Champion for the Field Superintendent

Printer-friendly version

Field superintendents are our industry’s first and last defenders of quality homes. Their challenge is to build quality homes, sometimes despite a building production system that does not always work right.

February 28, 2001

 

Edward Caldeira, Director of Quality Services, NAHB Research Center

 

Field superintendents are our industry’s first and last defenders of quality homes. Their challenge is to build quality homes, sometimes despite a building production system that does not always work right. Most of the time they can make up for the shortcomings of the production system, but not always. So, when problems occur, fix the production system, not the field superintendent. After all, they did not create the system.

Someone else designs the homes, selects the materials, sets quality standards, contracts with the trades, schedules production, hires co-workers, provides training and determines superintendent workloads. These decisions are made long before any problems appear on the job site. When problems do occur, it is the field superintendents who are left with the task of solving problems they didn’t create.

Field superintendents routinely insulate decision makers from the realities of production systems’ shortcomings by quietly solving problems and moving on. Usually, management learns about these situations only when several problems converge at one time. When this happens, superintendents do not need to be told how to do their job or be motivated. What they need is an improved home building production system that creates fewer problems in the first place.

Improving the production system is management’s job, and they should lead the effort. Management should act on behalf of superintendents to facilitate change. Get started by following four simple steps:

 

  •  Engage superintendents in setting improvement priorities. What is good for the superintendent is good for the company. They are motivated to solve the problems that cost the company the most money.
  •  

  •  Involve superintendents in analyzing root causes of problems. More than management ever can, superintendents understand what is really happening. Their insight is invaluable for finding solutions that can work. They can also temper priorities knowing how difficult it may be to implement solutions.
  •  

  •  Facilitate changes outside the superintendent’s sphere of influence. Superintendents can only do so much -- they may not be able to do it alone when solutions involve changes in other parts of the organization or with trade contractors. Get the right people involved in the problem-solving process.
  •  

  •  Get opinions from superintendents on how well the improvements are working. Many times improvement changes need refinement to get the right results. Regular updates on the effectiveness of new systems are needed.

    When managers are part of the solution instead of part of the problem, they are champions for field superintendents. When managers are champions, everyone wins.

    For more information on quality topics, visit www.nahbrc.org/quality. Questions? Call the Research Center’s ToolBase Hotline 800/898-2842.

  • Comments on: "Champion for the Field Superintendent"

    August 2017

    This Month in Professional Builder

    Products
    Features

    The home is named for the way light bounces off floors and...

    Overlay Init