Say it out loud.

When I was growing up two of my brothers were in the same age range and worked in Daddy’s home renovations business like I did. My older brother was out in the world, flying solo, a fledgeling, by then. I mentioned one of my brothers in a previous post. The other one had (has) his idiosyncratic moments as well. He would delight in nodding his head in response to verbal questions. For example, he might respond by shaking his head side to side if you yelled to him, “hey do you want to work overtime tonight to finish this task?” Normally, that response presupposes that one could see him. Which one could not many times. He thought it was the funniest thing in the world to do that. It must have been his own private joke-nobody else thought it remotely funny.

A good friend of mine from high school days is very good about rounding up the ‘old’ group when we are all in town. We used to meet at the all-night burger joint near our neighborhood after dates, eat silver-dollar sized sliders and lie about how masterfully we handled the woman we’d just taken home before the 11 or 12 o’clock curfew. He invariably invites one of the guys that I didn’t know that well-and liked even less. Over the years, it’s become a joke to the other guys that Bustle (not his real name) was my most bestest buddy back then.

While trying to crystallize my thoughts on male and female communication…I realized that communicating with women is impossible for me to dissect, analyze, make structured, rational or verbalize. So, I’ll just leave that to people more glib than myself. To those who can explain why human beings from different planets coexist at all.

Every project that I manage starts with a pre-construction meeting. I ask the contractor to have all of his key subs at this meeting. I say with great pomp and emphasis something to the effect of, “We are going to open this restaurant or retail building on “X” date. To make that happen, all of your work needs to be completed by “Y” date. If you can’t meet that date, let’s figure it out right now…don’t wait until the 11th hour to say it’s an impossible schedule. Once you walk out of here today, you are on board with this schedule. Since all of your businesses involve more than one person-even your demise will not be an acceptable excuse for not completing your work by this date. We will open this restaurant or retail building with your help or hire another subcontractor to complete it at your expense.” Most of the time I then ask the client to confirm to the subs that time is of the essence.

Every project that I manage ends with some subcontractor or subcontractors not pulling their weight, not finishing on “Y”. The contractor then has to juggle, struggle and massage the remaining subs to pick up that slack. Did you ever hear that, “no good deed goes unpunished”? Good subcontractors always pick up the slack for the bad ones. And that ain’t right. It is, however, the way it works.

Sorry, I slipped off task. I’m trying to say that even with contracts holding subs to dates, contractors making dates clear, project managers and owners making the dates clear…subcontractors and suppliers miss dates.

Several times during my career, I’ve offered bonuses to contractors who finished projects early. I’ve never paid one of those bonuses.

I’m still trying to find the right communication technique. The one that gets to every stakeholder in a project and motivates them perfectly to perform top quality work, safely, at the lowest possible price, on the schedule that we all agree to before the project starts.

Until then, common sense would seem to dictate that I continue juggling quality, safety, schedule and costs to get the best possible combination on every project.