Construction: Team Management

Holding your first team meeting
Managing large tasks
Leadership tips

Holding your first team meeting

Pittsburgh Design Day 014.jpg Once you have a few loyal volunteers recruited, it's time to get down to work. A first meeting sets the tone for your entire project, so try to be professional, organized and energetic. But don't forget about the fun! Remind your team of the joys of play and they'll carry that energy back to the community. It's always important to establish a clear objective and an agenda for each meeting. Show up on time, be prepared and set time limits for each item; everyone appreciates a productive meeting, and your team members will be more likely to show up next time! Here are some topics that you might want to address at your first construction team meeting:

  1. Personal introductions.
  2. Review the playspace project.
  3. Discuss your overall solicitation goals and strategies.
  4. Brainstorm community resources and personal connections.
  5. Delegate team tasks: solicitation, site prep planning, managing volunteers on Build Day(s).
  6. Assign responsibility for utility check and soil testing.
  7. Set specific goals for your next meeting.

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Managing large tasks

These five checklists are designed to break your planning tasks into manageable chunks. Look these over now to see what lies ahead, and use them as a guide to create more specific checklists for the members of your team. Download a printable version of this checklist.

Checklist #1: Planning

  • Formed construction team; held first team meeting.
  • Drafted a planning timeline (tool collection, site prep, etc.)
  • Drafted a construction budget estimate (including design fees, labor and machinery for site prep, materials, shipping, storage, tools and installer fees.)
  • Mapped tool/material assets in the community (individuals, groups, businesses).
  • Made initial list of construction tools and machinery needed.

Checklist #2: Initial actions

  • Performed initial utility check; dug test holes.
  • Contacted laboratory for soil test; collected soil samples.
  • Approached potential in-kind tool & material donors.
  • Began soliciting tools and materials from the community.

Checklist #3: Solicitations and schedules

  • Tools and materials solicitation process underway.
  • Brainstormed a list of potential build captains.
  • Requested utility check.
  • Confirmed source of site prep machinery.
  • Scheduled major site prep tasks: removal of old/unsafe equipment, site grading and/or excavation. (if applicable)
  • Recruited six to ten site prep volunteers.

Checklist #4: Logistics and back-up plans

  • Tool solicitation completed; purchase of remaining tools underway.
  • Established list of emergency sources for tools.
  • Established system for tool distribution and collection during Build Day(s).
  • Completed major site prep (e.g. grading/excavation, removal of old/unsafe play equipment).
  • Obtained final clearance to dig from utility company.
  • Recruited build captains.
  • Confirmed installer for site prep and Build Day(s).
  • Discussed a plan for training maintenance staff immediately after the build. (Coordinate with co-chairs and safety captain.)

Checklist #5: Final steps

  • Purchased remaining tools/materials.
  • Created post-build "punch list."
  • Completed confirmation calls to tool donors.
  • Scheduled build captain training session.
  • Reviewed installer agreement (with co-chair)
  • Utility check: Have test holes been dug at the site? Does your team foresee any problems with underground utilities?
  • Soil testing: Have soil test results come back from the lab? What were the results?
  • Tool & material solicitation: Has your team had any success getting tools and materials donated? What do you still need? How is your approach working? Have you brainstormed new potential donors?
  • Site prep planning: Has your team secured the necessary machinery for major site prep? Do you have an operator? Has the work been scheduled? When is it?
  • Don't have enough tools for the build? Have the recruitment captain request that all volunteers bring their own tools to the build. Make sure to label them! Get in touch with city agencies or park districts to lend out tools for the build.

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Leadership tips

a05build.jpg

As a project leader, you simply can't do everything alone. That's why you have team members! A large part of your job will be to motivate, instruct, advise and help others as they implement your plan. Remember that delegating responsibility usually enhances a project, because jobs get done by people who have a special skill in that area. It also helps everyone practice their management skills and get more out of the project. This, in turn, will improve accountability and make for a truly "community-built" playspace. But that's not all! Being a leader also means keeping meetings on track and managing time wisely. Hone your team captain skills with these simple tips:

  • Delegate complete jobs rather than portioning out small tasks.
    Team members aren't there to do your "busy work"! If you put your trust in them, they'll rise to the occasion and give you a more creative, thoughtful response.

  • Clarify the job before delegating.
    Make very clear your expectations, the job's priority, the deadline, who can help them, and how this task fits into the big picture.

  • Give help when requested.
    And not before then! It's important to step back, resist the urge to micromanage, and let your team members do their work. (But be there in a pinch.)

  • Listen.
    Repeat what you've heard to make sure you understood. Pay attention to nonverbal behavior (gestures, posture, tone of voice). Put yourself in their shoes.

  • Take notes.
    At every meeting, it's important to record what was accomplished, what new goals or deadlines were set, and who said what.

  • Agree upon meeting procedures.
    Who will speak and in what order? What topics will be discussed? Having fair and consistent procedures will keep people focused during lengthy meetings.

  • Set time limits.
    Meetings tend to go on until someone stops them. Let people know how much time they have to speak, and stick to it.

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