Life is tough for a subcontractor.
As managers working for a Principal Contractor, we consume our time and energy on one project only, with one set of systems and one set of document templates. Subcontractors, however, must spread themselves across many different projects, each one very different from the others (and I’m not referring to the fun stuff).
Think of the hassle having to learn and adopt a different document control system for each new project they start. Imagine having to use a different template every time you write a new task sheet or method statement.
Of course, one could say, “why should I care?” or, “they made their bed, and now they must lay in it.” Which is true, but there’s always room to empathize or better yet, benefit – and I’ll show you why you should care in a moment.
There is an opportunity here for General Contractors to help themselves and their subcontractors. As Stephen R. Covey says, “think win/win.” What can you do to alleviate the subcontractors’ difficulty and nourish your relationships with them?
One easy way is to involve them when forming plans that impact their work. Briefing them isn’t sufficient. Bring them in early, when you are developing a strategy. They are the experts in their field, and you are the expert on the project. Only together can you produce the best plans.
To many, this will sound like more effort than it is worth. I completely understand and will not try to convince you otherwise. There are many ways to improve our professional day, and perhaps this is one you skip over. But if you choose to capitalize on this opportunity, the benefits are bountiful.
Including the subcontractor(s) in the development of your plans will nurture both your relationship and their commitment. They will buy into this plan and be motivated to deliver it. Why? Because it is now THEIR plan too. Their pride is seeded as well as yours. Remember this statement, no involvement, no commitment.
When you find yourself asking, “why don’t my subcontractors care more?” I would bet good money on one fundamental reason – YOU don’t care, not about them anyway, not enough.
Build your relationship. Care about your subcontractors, and they’ll care about you. Then, life on site will be far simpler and more effective for both of you.
Remember, no involvement, no commitment.