Corey, a plumber for a company providing full-service design and construction services based in Salem, OR told Session 2 of the Leadership Development Lab (LDL):

“Several years ago, I was working on my first big commercial plumbing job in a 200,000 square foot testing lab. Part of my task was to ‘tape the pipe’ anywhere the plastic pipe was touching metal. This is to prevent the metal from stretching the pipe which could result in a damaging leak. I spent a few hours wrapping every section of pipe that I would have to put hangers on. After I had completed the taping, I installed all the strapping and supports required. The next morning, we met the City Inspector on site for our walk-through inspection.

“While walking the project, the inspector told me you can’t let the sticky side of the protective tape touch the plastic pipe because the sticky glue can have a corrosive, damaging effect on the pipe. The special attention to ‘reverse-side out’ taping wasn’t explained or checked by my journeyman. The inspector was telling me that I was supposed to wrap the pipe sticky side out! How was I supposed to know that? When I was told to tape the pipe, I assumed that I should do just that.

So, I had to spend the next six hours unstrapping each section and re-taping all the pipe the correct way.

“The lesson I learned from this experience is that not asking for clarification can cause delays, loss of productivity and failed inspections.

“The action I call you to take is to ask for clarification when you’re unsure and check-in or follow up when you assign a task to make sure it’s being done correctly.

“The benefit you will gain is less re-work will be needed and inspectors won’t need to correct you. You will stay ahead of schedule and beat the bid.”

I appreciate Corey taking responsibility, “not asking questions,” for the mis-understanding and failed communication which resulted in his embarrassing, dis-empowerment, and six hours of wasted time. From my perspective, the journeyman who assigned the task is the responsible party. He is the one who failed to explain and show Corey how to execute this counter intuitive task successfully. Any time you are assigning new tasks be sure to provide the necessary explanation and training needed for the job to be completed successfully. Especially when it is counter intuitive. I have heard many “egg on the face” stories from class members who struggled with removing nuts with left hand thread – why didn’t someone tell them?

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