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Old 09-09-2017, 07:12 PM   #1
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Default Performing the work and managing others.

I was recently promoted to foreman, and I have 9 guys under me. It's been a week now and I feel like I'm running into the issue of being divided between the tasks the superintendent/GF wants me to do, and actually directing the guys.

In fact, for the most part, the GF still directs who does what/when.

I know I've hit a wall where I'm not excelling at my tasks at hand, or keeping my guys running as efficiently as possible.

Right now I feel more like just a journeyman with 9 guys I loosely assist from time to time, than a foreman who can look several steps ahead, plan, and execute.

Now that I think about it, the other foreman seemed to fall into the same category as "working foreman". He really didn't know or follow what was going on in my section of the building and had his own little projects he was tasked to work on and would often direct me to ask the GF.

This is my first time being foreman, but I feel like I've been on smoother running jobs than this, and the only working foremen I really saw were service truck drivers, or on really small jobs.
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Old 09-09-2017, 07:16 PM   #2
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In my local the GF can't direct the men at all. And a foreman with 9 guys shouldn't be wearing tools.
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Old 09-09-2017, 07:19 PM   #3
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If the GF is directing the men, he's the forman, not you.
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Old 09-09-2017, 07:36 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TGGT View Post
I was recently promoted to foreman, and I have 9 guys under me. It's been a week now and I feel like I'm running into the issue of being divided between the tasks the superintendent/GF wants me to do, and actually directing the guys.

In fact, for the most part, the GF still directs who does what/when.

I know I've hit a wall where I'm not excelling at my tasks at hand, or keeping my guys running as efficiently as possible.

Right now I feel more like just a journeyman with 9 guys I loosely assist from time to time, than a foreman who can look several steps ahead, plan, and execute.

Now that I think about it, the other foreman seemed to fall into the same category as "working foreman". He really didn't know or follow what was going on in my section of the building and had his own little projects he was tasked to work on and would often direct me to ask the GF.

This is my first time being foreman, but I feel like I've been on smoother running jobs than this, and the only working foremen I really saw were service truck drivers, or on really small jobs.


A good rule of thumb: for every one guy under you it's 20-30 minutes per day youll not be installing but supervising. So with 9 guys 4-4.5 hours per day should be dedicated to supervising. The other 4 hours spend time doing foreman level tasks I.e. Panel trim out, transformer terminations etc.

Once your foreman for a while with the same crew you should be able to trim the 20
Mins per day per guy down to about 10. I supervised 12 guys and managed to get about 5-6 hours of labor done per day after the crew was whipped into shape.


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Old 09-09-2017, 07:41 PM   #5
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In my local the GF can't direct the men at all. And a foreman with 9 guys shouldn't be wearing tools.
That's what I was thinking.

Put aside whatever the bylaws say, I don't think it is very effective to do all the layout and have all the answers/materials and still put the tools on. Something is going to suffer.

Sometimes being a sub foreman is harder than a foreman or general foreman. When you start a job as a foreman, you start to think about everything right from the start. Now as a sub Foreman your always caught in between.

What is the scope of work for your crew? Hopefully it is specific tasks and not a little of everything. It's easier figuring material and laying out when the tasks are not to diverse.

Material is easier to manage if you create a stock list of items that your crew uses. Later adjust quantities and add/subtract things to your list. To free up your time for other things, have an apprentice check your stock with your list and reorder once a week. Add material for task specific items. Always have a two week look ahead. Think today where you are going to be two weeks from now and get answers and materials. Rinse and repeate weekly.
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Old 09-09-2017, 07:52 PM   #6
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As a foreman I never took on my own tasks. I would work when I had time, but always helping guys with their tasks. This way I could always drop it and leave when necessary. I would also be a go-for, bringing the guys tools and material when I came to see them, this way they could stay working.
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Old 09-09-2017, 08:02 PM   #7
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In a different part of my life, I often explain to people that you can't be a worker and a supervisor at the same time; meaning that if you are working with your head down, you can't have your head up and be looking ahead for different situations and making decisions to keep thing moving smoothly.

There is an old saying...

Cheers

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Old 09-09-2017, 08:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
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As a foreman I never took on my own tasks. I would work when I had time, but always helping guys with their tasks. This way I could always drop it and leave when necessary. I would also be a go-for, bringing the guys tools and material when I came to see them, this way they could stay working.
True,
Once you get about 5 journeymen, you have to drop the tools and do all of the Pimping.
Just how I was brought up. If I can get them all setup and supplied I'll sweep up, haul materials and anything I can do to keep them on task.
If it's a good day, I'll start a task I can pass on to a crew.
Seems to be somewhat universal.
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Old 09-09-2017, 08:06 PM   #9
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That's what I was thinking.

