Hey Coach, 

I had a recent project performance review with my boss. He’s happy with my work except in one area—he thinks my crew and I make too many mistakes. Not huge mistakes, but the kind that cause delays and cost time. He tells me I need to do a better job of eliminating the recurring mistakes and preparing for the unexpected. I’m not sure how to do this. Please help!

Dear‭ ‬No Mistakes Nick‭,‬

Mistakes‭ ‬in construction‭, ‬and in life‭, ‬happen‭. ‬But your boss is right‭. ‬We have to learn from mistakes that we and our crew made and do what we can to ensure they don’t happen again‭. ‬His instruction to‬ “expect the unexpected”‭ ‬is easier to say than do‭. ‬Still‭, ‬consider these three tips as you tackle your challenges and aim to reduce the number of mistakes‭.


Find 15 to 20 minutes to reflect on the last few mistakes you or your crew made. Then ask yourself reflective, thought-provoking questions such as: 

  • What is one thing I could have done to have avoided that mistake?
  • What system can I apply or change to ensure it won’t happen again?
  • What is a similar situation I might examine in which a mistake like this could surface?

It’s good practice to ask these questions at the end of each week—or more often if needed.


Slow down and start thinking proactively. By taking time to think ahead, you position yourself to anticipate potential problems in which mistakes could be made. How great would it be if you could anticipate a situation and set up a good solution before it becomes a problem! You could then avoid the problem instead of being forced to react to it. 

To practice being proactive, bring to mind about three different workplace scenarios that could go bad for you. Then think through the solutions and the actions you would take to avoid the problem now and in the future. Repeat this exercise at least once a week. You’ll find that practicing being proactive will make you a more effective leader. 


Constantly be on the alert for cracks in your crews and on your projects, then deal with them immediately. What seems innocent and tolerable today may lead to bigger problems in the future.

For example, you may have noticed small conflicts, occasional tardiness, or crew members not pulling their weight. These small cracks are signals you likely didn’t pay attention to when they happened. They seemed minor, and, besides, you were too busy to spend energy dealing with them. Then these cracks grew and, before long, you had to spend considerable time and energy dealing with them. Not how you want to spend your day. Recognizing cracks early and then taking action to minimize them leads to faster resolutions. Don’t wait until the cracks are huge to address them!


To become better prepared at expecting the unexpected, it’s important take time to reflect, anticipate, and observe what is going on around you. When you do this well, you can avoid mistakes and eliminate recurring ones. You are proactively solving problems before they become critical. Ultimately that means you’ll never be in the position of saying, “I never saw that coming.” 

About The Coach

As a leadership development expert, Randy Goruk works with construction industry leaders to improve employee engagement and business growth. Register to receive his Leadership Tip of the Week at www.LeadersEdge360.com, or contact him directly to learn how he can help you and your team: randy@LeadersEdge360.com.

Modern Contractor Solutions, June 2021
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