The content for this newsletter is by Fernando Gutierrez, project manager for K and K Masonry, a member of Nebraska Masonry Alliance.

Communication in the workplace.

Most of us have been conditioned from when we were young to avoid getting yelled at, tell people what they want to hear. No one wants to deliver bad news, so we avoid it and give false hope. In the construction industry, this is a dangerous domino effect. One of the biggest challenges we face is scheduling. When one trade is late or takes longer to do their work, it greatly impacts everyone else. It’s important we learn when it comes to communication, we must be clear and direct. Even if it means telling a general contractor you will be two weeks behind schedule getting to the job. It’s better to know this a month in advance rather than a day before you are supposed to show up. Even though they might be upset, there is time in there to plan and shuffle things around. Not to mention, they can let the next contractor know of the delay so they can schedule appropriately. Work hard to become someone who has a reputation of doing what they say they will do and when you give an answer, it’s one they can trust. It will greatly benefit you in any career you choose to pursue. And chances are even if you deliver bad news, when you do it early and communicate clearly with facts the person is generally more understanding. Avoiding the situation doesn’t help anyone.

Safety on the jobsite.

“Listen up! Speak up!” When it comes to safety on a jobsite, don’t do anything you aren’t comfortable doing. You need to be your own judge. If you are asked to do something you don’t feel comfortable with, you need to speak up and tell them why. Which also means you need to be educated on proper safety techniques. The trainings are there for a reason: to protect you. If you see someone doing something that is unsafe, make sure you speak up and tell them. Look out for yourself and your co-workers. So, the motto, “listen up, speak up” is just that. Listen up during the trainings and educate yourself so you know what’s safe and what isn’t. Then be willing to speak up if you don’t feel comfortable with the directions you are given.

Math in the field.

Basic math skills are important to know. You can’t always trust what the calculator says. It’s easy to input a number wrong. You must know in advance a number that will be close to what you expect to see on the screen. For instance, if you know there are seven brick per square foot, and you have 945 square feet of wall to brick you should know the number will be close to 6300 bricks. If you think you type 7 x 945 into your calculator but you type 70 x 945 and you’ll get 66,150 bricks needed for the job. This should send up a red flag to you. Ordering 66,150 brick for a project instead of 6,615 bricks is a major difference and could end up costing you a lot of money in a simple error. The cliff notes. Don’t always trust the number on the calculator. Your basic math skills will be imperative for you to know so your common sense can kick in if the number that comes back to you doesn’t quite seem right.