Tag Archives: leadership

Getting the Best from Your Interns

A growing number of companies have realized the benefits to bringing an Internship Program to their organization.  Larger contractors have used Interns for years but the experience has become more common for many contractors, no matter their size.

For all the benefits that an Internship Program can bring to an organization, few companies really exhaust their efforts to make the experience all that it can be.  Let me share a few signs of a poor Internship Program.

  • College students are not interviewed; just “invited & assigned”
  • Interns are given primarily administrative or low difficulty jobs
  • Interns are not included in strategic based meetings, decisions, etc.
  • The company does not work to determine the potential of the Intern
  • The Intern is not questioned by their “host” company about new trends being taught in school

Ask many Interns who have experienced one or more of the signs listed above and you will find an Intern who heads back to school considering other career choices.  At the least, the Intern will probably not consider being hired by the same company they served their Internship.

If you believe that Internships are worth the effort, and include an Internship Program as part of your company’s strategy to grow the company by finding the future workers and leaders, then you will be quite pleased with this article.  If you are interested in starting an Internship Program or want to upgrade your current efforts, then this article will really resonate with you and provide you with some excellent building tips.  Remember, the Internship Program should be part of your future growth plans.

Let’s look at how to get the very best from your Interns…and your Internship Program.


  1. 1. Interview Intern Candidates as if You Were Hiring

Asking the local college to send over a few candidates to Intern with you is not going to help identify the best Intern Candidate.  You must plan to interview Intern Candidates in the same manner that you might interview any job candidate.  While the questions may be different, you need to prepare by interviewing the Intern to determine their aptitude and attitude.  Anything less than this level of commitment and you will have only brought on short-term administrative assistants.

  1. Identify, Train, and Commit an Intern “Point of Contact”

I conduct training for many contractors on how to be a leader to an Intern.  But first, a company needs to identify the right candidate to be an Intern Point of Contact, or IPC.  This person needs to be someone who will oversee and coach the Intern on their role, responsibilities, and their job expectations.  The IPC needs to be trained on how to interact with their Intern, how to address improvements when needed, even how to determine if the Intern should be a future candidate for employment.  Finally, the IPC needs to be fully committed to fulfilling all that is needed to make the Intern’s experience enjoyable, educational, and encouraging.  It is quite common for contractors to hire employees who may have served an Internship while they were in college.

  1. Develop Goals & Exit Strategies for the Intern

The Intern, while interviewing, should be told that they will have goals set if they are selected.  This effort must be accomplished and delivered on the Interns very first day with your company.  The Goals might be reflective of what the IPC believes the Intern should be striving to achieve during the time-period of the Internship. 

Once the Intern has been around for a few weeks, the IPC should sit down with the Intern and begin to map out some Exit Strategies for the Intern’s departure.  The Exit Strategies might be a continuation of the Goals, but they may also include other achievements that the IPC believes the Intern capable of finishing as they complete their Internship.  The Exit Strategies might include preparing for and making a presentation to senior leaders on their Internship experience or, it might include having the Intern complete some written exercise that has lasting value such as a Standard Operating Procedure, or a software instructional book, etc. 

  1. Match the Intern with Interest & Educational Desire

To gain the best from your Intern it will be important to match their focus with something that will interest them and provide for some educational value.  Part of any internship should include introducing the Intern to some of the realities of construction or the specialty of your organization.  Additionally, it is wise to ask the Intern what is an area that captures their interest or desire. 

The Intern’s interest should be discussed during the interviewing phase, before they are extended an offer to spend their internship with your company.  Once they arrive, a brief confirmation of what they shared as their interest is then matched with a possible role that brings as much of the opportunity and educational value to their time with you.  Not only does this meet their need, it also sends them back to school with a positive attitude and experience with your company, something that they will brag about to their Academic Advisor and to any of their peers interested in a future Internship.

  1. Empower the Intern with Some Authority & Responsibility

If you are to give the Intern a great experience by educating them on how the “real world” works, you will need to invest some authority and responsibility into their time spent with you.  Short of them running the company, you can still empower an Intern with some authority, allowing them to make decisions that do not require them to have permission. Remember, they always have their IPC to throw ideas at, and who can counsel them on better options.  Giving the Intern a clear role description and the responsibilities that go along with the role reinforces the Intern that they were not brought in only to make copies of drawings or to file customer files.

