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What's Your Management Style?

I’m lucky enough to know a few dozen female contractors, through years of networking, conventions and late night phone calls. At a dinner in NYC a few years ago, the topic came up about the differences between male and female contractors on a construction project. 

While everyone had a slightly different experience, one aspect was common, the women dropped small hints to the workers once or twice before coming right out and stating what was wanted.

One contractor shared her story of trying to get a young male carpenter to take more time on his finish work. She would inspect the job with him in tow, talking pleasantly but pausing to notice a rough spot on wood trim or to run her fingers over a hole the carpenter forgot to fill. It was her hope that the young man would see that she was discovering these small flaws and pay more attention to his work.

Unfortunately, the carpenter did not change. His work wasn’t poor, but it lacked finesse. Finally, the contractor took him aside and mentioned the problem. The young man was surprised. When told that she had tried to get the point across to him by touching or feeling the errors, he admitted that the hints had gone right over his head. He never made the connection.

The rest of the women contractors could identify with that and they all shared similar stories. 

Why do we feel the need to hint around before getting to the point? Maybe something we learned a long time ago about not hurting anyone’s feelings. 

At any rate, it’s counterproductive and can detract from the construction project. So the next time you’re inclined to drop a hint, don’t waste your time. Point out the problem and offer a solution. You’ll save time and that will save money.

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