Josh Lanzara has 10 years of construction experience in New York City as a Journeyman and Foreman Plumber with Plumbers Local 1, and is currently pursuing his degree in Labor Studies.
Many site managers forgo some of the basic steps that can lead to a successful coordination meeting. The result can be a frustrating, unproductive meeting, which can in turn endanger the success of the entire project. Here are 10 steps to help you avoid that fate:
1. Set the right tone.
Meetings should start around 9 or 10 a.m. Meetings should be held on site, once a week, and be run by the general contractor/general project manager in a private room where everyone can be easily heard without distraction from construction noises.
2. Have a fill-in ready.
The foreman/field project manager from each trade should attend every meeting. If not, the field super or deputy foreman or second in command should be allowed to fill in as a special occasion.
3. Have a sign-in.
Post a sign-in sheet to verify who is representing each subcontractor. At the top of the page it should include the name of the project, site address, general contractor, and blank space to fill in the date and time for the meeting. The categories to be filled in by the attendees should include their company, name, title, and signature.
4. Prepare packets.
Prepare and pass around paper packets listing the items to be addressed. Categorize the items by trade and address one issue at a time. Items can be any current or foreseeable problems, current phases of work, and expected completion time. If you don’t know what is a reasonable completion time for a certain area of work, ask the foreman. Double or even triple space the page lines so there is room for you to take notes.
5. Bring Snacks.
Bringing coffee and donuts for everyone, at least once in a while, is a gesture that is much-appreciated and money well spent when it comes to getting that little extra from your subs.
6. Provide a reference.
Have a full set of up-to-date, small scale drawings as a reference.
7. Establish a penalty for absence.
Make attendance mandatory for subcontractors with a fine for being absent. This should be clearly stated in the general job requirements. It should also go out in an email to the subcontractors to reinforce its importance. This will give the subs more motivation to attend all meetings and take them seriously. Why shouldn’t you be paid for having to pick up someone else’s slack?
8. Come armed with advice.
If someone is falling behind schedule, suggest they increase their manpower and areas of work to focus on that would bring them back up to speed.
9. Make room for discussion and suggestions.
Ask for feedback and encourage advice. Subcontractors often have opinions about how things can run more efficiently but may be reluctant to share their ideas for whatever reason. All trades should be reassured that you want everyone to have an easy job and make money, and the way to do that is by addressing current issues, looking ahead to coordinate future work, and making everyone accountable and involved with the project.
10. Project the right attitude.
The attitude you project in the meeting will be passed down from the foremen to the workers. Lead with a little energy and professionalism. Show a sense of pride about the project and promote competitiveness among the trades.
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