Planning and Executing Projects (Kalos Leadership Meeting)

Planning and Executing Projects (Kalos Leadership Meeting)

In this Kalos Leadership meeting, Kalos founders Robert Orr, Keith Huntington, and Bryan Orr talk about planning and executing projects. Kalos is an HVAC business, but it also focuses on commercial refrigeration, electrical, and construction projects.
By Bryan Orr

In the early days of the company, the founders settled on the name “Kalos” because it means ”integrity” in Greek. The principles behind the name have set the tone for Kalos’s practices in its HVAC, electrical, refrigeration, and construction projects. Overall, the Kalos business model is about being up-front about pricing, doing the very best work possible, and treating others how we’d like to be treated. All of those things establish positive relationships and set expectations.

The Kalos vision for the future focuses on communication and continuous improvement. Kalos wants to give its employees room to grow and allow them to establish a good work-life balance. As employees experience growth in their personal and professional lives, Kalos can do better work.

When doing construction projects, it’s important that the projects are completed on time, stick to the budget, and satisfy the customers. Those things make up the project mission, which is the priority of the project leader and superintendent. The best project leaders and superintendents don’t accept excuses and ensure the project is seen through and done right. They also examine the context and data surrounding a project to plan and execute the project mission. Wide-narrow-wide thinking, which we apply in troubleshooting, also applies to planning and strategizing construction projects; strategies and plans require tradespeople to consider the big picture and the details.

To plan a project, Robert and Keith consider the entire site. The drawings often don’t represent the reality of the site, so we need to catch inconsistencies and anticipate issues before they occur. To do that, the founders build the projects in their head as they factor in the job specifications and challenges with the location, including obstructed areas, heavily populated spaces, and places without drainage. Asking questions early and getting the labor, materials, and equipment prepared from the beginning are also key factors of successful projects. Once all preparations are in place, project leaders can lay out the tasks and objectives for each day.

Everyone has a role in determining a project’s outcome, not just the leaders. Trainees and apprentices can do their part during the execution phase by arriving on time and being ready to begin working. Following directions, learning how to read plans, and keeping the work area clean and safe are also critical responsibilities for trainees and apprentices. Reading plans and specs will come naturally with practice; a single class on reading plans likely won’t prove useful without an outside commitment to keep learning. Taking correction readily is another key to success.

Tradespeople and journeymen can also contribute to a project meaningfully by arriving on time and ready to work, applying best practices, and following plans and specs. They can also communicate with leadership to ask questions and request clarification as needed to do the best possible job.

Foremen and superintendents can execute a job well by making the tradespeople and journeymen commit to the job. They can achieve that by arriving with a clear plan for the day, enforcing best practices, and navigating issues that the tradespeople and journeymen might not see. They communicate clearly and constructively, set firm requirements, and follow up with their team and the customer.

The founders also discuss the best tools for planning and communication, including Loom, Google Calendar, Trello, and others that have made Kalos operations run smoothly for years. Loom videos are great for communicating within an organization. Google Calendar is great for keeping track of events and deadlines in your personal and professional life. Trello also allows you to track the progress of a project. You have to give these platforms special attention and follow up with people while you use them to make sure your communication is clear and to prevent team members from making excuses.

Good project leaders know how to keep their teams doing their best work and offer specific praise and credit where it is due. They know how to get engaged early and have productive conversations to prevent issues before they start. It’s everyone’s job, however, to stay engaged and resolve interpersonal conflicts with humility.

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