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Green Building Curmudgeon

Laying down the law

You have to be the policeman on your jobs as well as the mother, father, teacher, and therapist in order to get things done the way you want.

Enforcing New Requirements on Your Green Job Site

OK, so you have encouraged, set expectations, inspected, maybe even pleaded and begged, but you still aren’t getting what you want. So what is there to do?

It’s time for some enforcement. When you have provided direction and given complete information to your team, as professionals they are responsible for delivering the performance for which you have contracted.

As part of your contract with trades, or your employment policies, you should create a method to enforce your standards. This may include holding payments for incomplete or incorrect work, reducing or eliminating bonuses to employees, or, in extreme cases, terminating contracts or firing staff. Let everyone know about these policies in advance, enforce them fairly and evenly, and you will eventually get the performance you need.

Making the transformation to green building will require everyone in your operation to change their behavior and work practices. When you start to make the transformation you will find varying levels of resistance within your existing team. Watch their behavior carefully. You will see a wide range of responses to the changes you are asking for.

Some team members will embrace change with enthusiasm—they are the cheerleaders who will help you see your way through. Others will show some resistance, but can be coaxed into making necessary adjustments to remain on the team and be successful.

Finally, some people will put up extreme resistance, arguing with you and expending much of their effort telling you why the changes are stupid and won’t work. This kind of behavior is unacceptable, and as the owner or manager, it is your job to keep them from ruining your company morale. If you can’t change their behavior quickly, you will probably need to let the naysayers go.

You will find that as you make necessary changes that allow your business to develop, certain excellent, long-term employees may not be capable of making the transition with you. During my 25 years in the construction business, we frequently outgrew some of our employees’ abilities, requiring them to move on. In some cases it was voluntary—they would resign, often letting us know that, while they appreciated and understood what we were doing, they weren’t prepared to change the way they worked to fit our needs. Sometimes they needed to be fired.

Firing is rarely an enjoyable experience, but you need to always keep the long-term viability of your company in mind when making decisions about your team. This also applies to trade contractors—some old, reliable ones may need to go.

The beauty of making improvements in your company is that once they are made, every new team member knows them as the standard—no arguments, no complaining—they come on board ready to roll with you.

There is often a lot of emotion on a job site, and long—term personal relationships with your team can be strained by business disagreements, but it is important to keep in mind that it is just business. I am always reminded of a great line from the movie “The Fugitive,” when Harrison Ford pleads with Tommy Lee Jones, the marshal pursuing Ford. Ford says that he is innocent, to which Jones replies, “I don’t care.” To him it is just business, and his job is catching the fugitive.

Without being callous, you need to take this position—it is just business, and everyone needs to do their job, and if they don’t they will suffer the consequences. As noted in the beginning of this series, green-project management is not rocket science, but it does take some extra attention to get it right. Armed with the right information, careful planning, and effective policies and procedures, your green project can run smoothly, taking your company to the next level so that it can stay ahead of the curve in this rapidly growing sector of the industry.

One Comment

  1. BettyGA | | #1

    My son is going to enter the Faculty of Law. I constantly tell him that study should be considered a full-fledged occupation. Even if you are not sure about the direction of your future career. It should always be remembered that a person with a law degree is not obliged to become one.

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