Thinking About My Day

Paper is my best-friend at work

Today was a typical and stressful day.

I know I rarely blog about the details of my job and I’m not exactly sure why.

It’s not a government job where my blogging would put national security at risk. It’s not a cutting edge technological job where trade secrets could be spilled. It’s not an investment job where insider information might be a problem.

It’s a construction job.

A job where dirt, machines, and men struggle and sweat every day. It’s a job where I pore over papers while my crews and subs somehow assemble huge pipes and concrete into facilities that pump and clean your faucet water.

I enjoy the pressures of my job.

What I am realizing more and more, is that a major factor of project management is dealing with people. The productivity and profitability of my projects no longer just depends on my construction acumen but also my people skills or lack thereof. The people I deal with are often wealthy and prominent people whose years in the construction industry exceed my age. And yet, it is my job to professionally resolve their issues with a solution that is fair and yet profitable to my company.

After spending the past 5 years in construction, I have learned the important lesson of leaving my stress at the office each day.

But tonight is weirdly different and that is why today is on my blog.

Unfortunately my brain won’t stop thinking about the issues I dealt with today. My day started began with 3 issues and I still need to find a  resolution for 2 problems.

After my morning routine of reading a couple news articles while eating my breakfast of Oreos and coffee, I opened my email. That is when my morning became interesting. Waiting for me (as my good morning welcome) were unexpected requests from three of my subcontractors requesting thousands of dollars in additional money beyond their contracts’ value.

When I finished reading the emailed requests and double-checking the figures, my first step was to call my superintendent and learn his perspective on the issues. Then I went through all the fine-print terms and conditions on each of the contracts hoping to find a clear-cut answer, but all those tiny words didn’t offer any solutions.

The next step was calling up my subcontractors. The vice-president of one company admitted that his company had made the mistake but rationalized his request by stating that the amount was mere pocket change to me. As the big guy, I should absorb the costs of his mistake, and look out for him. Right. The next company officer told me to just move past my objections to his extra costs and pay him. In my head I had to remind myself that these men weren’t being sarcastic.

The first good news for me today came right after lunch. The project manager for the third company called me back, and together we negotiated his request for thousands of dollars into several hundred dollars. I signed off on his revised amount, sent the approved invoice to the billing department, and then cautiously breathed a sigh of relief.

Tomorrow I have to resolve the last two problems. I’m not afraid to give people answers they don’t like, but I try to also look at how my solution for today’s problem is going to affect the rest of the project or the relationship between our companies. Unfortunately, it seems that one issue will not easily be resolved, and right now my hope is that a frank conversation with the company president will at least find us some common ground.

A close friend of mine told me that I should talk to someone if I’ve had a stressful day, and I teasingly reminded her that since I live alone there was no one to tell. Unfortunately for anyone who reads my blog, I do have the house to myself and that means today’s “stress expression” ends up on my blog.

Oddly enough, I’m excited to wake up tomorrow and try to figure out an answer to these last issues. The funny thing about construction is that as soon as one fire is put out, there are ten new fires that start.

Construction is action-packed. It’s one reason why I love construction and why my job makes me happy.

Plus, I am never bored.

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