Welcome to Episode 6 Construction Nation!
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The following show notes are a transcription from the audio conversation between Sue Dyer and Tom Taylor. Enjoy!
Tom Taylor’s career journey
Tom didn’t initially expect to end up in the construction industry. While pursuing a Mechanical Engineering degree at Michigan State, he worked an internship at a large general contractor. At the end of the 10 weeks, he fell in love with the teamwork, sense of accomplishment, the variety of people, and has been hooked ever since.
Tom started early as a superintendent and moved into project management in the Detroit area. The work he and his team did at that time focused on building schools; a rewarding experience that gave a sense of community contribution. Tom moved to California in 2005 and took a step backward from his director/PM role in Michigan to learn what it means to build in California including seismic bracing, digging 70-foot holes, and more! Tom spent 6 years on the San Fransisco general hospital project and from there moved into overseeing the northern California operations at Webcor the last 2 years.
About Webcor Builders
Webcor Builders has been around over 50 years, founded in the San Fransisco Bay Area. They are a self-performing GC with 750 salaried employees and over 1,000 tradespeople. Webcor employs the largest group of carpenters in California. Webcor is a superregional company able to build most things. They are part of Obayashi Corporation, a large international firm stationed in Japan that provides financial backing among other things. Webcor’s biggest competitive advantage according to tom is their extraordinary people! They are proud of who they are, what they do, and focus on being a positive force in the community.
Webcor has been involved in community rebuilding for over 35 years. A few examples of job-site level projects that gave back to the community were serving at a local soup kitchen, sponsoring students, and providing employment opportunities to veterans.
Tom’s Favorite Part of the Job
Collaborating with people on challenges and opportunities to produce exceptional outcomes is Tom’s favorite part of his job. He loves the process of brainstorming, asking questions, and getting different perspectives in order to form solutions that no one individual would have come up with on their own.
Tom’s Leadership Strengths
Tom says his biggest strength as a leader is his ability to support people to draw out the best in them. Asking tough questions, encouraging and challenging people in a way they feel supported and comfortable so that trust can be established. The acronym S.A.M. stands for setting direction, aligning resources, and motivating/inspiring. Motivation is important along with feedback; showing the person they are appreciated and that they add value.
Monthly Construction Scorecard
5 projects Tom has worked with at SFO have used the Construction Scorecard aligned with the process of Structured Collaborative Partnering. The correlation between the scorecard’s ability to predict how a project is going to perform has been astonishing. The Construction Scorecard has worked effectively with 5 completely different projects with different stakeholders, variables, and teams.
How does the Construction Scorecard work?
It provides the opportunity on a monthly basis for a large portion of the team and stakeholders to score how the project is going and provide feedback on critical issues. It identifies key challenges and opportunities on a regular basis and is transparent. It holds people accountable and offers the space for safe and honest input. It is meritocratic and values the best ideas across the team and stakeholders.
Lessons learned using the scorecard
One project at SFO was not doing well in terms of the budget and schedule which was reflected on the scorecard. When Tom and his team embraced the feedback from the scorecard, they were able to collectively make changes that have up to this point produced positive results and gotten the project back on track.
How Accountability Positively Affects a Team
Accountability empowers employees. It emboldens them and gives them a sense that their voice is heard. Accountability embraces the key components of building trust such as talking directly, transparency, delivering on results, and keeping commitments. People’s energy shifts from challenging, questioning, and doubting others to support: how they can help the other person be successful. It has resulted in a profound shift where people place their time and effort.
What kind of Projects can benefit from the Construction Scorecard?
Any project can benefit! Some less complex projects may require less executive engagement, timing, and depth, but it is always helpful to start off with a rigorous and detailed process to make sure you’re assessing how the team is performing early-on. If a project starts off well with a plan and trust, it generally will go well throughout. You can scale back the Scorecard as the project proceeds, but it is a good investment of time throughout!
The worst challenge Tom has faced in his career.
Tom’s worst challenge occurred more than 20 years ago. They were building a new high school at an incredibly fast pace in Michigan with a 16-month timeframe for a 400,000 sq ft. school. Three weeks before the school was opened (the schedule could not be shifted), an elevator tech fell two stories from a ladder and was permanently disabled. Tom remembers being in the elevator with the EMT helping this gentleman out. It was a dark moment in Tom’s career that he has not forgotten. Tom relates this experience back to the usefulness of a scorecard and how had the team dynamics been a bit different, perhaps this event could have turned out more fortunately.
Best advice ever received
Tom’s best advice ever received comes from his dad which is that you must ALWAYS have a positive attitude. As a leader, you must be able to walk into every day no matter how bleak things are and see a positive path forward. You must set the vision, explain to people where you’re going, and create enthusiasm as to how you’re going to get there — all of which requires a positive attitude.
Resource for Listeners
Thank You For Being Late (affiliate link) by Thomas Freidman. This book is an optimist’s guide to dealing with the rapid pace of change and how the world is changing faster than our ability to completely adapt and understand the previous version. It shares insightful statistics and teaches how to see change as an opportunity rather than a threat.
Tom Taylor’s contact info
Tom welcomes you to connect!
Be outstanding. The next time someone in the office asks you how your day is going, say OUTSTANDING! You’ll be shocked at the positive reaction you get.
Thank you for listening to this episode of Construction Dream Team! Join us next week as Sue Dyer interviews another industry expert so you can build your dream team! 🙂