What Should a New Construction Manager Do in Their First 60 Days?

Being a construction manager is a complicated job, and it helps to get started off on the right foot. Learn how here.

construction manager looking at plans on jobsiteShutterstock/ Kanghophoto

Beginning a new job can be both exciting and challenging. You know you have the experience and knowledge to handle the workload. But what is the best path forward to make sure that all-important ‘first impression’ is the right ‘first impression’? Getting off on the right foot makes everything run much more smoothly, so here are some tips to help you navigate those crucial first steps.

1. Establish Communications

Understand the business’s goals and objectives. Establish with your supervisor how your success will be measured and understand the procedures and methods for communications. Excellent and complete two-way feedback is essential both in the first 60 days and on-going. It goes without saying that your plans and activities should align with the departmental and company goals.

2. Meet Employees

Meet with employees and, particularly, direct reports. Also, begin to build good relations with your subcontractors. This will pay off as projects progress. During the initial meetings, introduce yourself and give some general background. Some employees may wonder what broad changes you might institute. Delay getting into specifics unless you have detailed directions to carry out certain tasks. Be visible during this time and introduce yourself to as many people as possible.

3. Communicate with the Project Owner

Meet with project owner/company’s client. Understand project expectations and establish communication links within your company’s procedures. As you assume your role, there may be construction projects in progress. Get an introduction to the project owner and discuss his expectations for the construction efforts. Based on your company’s procedures, you may be responsible for communicating directly with the company’s customer or customer representative.

4. Learn Internal Systems

Learn about internal project management and other systems and procedures. Understand the company’s budgeting, project scheduling, and management reporting systems. Introduce yourself to those responsible for system maintenance. Learn any system used by the company that you are not familiar with, such as Primavera, Procore, or others.

5. Identify Quick Wins

Identify areas that represent ‘quick wins.’ Review general policies and procedures you will be using and identify areas that can be improved quickly and easily. At this early stage, the magnitude of the change is not as significant as the fact that you are making something happen. Get input from your direct reports. They may have suggestions for changes that have been ignored in the past.

6. Understand Project Work Tasks

Review and understand the projects for which you are accountable. If one of your responsibilities is to plan the current project, then develop the best program possible. Include goals, time schedules, available equipment and resources, budgets, trades needed, materials, and project background. Ensure work steps comply with all building permit requirements, safety regulations, and OSHA requirements. Be certain safety procedures are in place. Be sure to maintain constant communications with your supervisor.

7. Implement Improvement Programs Including Preventative Maintenance

One essential step that is often overlooked is to begin programs for improvement early in your tenure. Review policies, procedures, maintenance service records, and first-hand inspections. Discuss problems with and obtain feedback from employees. Establish maintenance goals such as equipment up-time and, if not already in place, implement a preventative maintenance program. Your plan design should include both planned maintenance as well as condition-based monitoring.

8. Build Rapport with Support Staff

Meet with supporting functions within the business such as accounting, purchasing, personnel, and payroll. Individuals in other departments can facilitate your efforts with valuable assistance by answering questions, helping straighten out issues, and opening doors. Visit these departments, introduce yourself, and build rapport. Try to remember as many names as possible. Show an interest in their problems and establish a channel of two-way communication. This effort will pay off in the long term.

9. Plan for Contingencies

You should be prepared to deal with weather delays, emergencies, or ‘behind the wall’ problems that arise from ‘hidden’ issues. Discuss with your employees, contingency plans and actions that may be required should emergencies occur. Ensure emergency procedures are in place to deal with accidents and that all safety regulations are being followed. Be certain procedures are in place to manage delays such as inclement weather or unseen ‘behind the wall’ problems not apparent during planning.

And, remember, at all times, project a positive ‘can do’ attitude and maintain a sense of urgency. Don’t run rough-shod over your associates and direct reports: this is a great way to alienate others, making it hard to work together in the long run.

Final Thoughts

Your new employer made a choice in selecting you to fill an important role. They are putting a great deal of faith in your abilities to accomplish some specific responsibilities and are likely giving you the time and freedom to show results. It’s important during your initial 60 days to demonstrate some immediate results, as you build a foundation for long-term success.

Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO at Limble CMMS. Limble is a modern, easy to use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate, and streamline their maintenance operations.