  1. Schedule Regular Follow-Up by the IPC & Other Company Leaders

Depending on the length of the Internship, there should be periodic and regular follow-up sessions with the Intern.  And, because so many companies fail at prioritizing the time spent with an Intern, I would highly recommend that a regular schedule of more formal Follow-up Meetings are arranged between the Intern, their IPC, and other company leaders.  The list of “other” company leaders might include the Owner, a more Senior Leader, and a Human Resource Manager.  Conducting the Follow-ups with such a diversity of leaders will reinforce the commitment that your company has to making the Intern, and the Internship Program, a satisfying and a learning experience for the company. 

  1. Create a Team Exercise that the Intern Leads

One of the most interesting and beneficial observations I have made of companies who have a great Internship Program is engaging the Intern in creating and facilitating a team-based exercise.  The exercise might be job related or it might be team-building related.  It’s not critical what the exercise is but it will provide the Intern with the chance to facilitate a meeting that they control, thus providing an opportunity for you to monitor just how well they do in a mixed-group of people.

  1. Insure that the Intern Spends an Evening with the Team

Only so much can be learned about an Intern during the work day.  While grabbing a cup of coffee with an Intern, possibly taking them out lunch every few weeks, are good things to do, and should be encouraged, getting the Intern out for an evening with one or more of the company employees often furthers the experience for the company and Intern.  This is not about going out and getting drunk, but instead, taking the Intern to a more relaxing environment, allowing them to share more freely how they are doing, what type of things they feel they are learning, and do they have any ideas or recommendations to share about the Internship experience.

  1. Assess the Internship for All Involved Parties

By the end of the Internship process it will be important to capture any learned lessons and opportunities for improvement that has been gained.  Often, a company will only ask the Intern about their experience.  I would recommend that you also include those who were part of the Internship Program, whether directly (IPC), or indirectly.  Gathering feedback from the multiple perspectives can contribute to strengthening your Internship Program.

Internships are a great way for you to catch a close-up view of some of tomorrow’s workforce.  It’s a chance to see what sort of talent is out there to hire.  It’s also a chance for you to challenge your staff to recognize the importance of working with younger workers, being more sensitive about how your company “on-boards” new workers, and assess how effective the company is on training and development.

Internships are not about giving a college student an easy go of it, allowing them to spend eight to twelve weeks, maybe even sixteen weeks or more, just hanging out.  No, the Internship should be viewed as an honor to experience and an awakening to how hard great companies work to be successful.

Want to get the best from your Interns?  Then put some of the steps presented here to work in your company and watch the energy that takes place between your Interns and many of the company employees who will interact with the Intern.  It really is a win-win scenario.

Here’s to Getting the Best from Your Next Intern!

Brad Humphrey

The Contractor’s Best Friend


What Do Foremen Really Do?

Today, the Construction Foreman is one lost soul!  For many, it is merely a glorified best worker or leadman position.  They really aren’t in charge of anything nor do they really have the authority to execute needed plans on a site.  In the worst-case scenario, they are glorified doers, not paid to think, just execute what their leader orders.

What a complete waste of human potential!

The Construction Foreman, if positioned and supported right, should be one of the most important and critical leaders to achieving success for the construction projects engaged.  Let me share with you what good Construction Foremen demonstrate.  If you are a Foreman, see how many match up with your current approach.

  1. Foremen Seek Work Plans Early

The best Foremen I’ve witnessed over the years are those who regularly ask for their next projects’ file.  They want to get a head-start in reviewing plans, locations, job profile information on the customer, surrounding challenges, etc.  Receiving the project info on the same day they are to start not only angers the best Foremen I’ve known, but leads to more quality, safety, and morale problems.

  1. Foremen Study Project Plans…and Ask Questions

The best Foremen I’ve witnessed never fake it.  They have learned, some the hard way, that waiting till you are on the job site is not the time to be asking questions that might have changed how you prepared, what equipment you would have brought, or even what workers you would have taken.  Briefly, the best Foremen want to study their plans, review their detail list of needed tools, equipment, materials, and to identify early who are the other contractors involved on the project.

  1. Foremen Follow Proven Methods…Consistently

The best Foremen I’ve witnessed don’t “experiment” without a prior reason and discussion to do so.  “Proven Methods” best represent a company’s Standard Operating Procedures, or SOPs.  For the smart contractor who has taken the time and pain to develop written SOPs, the Foremen will find, if they follow them, greater achievement than those sorry “bloats” that have nothing to follow.  FACT: Contractors who have written SOPs, and follow them, increase their productivity, Foremen pay, project quality, and most importantly, make going home every day healthy and unhurt a 100% guarantee.