Put aside whatever the bylaws say, I don't think it is very effective to do all the layout and have all the answers/materials and still put the tools on. Something is going to suffer.

Sometimes being a sub foreman is harder than a foreman or general foreman. When you start a job as a foreman, you start to think about everything right from the start. Now as a sub Foreman your always caught in between.

What is the scope of work for your crew? Hopefully it is specific tasks and not a little of everything. It's easier figuring material and laying out when the tasks are not to diverse.

Material is easier to manage if you create a stock list of items that your crew uses. Later adjust quantities and add/subtract things to your list. To free up your time for other things, have an apprentice check your stock with your list and reorder once a week. Add material for task specific items. Always have a two week look ahead. Think today where you are going to be two weeks from now and get answers and materials. Rinse and repeate weekly.
It's sad because I've thought everything you've said, but trying to right this ship feels like an endeavor right now. Might be too close to the end of the job to really smooth things out, but any improvements right now will go a long way.

Keeping certain guys on the same tasks is something I'm implementing this week, everybody has been scattered across the building jumping between conduit, wire pulls, lights, and terminating. There has been no 1 guy or crew doing these things. So material tracking has been a nightmare to say the least.I could put a guy or two fixing loose ends and they'd probably be busy for weeks.
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Old 09-09-2017, 08:09 PM   #10
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I walked around with a clipboard and a concerned look for over a year as a foreskin, it's a cultivated sort of thing, the sh*t you can get away with is phenomenal......~CS~
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Old 09-09-2017, 08:20 PM   #11
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Some people can do it
Some people cannot
Or you can try harder
Your decision ?
Management whole new world.
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Old 09-09-2017, 08:26 PM   #12
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I walked around with a clipboard and a concerned look for over a year as a foreskin, it's a cultivated sort of thing, the sh*t you can get away with is phenomenal......~CS~
Today it's all done with an iPad. If you think you can get away with anything, your days are numbered. Your only as good as your last day. Never become complacent, not even after 30 years.
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Old 09-09-2017, 10:12 PM   #13
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- Supervising isn't standing around watching the guys work.
- Feed the guys clear tasks. Let them know you have thier next project ready for
them when they are about 75% complete with what they are working on. This keeps them
them from stretching a task out to fill out the day.
- Feed them material and keep it organized. They shouldn't have to leave their work area to
search for material.
- Layout locations for switches, outlets, lights well ahead of the guys. Install boxes if you
have the time. This will make it easier on the guys and they should be able to put in more
pipe and wire, rather than trying to figure stuff out.
- Do quality control on the work they've done and put together a small punchlist for them to
fix before you call in your inspections.
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Old 09-10-2017, 01:54 AM   #14
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1) You end up with what you inspect not what you expect.

2) You have to be your own materials pimp. Rank apprentices have no idea of what they're touching, yet time and time again, I see such lost souls tasked with materials handling.

( One kid spent 40 minutes hunting for a 1/2" EMT connector. He was tripping over them. He was too nervous and ashamed to admit he had no clue as to what that was. This is TYPICAL. )

2a) By pimping your own minor materials, you'll come to understand what's low, what's critically low, and what needs to be shoved to the rear - it's clutter at this stage of progress.

2b) Use Perry//Baker scaffolds as materials platforms, if nothing else. As a job closes down, you can't believe the labor burn in just shifting minor materials out of finished spaces. This especially includes lighting fixtures. If they are on scaffolds, you'll find that the GC will push your materials out of his way -- and thank you for your foresight. Major brownie points can be won this way.

2c) For big jobs with lots of rank apprentices -- build a storey board with each fitting type zip-tied to a backer. ( melamine with some holes punched through that rides on a scaffold. )

3) Unless it's pretty trivial, you're the dude in charge of all minor layout within your scope. This means box heights, etc. and rack elevations. In a complex job, you'll have to dope out the rack order, too.

4) Try everything to keep the boys on one type of task: wire pulling... running 3/4" EMT -- and ONLY 3/4" EMT, etc. The longer you can keep this up, the slicker the operation will be.

4a) Even changing EMT sizes means swapping benders, all minor materials ( straps, etc. ) and the boys will slightly lose their 'touch.' ( 1/2" is spaghetti -- 1" is a push )

5) You absolutely have to keep an eye on the GC and other trades -- lest they bury you. More budding foremen go off the rails on this than any other factor. For previously, they never had to worry about synching to the other trades. It will become an obsession for you.

