There are few things that I hate more than hearing “it’s not my job”. It is one of the fastest ways to end up on my shortlist when it comes to layoffs and at the bottom of the long list to rehire. We are a small electrical contractor and tend to hover in the 15-25 range in terms of total employees. The combination of small crews and the nature of construction means that tasks and responsibilities are in a constant state of flux. Collaboration becomes an absolute necessity rather than an HR catchphrase.
I have seen the owner sweep the floor and the office ladies break down pallets. Our flexibility is one of our greatest strengths because it allows us to respond quickly and tackle unconventional projects. However, there can be a downside to this approach as well. I’ve seen the owner sweep the floor when he could be mentoring a junior supervisor or troubleshooting a complex system. Flexibility can lead to being spread too thin or losing sight of priorities.
In order to take full advantage of a collaborative atmosphere, everyone has to understand the tasks that require completion and the urgency of each one. An overflowing garbage can is not as important as a critical system malfunction but it does still need to be done. It’s important to involve workers in the big picture and provide them with the knowledge and autonomy to make their own decisions and act upon them.