate the employees to want to exceed the goals and perform at a superior rather than the acceptable level of performance? This is about the "human" side of management. This leads to the conclusion that the average human prefers to be directed. as well as in the processes and procedures for executing the work. and hazards. In line with theory Y thinking. controlled. Utilizing Employees' Desire To Succeed We have covered planning and risk assessment as way to assist employees in meeting their productivity goals. And. coach. the supervisor's role becomes that of a mentor. Because of this inherent dislike of work. Commitment to objectives depends on the rewards associated with them. and creativity in the solution of organizational as well as task problems is a somewhat common human trait. most importantly. So the newly appointed supervisor view of human nature will critically impact his or her interaction with the workforce. in the tactical work plan. but at all the risks that reside in field operations. this human capability is underutilized in most work settings.dealt with most effectively. The opposing theory. Theory X management thinking is that the average human being has an inherent dislike of work and will avoid it if possible. Douglas McGregor stated that much of management thinking up to that point was forged in the feudal era and needs rethinking. So in this respect. wants to avoid responsibility. Individuals will strive to achieve goals to which they are committed. or threatened so as to induce them to put forth enough effort so as to meet their goals and get their work done. is based on the following assumptions: The physical and mental effort humans exert at work is as natural as play or rest. This will drain energy from performance goals and objectives. quality. most people must be coerced. and wants security above all. theory Y. ingenuity. And the most important rewards are those that provide self-satisfaction and recognition as well as personal improvement. The ability to use one's imagination. We also covered goal setting and performance reviews as mean by which to ensure that the employee achieves their expected goals. Treating employees in line with theory X thinking creates the climate in which they will exercise remarkable ingenuity in circumventing and defeating external controls they resent. has relatively little ambition. He came up with the concept that became known as theory X and an opposing one called to theory Y. External control and the threat of sanctions are not the only means by which to get employees to work toward organizational goals. and facilitator who works toward supporting the employee in their goal attainment journey and serves as the enabler of their success . It is important for the supervisor to understand the human side of enterprise and balance it against the organization's needs and production. This speaks to the "have to" element of performance. directed.
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