5a) Rockers and the flat work crew are always a hazard. No GC will hold them back. You must always get your stuff below and behind their craft work before it's a nightmare. Many's the time that sleeves are your buddy. If you can't get your completed raceway in -- at least drop sleeves !

6) Late in a contract, shun cross-training the troops. It's too late, it's too time consuming, it'll cause you to foul up synching with the other trades. Let your j-men perform all of the micro-training... stuff like making up pulling heads.

6a) This also means that you can't afford to over correct anyone. Only correct full sized boners. Budding foreman have to watch themselves for being overly perfectionist. Your sweet work may have cause your promotion -- but don't inflict it upon anyone else late in a job. This will do wonders for job site harmony.
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Old 09-10-2017, 02:03 AM   #15
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I can't work off an iPad ... which I regard as a sales tool.

I'm a clip board fella. Sheets of paper can take the abuse.

I run refreshed spreadsheets every evening detailing the status of each circuit:

Stubbed
Roughed
Pulled
Done
Hot

These sheets permit me to take notes all day long... ( on the reverse -- in the margins ) and to not skip anything.

My typing beats my handwriting.

Getting caught over looking something is how you blow up your reputation.
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Old 09-10-2017, 06:18 AM   #16
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lots of good advice above.

as others have said:

whether you are a straw boss, or actual foreman, the task is:

1) making sure there is (correct and sufficient) material for all the tasks 2 weeks out (my rule of thumb, yours may vary)
2) making sure you have the right amount of labor for same (accelerating the work, or slowing it down is a command decision probably above your say, but you have to have your thumb on the pulse)
3) making sure you have the right men for the right jobs, and assigning teams to suit. do not allow your men to dictate who they work with, or who they won't, or you will just be baby sitting all day and not getting work done. However, well fitted teams will produce 2 or 3 times poor teams.
4) layout work to stay ahead of all the tasks by at least 2 tasks if possible. this gives you a swap task in case one of the active tasks goes in the tank (for any reason)
5) schedule your time to walk all areas as much as possible, but vary it daily so that you can catch loafers and slackers and put them in a highly visible task,screw them over with the worst task possible, embarras them, or fire them outright, as necessary. (this takes practice)
6) you have now completed all your tasks but 1. the easy, gravy, floating task you have left for yourself for your spare time. this could be working on your laptop, meeting with the super, doing planning, doing a non time critical but showy task with your tools, training and working with guys on one of the more difficult tasks where you can just help out but leave if you need to, etc.
7) then do it all again.

one thing I learned that was very handy: even if you have a trailer or someplace to sit down and do paperwork, it is best to set up a place on the job where you can view as many men as possible to look at plans and do some of your paperwork.

keeping all the men actively completing tasks (in the order needed) is the job, and the items outlined above are just my take on how to do it. others have stated many of the things I missed. getting the right guys under you isn't absolutely necessary, but it sure helps to have a good crew, and if you treat them ok they will treat you ok (maybe).

as always, just my 02
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Old 09-10-2017, 06:24 AM   #17
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Paper remains my main medium for common all day long organizational tasks, taking notes, making lists, sketching things, etc. I am not being a Luddite about it, just the opposite really, fully fluent with the phone, laptop, and Surface tablet and use them all day. I have gone back and forth about this endlessly with all-digital types, but there's really no contest when it comes to an actual comparison of speed and efficiency. Don't believe the all digital hype.
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Old 09-10-2017, 06:50 AM   #18
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Lot's of good advice. I can only add that a discussion with your boss as to expectations might be in order.

IMO, you do not have much time for tools, and ... I bet that if you pick them up you stand a much better chance of missing some planning and inspections that might be better use of your time.

Your job is to have things planned so that the hands on guys always have the time and materials to complete their tasks, and that they have a good understanding of their tasks.
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Old 09-10-2017, 07:06 AM   #19
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The only thing i might add to some of the lists above (which are very good) are the job meetings.....

There's a specific choreography that should occur for any job to run smoothly, most of which you guys know so it goes w/o saying.....

Self important stuffed shirts who haven't a clue as to how a job should be run will take all your patience ....

~CS~
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Old 09-10-2017, 07:11 AM   #20
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Quote:
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lots of good advice above.
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Lot's of good advice.
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The only thing i might add to some of the lists above (which are very good)
Agree, there is a lot of pure gold above!
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