Tool Tracking: Building Trust through Accountability
This article is part of our series on The Power of Trust.
Here’s a fact that every business must realize when it comes to employee morale and loyalty. Once trust is lost between managers and staff, it’s difficult to get back. If your company is like most, when a tool goes missing on a job site, your tool manager moves into ‘detective’ mode, trying to find out who had it last. Once the questions and finger-pointing begin, he’s left with a team of people blaming someone else – or each other, causing a ripple effect that continues to grow. More often than not, no one is actually to blame. Most tool loss isn’t stealing, it’s simply an oversight of responsible employees who have misplaced a tool or didn’t realize it was their responsibility to retrieve it.
The truth is, If the blame game starts happening in your organization, it can spiral out of control unless the trust can be reestablished. Plain and simple, if a company is still using sign out sheets for tool management, the chances of maintaining accurate accountability is notably at risk, so the wrong people could, and often do, get blamed. And if “lecturing and telling employees what to do begins, it implies that (the manager) doesn’t have faith in their decision-making abilities,” said Reliable Plant Online.
Three key steps
When it comes to tool management in the field, what’s the best way to create trust through accountability? Let’s have a look at three proven steps.
- A current inventory of tools must be tracked and managed – everything can’t just be bought and expensed to the job, tools last longer than the job and need to be managed.
- Responsibility needs to be assigned to the current person who is using a tool. This person needs to be able to “accept” this responsibility – and a record needs to be kept. Accepting responsibility builds accountability and trust.
- A method of monitoring the transfer of tool responsibility in the field needs to be practiced. This allows responsibility to move along with the tool.
The third step is where most construction teams fail and the trust is lost. Sign-out lists or Excel spreadsheet “responsibility lists” have been tried by thousands of contractors but these documents are rarely kept updated, eventually becoming useless, since tools move from person to person in the field. As a reaction, companies will deploy command and control tactics such as not allowing tools to move from job to job without first being checked into the office. This intense scrutiny is usually the beginning of eroding trust.
A better way
When responsibility is clearly defined, your guys will do a better job of keeping track of their tools. If held accountable in a tool sharing system, employees understand they have a problem to solve rather than transferring blame on to others.
Having visibility into where tools are at all times leads to better efficiency, saves money and establishes accountability – which is the key attribute of trust. With productivity at the crossroads of success and failure for any construction operations team, the impact of tool loss can be immediately felt.
Read our full article on The Power of Trust.
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More Tool Tracking Tips available including these articles:
Article on how to stop Tool Hoarding
Tool Tracking Beacon Technology Guide
Technology Alone is Not the Solution to Tool Theft
Tool Tracking is a Clear Way to Improve Operations
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