The Leader of the Pack – From Super Superintendent to Field Operations

“Transitioning to Supervisor”.   So much is involved with transitioning into leadership, and that it is therefore unsurprising that so many people struggle with it.

You must be pro-active on your own to stay a head of the pack. Everyone wants top pay and a better job but only you are in control of your destination.

For example: Master an estimating software such as the Best Bid Hybrid Pro. This will put you above the competition. Master Accura Cadd so you can pop out a drawing when no one else can. Simple things like this make you valuable.

In our Super Superintendent post a few weeks ago week, we noted that the best traits of a lead project superintendent include taking ownership of job sites by interacting daily with project team members and sub-contractors.  However, a project superintendent’s territory is confined to a singular geographic location for the duration of the project.

Therefore, when transitioning from that role to a Corporate General Superintendent (also referred to as a Field Operations Manager), your mindset will require a 180-degree shift.

As you shift from being the “doer” in the field to being the coach assisting the “doers” in achieving their objectives, you need to adjust from asking these questions of yourself:

  • Am I in control of my project?
  • Am I directly communicating with the trades?
  • Am I taking responsibility for meeting the project schedule?
  • Am I walking my job site multiple times a day to observe and correct workers?
  • Am I doing my daily job site reporting?
  • Am I directly speaking to the team that reports to the project lead superintendent?

…To asking these:

  • Are the superintendents I lead in control of their projects?
  • Have I provided them with what they need in order to communicate with and manage their trades?
  • Am I holding them accountable to meeting their assigned project schedule?
  • Am I visiting the respective superintendents’ job sites weekly? And if so, what do I expect to see when I arrive?
  • Am I training, reviewing, monitoring and holding accountable the superintendents who report to me?
  • Am I listening, observing and coaching the field superintendents on how to better communicate with and lead their teams?

When adjusting your role from player to coach, it is important to remember that a coach’s job is to help people achieve a more meaningful and satisfying career, and in turn, a more successful life. Coaching others means looking to the future and helping them to be the best versions of themselves, while also maintaining faith in their desire to succeed.

Coaching also involves teaching others how to manage their emotions, specifically in helping them understand that while it is normal for feel a wide array of emotions in the course of a job, it is important to take responsibility for one’s actions and not allow these feelings to negatively impact one’s work.

As the coach, it is important to earn the respect of the people you are leading, and one recurring opportunity to achieve this occurs quite frequently.

Oftentimes a project team member or sub-contractor with a complaint will bypass the normal chain of command to communicate with the Corporate General Superintendent directly.  If a worker approaches you in these circumstances, you should inquire as to whether he has addressed the issue with his supervisor.  Even if he has, it would be best to invite his immediate supervisor into the conversation before allowing the complaint to progress.

You should also empower the direct supervisor to lead the conversation and mediate between him and the complainant only if the discussion goes in a negative direction.

While this may be more difficult and time-consuming at first, particularly when Superintendents are especially inclined to desire rapid and conclusive results, it is nonetheless important to find out what you don’t know about the situation.  If you can restrain yourself from interfering with the project superintendent’s communication and decisions, you will achieve the respect from your team that will accelerate your own career. The performance of your team will speak volumes about your leadership.