Site management challenge

Site management challenge

The site management challenge is to ensure that everyone is productive.

Outline and Background of Case Study

A common issue on site is the requirement for a subbie (subcontractor) to provide more people resources to maintain their programme and prevent delays to following subcontractors/ trades. Managing subcontractor performance can be a difficult circumstance to cope with.

One example is the requirement for an electricial subcontractor to complete in-wall rough-in so that the gyprock subcontractor can close the wall and allow finishing trades to come through sequentially. In this case the site engineer, a recent Graduate from University has noticed that the gyprock contractor is slow installing the wall frames. This will delay the electrician from starting its in-wall rough-in (commonly refered to as first fix – the general cabling and system install).

The site engineer is tasked to deal with the situation and asks both the gyprocker and the electrician for more resources to be provided to the site at an onsite meeting. The trades indicate they are reluctant to provide more people resources for fear of being held up by the other trade and being less productive. therefore losing money. Clearly the situation of losing money as a result of unproductive people resources is causing significant stress between the site team and its subcontractors.

Purpose - aims and objectives

The purpose of setting out this example is to highlight the necessity of building relationships within your construction teams.

The aim is to highlight to students that the construction industry is people oriented and that building and maintaining relationships is a priority (clearly not at any cost however!). There is a fine line or balance to be found in negotiations (this point may be brought back to negotiating workload in group assignments).

The objective is to Generate discussion around negotiation generally, show there is a balance between current work/workload and future opportunity. Identify that in the larger scheme of things construction is a relatively small industry and give some thought to relationship building workshops as part of induction processes.

Antecedents (precursor)

Antecedents associated with the case study above may be as simple as recognising individual responsibility and to some degree association. For example working together to resolve the problem may actually help each of the contractors make more money from the project. Building rapport with the subcontractors and encouraging them to deal responsibly with each other may also help.

Protective Factors

  • Early intervention together with a motivation to resolve issues in a positive way useful protective factors.
  • Agile problem-solving and sensemaking i.e. making sense of the circumstance also serve as useful protective factors.

Risk Factors

  • It has been identified that in many of the case studies associated with this project there is a tension in resilience between protective factors and risk factors i.e. the stronger the protective factors the less of an impact the risk factors would have.
  • For the purposes of this case study discussion around a negative approach to the problem may stand to enhance a student's learning of the ballot fits associated with resilience.

Resilience or coping

  • Some discussion around possible outcomes associated with the case study with a particular focus on the positive is useful.
  • A capability to defuse a situation of the kind identified is positive.
  • Providing solutions and a way forward, both immediately and in the short term are helpful.


Higher levels of competence together with a better understanding of the concept of separating people from the process in circumstances of tension can be discussed as positive consequences arising from this particular case study.

Contribution by

Professor Peter Davis, University of Newcastle

Pat McAllister, Hansen Yuncken

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