The Transition from Craft Worker to Manager

Mar 13, 2014

When construction craft workers become construction supervisors, they become part of management of both the construction project, and also of the construction company. In this supervisory capacity, they perform management functions rather than construction craft worker functions.

There are five basic functions that have been referred to as the “fundamental functions of management.” They are: planning, organizing, directing, controlling, and staffing. Each of these functions, and its relevance to the construction supervisor, is described below.


Planning can be defined as setting goals and objectives, and determining specific elements to be accomplished, in order to ensure their fulfillment.

Planning involves determining how to get from where we are now to where we want to be.

Planning is done in terms of both long-term and short-term planning.

Planning is best accomplished by deliberate thought, followed by writing down the plan. When the plan is written down, it becomes part of project documentation, and importantly, it then also becomes a communication tool for assessing the plan, and for communicating it to others.

It has been observed that planning is the management function that many managers do not perform as well as they should (even though they frequently believe that they are doing so).


Organizing can be defined as lining up and obtaining all of the necessary resources to fulfill the plan, and giving them the structure to implement both the long-term plan and the short-term plan.

The resources necessary for the fulfillment of the plan include: materials, equipment, tools, people, documents, and time, and so forth.

These resources do not simply appear. Rather, management effort, in the performance of the organizing function, is necessary to obtain each of them and to place them into a proper array for the fulfillment of the plan.


Directing consists of communicating the plan and energizing the human resources to accomplish the plan. Directing entails setting objectives, assigning tasks, giving instructions, and communicating and enforcing policies.


Controlling can be defined as monitoring the plan and its execution. Controlling entails measuring results, comparing results with expectations, evaluating the significance of differences, and doing what is necessary to make corrections when there are deviations from expectations.

Controlling also involves making the determination as to whether to “stay the course” with the existing plan, to modify the plan, or to formulate a new plan.


Staffing is defined as locating, hiring, training, and developing the people who are necessary to implement the plan, and to fulfill the objectives.

Staffing includes recruiting, hiring, evaluating, promoting, reprimanding dismissing, compensating, and rewarding the people who are performing the project.

It is important for the supervisor to understand that the staffing function also includes training and professional development of the people in a construction company. Making it possible for the people in a construction company to expand their skills and to enhance their knowledge base is a basic function of management. This investment in people through training and professional development is an investment that will pay dividends over a long period of time.

These are the fundamental management functions that the supervisor will engage in during the course of performing his or her role in management.

Reprinted with permission from Construction Supervision, available through RSMeans

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