Richard Harris from Okappy takes a look at leadership and takes the construction sector as an example.
The Construction industry is one of the largest sectors in the UK economy, contributing £92.4 (6.4 per cent of UK GDP) in 2014 as per the Office for National Statistics (ONS) UK Labour Market, December 2014 and ONS Output in the construction industry statistics, May 2013.
The industry comprises over 280,000 businesses, it employs 2.1 million people or 6.3% of total UK employment.
However, the construction industry has been dogged by poor performance, outdated working methods and has a reputation for bad management. One of the key challenges the industry is facing is to develop good leadership.
If you are about to assume a new leadership position, what are the things you need to consider? What do you need to do well if you to hit the ground running and be as effective a leader as possible? Read on to find the best strategy for you.
Managing first impressions
You and your team will most likely be feeling nervous. You may be wondering if you are capable of carrying out your role well. Meanwhile your new staff are likely waiting for your arrival, wondering what will happen to their roles and responsibilities. The working lives of your team will most likely see a shift from their old patterns. Will you expect your staff to be in the office at 9am on the dot or will you be more flexible, perhaps demanding longer hours when work requires it and letting people come in late and leave earlier during quieter times.
To be a good leader, it’s important to manage your first impressions, as the anxiety that can be created can dramatically affect your new workforce. It is important to act like you know what you are doing (even if you don’t) and maintain high morale among workers as you settle into your new management position. In order to be successful in your new leadership role, it’s worth considering the following three things. 1) Have a workable plan, 2) Share your plan and 3) Ensure you follow your plan.Have a workable plan
This may sound obvious but many leaders wait until they assume office before they can assess what is going on and then devise a workable plan. Ideally, a good leader should create a tangible plan to analyse and collect the information and data they are after. This should happen before they have even started the role. A good leader will assess what they need to know and understand how best to uncover the information they are looking for. You should consider the people you are going to need to speak to, plan what to talk about and have an idea of how long to take to discuss any issues or concerns. Having a clear plan with a good decision making framework will make the first days and weeks in your new role more smooth. This will give you the ability to hit the ground running.
Share your plans
The second important step is to share your plans with the relevant people and at the earliest possible opportunity. However, you may need to consider the impact that your proposed changes will have on your new employees and whether any information is sensitive. You should consider if you are going to talk with everyone or whether it is best to contact key players in the team first. You should recognise whether people in the new team will be willing to come to you and share information. You should also reflect upon the best approach to interacting with them so that you can get the necessary information across.
Following the plan
The third step that is very important is to follow up with your plan. You should talk to your people and ask as many questions as possible. For some members of your new team, these will be the first actions they will be seeing of how you intend to lead. They will be judging and trying to understand you, as you assess them. However, you need to be careful not to be seen to deviate or change your intentions even if your new team members feel uncomfortable with your approach, as this will set you off on the wrong foot. It is very important to keep your word; in short you need to walk your talk. This will help you build a positive attribute in all the actions you are going to take.
It is also a good idea to honour the hierarchy, which will likely already be in place. It’s good to go easy on people but be tough on problems.
In the Construction industry, leaders often approach a new role and try to work it all out by themselves. However, sitting in your office and making notes to yourself will not benefit you in your leadership role in the same way as having a plan, sharing it with team members and following it through. The details of the plan are less important compared to the three steps discussed above. Seeking out information in order to understand the existing problems so you and your team can come up with solutions is one of the main roles any leader should have.
Once you’ve got through the first key months of your new position, then don’t forget to keep momentum building. Check out 5 things that can make workers quit.