Key Qualities of Successful Construction Superintendents
Superintendents play a vital role in any construction project. But it's not simply enough to have one on board to ensure a good outcome for your project. You need one who is successful in their endeavors. Successful means a superintendent who works effectively with every aspect of a project to get it done on time, on budget, and safely. Such successes result in profit and future work for firms. Obviously, a successful superintendent is one you want to have on a jobsite all the time. So what attributes should firms be looking for in hiring such superintendents? And even more importantly, what can they contribute to ensuring that these successes continue? Also see our 5 Traits That Make an Effective Construction Superintendent.
Leadership Skills for Construction Superintendents
Whether it's trying to get forms filled out or trying to find out who's going to make a street repair, pretty much everyone has dealt with a situation in which no one appears to be in charge. When this happens, no one thinks that they're seeing an example of democracy at its best. Such a scenario is unprofessional and frustrating. And at a construction site, it can create a chaotic and potentially dangerous job site. But on the other hand, no one wants to report to work every day to a dictator. That's why site superintendents who run successful sites have:
Good Communication SkillsConstruction superintendent duties should also include good communication skills. This applies both verbally and in writing. And given construction's evolving workforce, the ability to do so in more than one language doesn't hurt either.
Ability To Be FlexibleThe subcontractor is behind schedule. A comet smashed into the widget factory. Your vitally needed widget delivery is going to be a bit late. And next week's weather isn't looking promising. While no one wants to go through life assuming the worst, successful superintendents are skilled at drawing up (and modifying!) contingency plans for life's little surprises.
Talked The Talk Because They've Walked The WalkMany superintendents come to these positions after having worked on the "front lines" of construction. Practical construction experience can be invaluable for someone in a supervisory position. It enables that individual to have a more realistic idea of the demands, timetables, and limitations of certain tasks. It can also make for a bonding experience with work crews if the boss was once one of them, making it easier to take instructions (okay, sometimes they're demands) from them. On the other hand, this same attribute can sometimes backfire with particular crews, so it helps if qualities include:
People Person SkillsThis is a tricky skill. It's even trickier if it has to be learned and isn't natural. And it's often mistaken by supervisors as needing to be outgoing or everybody's buddy. But is anything more repugnant than someone who's falsely friendly? Instead, sought after "people" skills in someone in a supervisory position should include:
- the ability to be firm but fair
Ideally, firm management should also be so comfortable with a superintendent's people skills that they allow that individual to make award nominations and appoint de facto supervisors among work site staff.
Technology Skills for Construction Superintendents
Even the construction industry can't escape technology these days. To help keep projects on track, site superintendents should ideally be familiar with the firm's software, and how to utilize it. They should also be willing to research, adopt, and even adapt new technologies for project benefit. For example, no general contractor loves doing daily reporting, but it's essential. But by using construction technology like Raken for the writing of daily reports, savvy superintendents can:
- save up to 60-90 minutes a day in report filing
- provide up-to-date site information
- collaborate with subcontractors
- get project information more quickly
Firm managers can also make it easier to find and recruit the best field superintendents by being willing to purchase new technologies, permitting training time, and providing opportunities for professional advancement within firms.