  1. Foremen Update Their Leaders Regularly

The best Foremen I’ve witnessed simply keep their leaders updated on a regular basis.  They are transparent and realize that their leader, if updated, is better prepared to answer questions from the customer when caught off guard, AND, provide greater insights and consulting back to the Foreman that can help the job process improve.  I’ve witnessed the best Foreman calling their leader once a day, twice a day, even every few hours depending on the project and how “risky” the project.  The best Foremen I’ve witness do not work in a vacuum…nor do they want to!

  1. Foremen Prepare & Organize Every Day

The best Foremen I’ve witnessed prepare each new project, and each new day, as if it were the first time they led a project.  There is a reason great athletes, and great teams, practice warm-ups and basic drills, daily, prior to entering the more intellectual part of their preparation for their next opponent.  The best Foremen I’ve witnessed do this every day.  This can include insuring that every truck and trailer is packed with all the needed tools, equipment, components, etc.  This moves forward by doing a daily walk-about their job site, upon arrival, to ensure that no safety risks exist, and that overnight “project demons” have not changed or damaged the previous day’s effort.

  1. Foremen Prepare Their Crews on the Who, What, & How Much

The best Foremen I’ve witnessed consistently communicate with their crews who is assigned to what action and efforts.  They also communicate what the needs of the project are that day… “Do we need to do some extra housekeeping?  Do we need to start tearing down, clean, clean-up and stack the forms, etc.?”  And, the best Foremen I’ve witnessed always discuss “how much” needs to be accomplished by lunch or the end of the day.  This sets daily goals and gives the crew something tangible they can strive to achieve.

  1. Foremen Hold Crew Members & Themselves Accountable

The best Foremen I’ve witnessed realize that accountability moves through all workers, including themselves.  They do not look for easy passes by their senior leaders, realizing that their senior leader is also held accountable.  The best Foremen I’ve witnessed hold their own workers accountable by insuring the timely arrival to work, proper use of time during the day is followed, and that no one quits for the day too early and not before there is some level of housekeeping completed.  When the worker fails in their duty, they are spoken to first, reprimanded on a second incident, perhaps disciplined on a third offense, and even terminated on a fourth.  Most good and worthy employees get the message after the first or second corrective action taken by the Foreman.  For those who don’t connect the dots until the fourth incident, it’s often best to let them go before they infect their form of work ethic into other company employees.

  1. Foremen Embrace and Use Their Authority Wisely & Respectfully

The best Foremen I’ve witnessed have authority, given to them by their senior leaders, to use as needed to get jobs ready, executed, and cleaned-up so they can move to the next project.  The best Foremen I’ve witnessed realize that having such authority is precious and should not be squandered by smarting off to their leaders, cussing out their workers, and telling their customers to “take a hike.”  It is a privilege to be entrusted with the authority to make a project successful.  The best Foremen I’ve witnessed realize this and feel empowered to lead, with pride, their workers to be the beset crew possible in completing work, win the trust of their customers, and continued faith in them by their senior leaders.

It is an honor to be a leader.  The best Foremen I’ve witnessed believe this and realize that their work efforts, and results, influence their pay, their level of trust and respect among senior leaders and the owner, and, has the most influence for their own promotion to higher levels of responsibility, if that’s their goal.

What do Foremen really do?  I think a lot personally.  Show me a great Foreman and I’ll show you a leader who trains their followers, spends more time with new employees and those who are challenging the SOPs or the company’s requirements, and finally, who takes pride in being a leader.

Be the Foreman who strives for excellence.  Pay no attention to other Foremen who make fun of your preparation and organizational habits, knowing you will be rewarded while other non-performing Foremen may find themselves not doing things the right way…for another contractor.

Brad Humphrey

The Contractors’ Best Friend

[VIDEO] How to Meet & Greet Others

In much of your business life, you will only get one chance to make a great first impression. . With today’s 2 Minute Drill, “How to Meet & Greet Others,” you can start enhancing your skills in this area and learn how to properly meet & greet those you meet!


REMEMBER: You can watch all of our 2 Minute Drill series at videos.pinnacledg.com, and you can download the Pinnacle Development Group App to watch your training videos on any iOS, Android, or Windows device.