Turbo Leadership Systems

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Issue 106 To our clients and friends December 19, 2006
Home for the Holidays
Larry W. Dennis, Sr.
Turbo Leadership


Dan, project superintendent for a large general contractor in eastern Washington, told Session 3B of the Leadership Development LAB:

“We had been installing new sewer lines through the town of Pomeroy, Washington during the fall and winter. My crew of two operators, two laborers and myself had decided to take two weeks off before Christmas and New Year if we could finish the original contract by this time. We were getting close to the end and Christmas was just two weeks away. Unfortunately luck had not been on our side throughout this project. The town had never kept track of buried utilities lines and exact locations on as-built drawings. It seemed like we usually found live lines right before quitting time or just before a weekend. This caused a lot of overtime in emergency situations to fix the broken utilities.

Well, with 50’ of main line and one manhole to go, we had two water lines and one phone line to excavate under and one day until the end-of-year break we all wanted. I approached my crew and gave them the opportunity to make the decision of ‘going for it’ on Friday or coming in one day the following week to finish. They quickly decided to go for it and even came in early the next morning to wrap it up. We made it under the water line and phone line and replaced the manhole. We then began to backfill, compact and prep the work area for a two week shutdown. Extra care was taken around the water line as it was

asbestos and very fragile. We finished by noon to make it all the better. Everything was ready to go. We flagged down one operator who had been cleaning elsewhere and he pulled up and parked his loader right on top of the water main. Yes, it broke. Fortunately I caught the head of the water department before he left town, borrowed a repair coupler and we had it fixed and were on the road home for a well-deserved break by 2:00.

The lesson I learned from this experience is that everyone needs to know the task at hand. If the operator had known about the water line, he wouldn’t have parked there. By giving my crew the chance to make their own decisions, it seemed to boost their eagerness and morale. Their empowerment lead to a high level of commitment to succeed.

The action I call you to take is empower your team to help make the decisions that affect their work on a daily basis and impact their personal lives. The benefit you will gain is more respect from your motivated, engaged employees, increased productivity, and the opportunity to watch them grow.”


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