Tick tock

Every job needs a…

Umm. I was thinking about this question this morning and was wondering about the correct term. What does every job need?

A lead climber?

I have to admit that that is a concept I struggle with, but that is a topic for another time – so no.

A key person?

Not sure about that, it would imply others in the team have less relevance, with is also not what I am trying to say.

A site supervisor?

Well, yes and no, I am thinking of someone more immediately involved in the workflow and a member of the team.

How about a metronome?

Yes, that’s it! By their actions, this person is keeping the job in sync with the time we have available to do it in. He or she ensures that we do not rush in during the first hour, to run out of steam come lunchtime, makes sure that everybody is ticking along nicely, not beyond their capacity, but also not standing around getting bored and cold. Ensures that should we need extra help this gets called in in time and so on…

How do they do this? Certainly not by shouting at people or by applying pressure, but rather by setting the pace by example, mucking in and helping to get the rhythm right. If you are the climber in the tree for example, you may take on a metronome function when dismantling a canopy by observing the ground crew, by defining pieces of a size that allow the ground crew to process them in the time it takes you to prepare the next piece and get yourself positioned. This allows for an efficient, optimised workflow.

Consider breaks. Breaks are a good thing. They allow for time to recuperate, to interact and review how the job is going with team mates, to re-focus on the task at hand. When there is the time and space to do so, great. But there are also jobs where they can be disruptive, taking away from the focus on a task at hand, where it may be preferable to make the call to carry on working – to then maybe to make an earlier lunchbreak.

These are the kind of aspects that the metronome on the job is considering, how to ensure the job is not progressing in fits and bursts of activity, interspersed by phases of inactivity and idleness, but simply chugging along, systematically working through the challenges step by step.

This kind of oversight creates an atmosphere which feels more controlled and comfortable to work in, rather than taking it easy for the first two thirds of the job to then realise you are running out to time and to start rushing like mad, everybody stressed out and running at high revs, the boss screaming down the line… and mistakes start to happen.

Get that pace right.

Choosing the right pace/ rhythm/ cadence is an essential part of an applied safety culture and a core element of ergonomic work practices, therefore it is certainly something worth bearing in mind.