Two Simple Ways to Reduce Crew Mistakes

3 Rawso crew members

Recently, we talked about what causes crew mistakes and offered some tips to prevent them. You may have noticed a theme: prevention revolves around training your crew members. 

It really is that simple. 

People in the Dirt World want to do a good job. So if they’re not, it’s almost always safe to assume they don’t know how to do the task. That’s where you come in. 

Your training goal is to address the crew’s needs and arm them with all the info they require to do the job right. That may sound a little daunting, but it requires two types of training. 

1. Task-specific training

Task-specific training is educating your team on how to do the job itself. This type of training covers everything that your crew needs to know for their specific role, so it will vary from one crew member to another. 

Laborers need to know things like:

  • Which types of shovels to use and when
  • How to take care of hand tools and power equipment
  • How to stay safe when they’re working on the ground near heavy machinery

Operators need to know different things, like how to: 

  • Do a machine walkaround
  • Prevent unnecessary wear-and-tear 
  • Make sure they’re moving the right amount of dirt in the right places

Pipelayers will need training on another skillset, like how to:

  • Prepare the pipe bed
  • Fit the pipes together
  • Vent the pipes 

Grade checkers need to know how to:

  • Set stakes
  • Calculate grades using lasers or math
  • Keep the operator on-course

For field supervisors, task-specific training should cover things like:

  • Read project plans
  • Delegate tasks to the crew
  • Interact appropriately with trade partners and subcontractors

And on it goes. Each person needs to know all the technical components of how to do their job correctly and safely. 

Speaking of safety, your whole team needs safety training! Far too many jobsites have serious safety issues, which are almost always due to inadequate training

It’s important to find a training program that covers specific roles and responsibilities, as well as overall safety, so you can make sure everybody on your team gets the knowledge they need. 

2. Leadership training

Leadership training encompasses soft skills—things like communication, conflict resolution, humility, work ethic, responsibility, and so on. 

You need clear, consistent leadership training across your company, so you know all your leaders meet the same high standards. It’s also important to know the three types of leaders you have on your team. 

Natural leaders

Have you ever met someone who was born a leader? They’re smart, they’re engaging, they’re charismatic. There’s just something about them that makes people want to do what they say.

If you’ve got someone like that on your team, that’s awesome to have that kind of raw leadership talent. But just because someone has a natural gift doesn’t mean they’ve reached their peak potential. You still have to teach them how to channel and develop their leadership skills.

It’s also easy for natural leaders to get overconfident or take a my-way-or-the-highway approach. That’s not the kind of leadership your crew needs, so you must teach natural leaders to slow down, listen, and seek wise counsel from the people around them. 

Learned leaders 

Some people who become leaders are not naturally talented at it. That’s not to say they’re bad—they can be amazing at what they do—but leadership is a skill they have to learn and work hard at. 

This may happen because someone is inexperienced, reserved, afraid of conflict, or unsure of themselves. Or maybe they simply got promoted from another role and need a plan to transition into leadership. That’s all okay. 

Learned leaders are incredible to have on your team. They are overcomers who can take on just about any challenge. They tend to have a good work ethic and be aware of how their authority affects others. 

They can also make fantastic mentors for your other workers, especially if they’ve worked in other roles on a construction crew before. (Education on how to be a good mentor is another part of leadership training, by the way.)

Learned leaders may take time to get comfortable in their role. At first, they may be hesitant to make big decisions, or they might overcompensate for what they perceive as their own shortcomings by being too strict. You’ll have to teach them to be confident in themselves, handle conflict graciously, and so on. 

Crew members

Every crew member is a potential leader. These men and women are likely to become your next foremen and field supervisors, and you want to make sure they’re prepared to step into those roles when the time comes. 

Whether they end up in “official” leadership roles or not, training each crew member as a leader elevates your entire company. When clients see your crew communicating well, taking responsibility for the work, and looking for potential mistakes, that’s impressive. That makes clients want to work with you again or recommend you to others. 

On top of that, crew members make the best mentors. You’ve got people in the field with 25 years of experience working alongside people who have been on the job for two months. With the right leadership training, experienced employees can come alongside the newbies and mentor them in the career path and company culture.

That’s super important when you’re recruiting new employees. Training and development opportunities are one of the top three things construction workers want in a job.1 So let recruits know they can learn from great people at your company—and that they’ll get leadership training to help develop their careers.

Training goals

When you’re choosing task-specific training or leadership training programs, you want to think about three things.

  • Can the crew use this training anywhere? People learn best when they get a well-rounded experience, so you want training that works in a classroom or a morning crew huddle.
  • Will this work for all experience levels? You want to help experienced team members keep developing and growing in their roles. At the same time, you need training that’s easily digestible for rookies. 
  • Is this training getting results? Your ultimate training goal is to keep your employees safe and productive. So you should quickly see very real, measurable progress after starting a new training initiative. 

Now that we've talked about how training reduces crew mistakes learn how BuildWitt Training can specifically help your crew avoid rework and become safer, more productive employees.