Eric, Vice President for a large, civil construction company in Salem, OR, told Session 8B of Turbo’s Leadership Development Lab (LDL):
“Our concrete crew needed to construct some kind of railing or tie-off system for pouring a curb on top of a fourteen foot high wall. Instead of following my standard approach of trying to figure out the best way to solve this problem, I asked my crew for their ideas. Believe it or not, Wes, our newest employee, asked if there was a railing on top of the wall in the permanent finished design. I said, “No,” and he said, “You should ask ODOT if they will need one.” I thought, “Why not?” So I asked our ODOT design engineer, I was a little surprised when he said, “Yes,” that they did need a railing installed on the permanent structure. The next day, I went back to our concrete crew and told Wes in front of the entire crew how great of an idea he had. ODOT is now paying us to install the railing that includes our needed fall protection.
“The lesson I learned from this experience is the importance of asking for and listening to the ideas of our crews. They have a variety of experience in solving our constructability problems and when we ask, we can get some very helpful ideas.
“The action I call you to take is give up on the idea that you must have all the answers to all the problems you face on your projects. Ask for and listen to the ideas, especially the ‘off the wall’ ideas of your crews. And when their ideas work, be sure they get all the credit!
“The benefit you will gain is an engaged team who bring more than their hands to the job. Your crews and everyone on them will bring their hands, head and hearts. You will have a happily engaged team that beats the bid.”
What do you think of this simple story? How often do we miss the best ideas for cutting costs, improving quality, speeding processes and improving customer response just because we fail to ask and listen to the ideas of our team? Remember Wes was the newbie, he still hadn’t learned all the reasons things couldn’t be done. Often we and our team get hypnotized, we are sleep walking. New people have beginner eyes, they see in ways old timers have grown blind to. What is one of the challenges you and your team are faced with today? Get your crew, your team, one or one dozen, together, explain the problem, then ask your team for their ideas. Remember Eric’s advice – it can’t hurt to ask.
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