Ask Dr. Tim: I manage a team of pretty tough construction workers

Ask Dr. Tim: I manage a team of pretty tough construction workers


Last week was a hard week at work. I manage a team of pretty tough construction workers. I have found that the best way to manage them is to invite them into my life, talk about their home life, and work as a team. Of course, I want them to like me. The problem is that I think I have lost control of the team. Likening it to football, there are so many strong personalities that at times everyone is in control…meaning no one is in control. There doesn’t seem to be a quarterback. I have had to break up a few bad arguments, which almost came to blows. Most everyone questions my decisions.

I am thinking of bagging everything and heading off to surf in Mexico.



Dear Greg,

Mexico must seem pretty nice right now. But putting that on the shelf for now, there may be another option. Take your leadership back. Boundaries are important in life, and certainly on the job. Experience has shown that most work teams struggle with having a “buddy” as a boss. Of course it is natural that you want them to like you. But perhaps they need to like you as a boss, not a buddy. Buddies typically have a difficult time providing discipline, especially if you needed to fire someone. In fact, it sounds like you may have more of a frat house than a team.

I like your metaphor of a football team. While it is important for the team members to make suggestions, ultimately it is the quarterback who executes the plays. So perhaps you need to decide your role. Gathering a group of friends for a beer or “making touchdowns”?

Dr. Tim

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