What Does It Take To Be A Great Superintendent?

After the dust of a big pitch settles and a project has been awarded, the construction owner must make the first big decision that will affect every aspect of the project’s progress going forward — who will be the superintendent? It takes more than just book smarts to be an effective superintendent of a construction crew. This person needs the skill, grit, and determination to get a project done on time (and under budget, even!) and more.

A great superintendent, someone who gets called back for the next project, recommended by workers, praised in the community for their steadfastness — they must have that extra oomph that sets them apart. But where does that oomph come from?

True Vision

The great superintendent looks forward, toward the future of the project (and the company). Before even setting pencil to paper he or she must have clarity about what kind of construction company they want to promote and the determination to apply those principles on the ground level. How do they want to lead? Do they care about being respected? Or feared? What is the work culture they want to bring to the table as the face of the project and the person everybody looks up to?

Always Learning, Always Teaching

It’s important for a true visionary to continue learning so they can pass knowledge onto their crew. It’s not enough to understand the project at hand. They must understand every aspect of it. Developing an ongoing training schedule and a company culture that respects learning is a must. When the team looks up to their superintendent as not just “the boss” but someone who gives advice — that’s a real leader.

It isn’t enough anymore to have each member of the team specialize in one thing; the greater the diversity of the workers, the more that they can competently do, the better the project will go. Cross-trained workers can hop into different jobs, and if they’re taught new skills on site, they’ll know their superintendent cares about their futures.

Communication is Key

It’s easier said than done, but there are few things more frustrating than somebody claiming to be a great leader while being unable to communicate their vision. They create a sense of emergency and instead of holding daily meetings with all of the crews on a project they panic and sweat the big picture. But it’s the details and an ability to share them in a precise way — one that works for each crew — that makes all the difference.

So, do you want to be just a manager of the team or do you want to be a respected leader who’s earned their position and the respect of their crews?

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