Four Ways to Hire Well – Construction Director
By Human Capital Group
13th November 2020
A bad hire for a housebuilding business can be catastrophic. As we’ve already heard in this series of blogs, the incorrect hire of a managing director could destroy a whole team, while the wrong land director could result in prime land going to your competitors.
But what of a Construction Director? How important is the right hire here and what are the consequences of a bad one?
Our Managing Director Gerard Ball has many years of experience of placing people into senior positions, so he knows how much thought and hard work goes into these placements.
To find out what happens when things go wrong, he has been talking to two housebuilding industry experts – Andy Beasley and Darren Humphreys.
Andy was previously Regional Chairman of Bellway Central and so knows a thing or two about senior leadership teams. Darren, previously CEO at SME Rectory Homes, spent a lot of time at some of the big players in the market (namely CALA and David Wilson) so has great insight to share.
- What traits are you looking for in a strong construction director?
- How has the role of construction director changed over the years?
- What’s the potential cost of a poor construction director hire to a division?
- What are we looking for in 3/6 months to know if we’ve made the right hire?
Read on for Andy and Darren’s key insights, but also be sure to watch the webinar in full where they discuss the three roles of Managing Director, Land Director and Construction Director.
1. At the interview stage, for a normal property division that is operating well, what traits are you looking for in a strong construction director?
Darren: “You need them to be quite balanced but fairly tough, robust characters. This is because they need to anticipate where potential problems are and where they need to focus their attentions. They need to be able to talk to people at all levels and be able to build good relationships.
“Construction Directors have to think quite far in the future, say 6-12 months in advance but also be up to date with everything currently going on at his site. They need to be flexible as one minute they could be supporting a future land acquisition and the next minute they could be dealing with on-site problems.”
Andy: “In many ways, the Construction Director is usually the strongest character in the boardroom in their division. They are people who are under a lot of pressure with a lot on their plates, so they need to stay in front of production timeframes and be flexible with their workload.”
2. How has the role of CD changed over the years?
Andy: “I think that a good Construction Director is worth their weight in gold. Before 2008, it used to be the Land Directors who were the ‘blue-eyed boys’ with the big salaries and all the kudos but this has now changed. Land is now easier to acquire and it’s the Construction Directors that have become essential in the coordination and organisation of all the work. At the end of the day, it’s delivering high quality units on time that is the most important thing.
“Interestingly, you are getting more Construction Directors who have university and higher education backgrounds these days. The spectrum of people that a Construction Director now has to deal with is phenomenal; everyone from the roof tiler’s labourer, to customers who are buying million-pound homes.”
Darren: “If you look at all the roles and the level of cultural change over the past 10 years, the change that construction directors have had to deal with is probably the most out of everyone in the industry. It is things like health and safety implications, growth of legislations, professionalism of the systems and processes and even behaviour expectations on site. The best ones have adapted to these changes whereas others have struggled and been left behind.”
3. What’s the cost of a poor CD hire to a division/company?
Darren: “It is definitely substantial. If a bad Construction Director hire leads to the loss of other good team members then it’s particularly worrying. I’d say that there is a shortage of good site managers so it’s fairly catastrophic if you lose them and the result is having to spend more money to turn it around.”
Andy: “I think it goes back to reputation which can easily be damaged by a bad Construction Director as they deal with so many different people. Rumours amongst contractors can be rife and this can be exacerbated by an ineffective Construction Director.”
4. What are we looking for in 3/6 months to know if we’ve made the right hire?
Darren: “In three months, you’d hope to see a full awareness of what the site risks are, where the challenges and opportunities lie for each site, as well as a good knowledge of his team. You’d also probably like to see some early assessments of their team, any performance issues and awareness of future sites.
“It’s a role that can be stuck into quite quickly and we would be looking for quicker results than with some of the other senior roles.”
Andy: “We know each week what construction work has been completed and what build completions are forecast in the next 2/4/8 weeks. This gives you a good benchmark to compare a Construction Director against.
“You also need to see them staying on top of reports from Building Inspectors and Health & Safety issues. This is easy to monitor on a weekly basis so there is no room to hide.”
Be sure to watch the webinar in full and make sure you catch part 2 of the ‘bad hire’ series where we’ll be discussing the following roles:
- Commercial Director
- Technical Director
- Finance Director
- Sales Director
If you’d like to never make a bad hire again, contact our Managing Director/President, Gerard Ball, today – gerard@HC-Group.co.uk