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Gene Conway presentation at NECA 2018

Insights on Evaluating Labor Performance

In light of the electrical contracting industry’s struggles to find enough qualified labor talent to respond to growing construction demand, getting a read on each person’s contribution to the success and profitability of each project has become especially important.

On Monday Gene Conway, vice president of sales for Tricomm Services Corp., an IT and telecom specialty contracting firm based in Moorestown, N.J., led NECA contractors through a thorough and thought-provoking examination of the variables that influence labor productivity and offered real-world techniques for measuring and acting on critical measures of employee performance.

In his presentation, titled “Evaluating Labor Productivity and Contribution,” Conway focused not just on performance metrics but also on the psychology of how they can improve or inhibit the performance of individual workers.

He walked attendees through a very straight-forward technique for tracking and understanding labor contribution to productivity and project success, using simple tables in Excel spreadsheets built with data every contractor already has on each job they do. He also outlined simple performance metrics relating to the various roles, including craft labor, estimating, purchasing, project manager, foreman and electrician.

By examining the performance of the crews on different jobs compared with the results of those jobs it’s possible to identify not just the highest performers and those not getting it done, but also those average performers who nonetheless make the team better in subtle ways.

“You will find some technicians or others in various roles where the job just always works out well,” Conway said. Most contractors, his own firm included, could do a better job rewarding exceptional performance, even within the constraints of labor contracts, precedence and protocol, Conway said.

Along the way, Conway peppered what could have been a very dry presentation with real world advice for contractor management. “If in your area you get word of an iconic, high profile project, the kind we all love to be associated with, my advice is to run away,” he said. “The chance that you’ll actually make money on that kind of project is very low.”

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