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Construction Services Initiatives in Response to BFES Survey Results

February, 2010, by the CS Labor Management Council


Communication, Climate, Supervisor, Upper Management

Build the Team

In 2007, The LMC recommended a multi-pronged effort to eliminate things that are a detriment to CS’s functioning as a cohesive team and enhance things that benefit it – to encourage trades people and managers to interact as colleagues.

  • Changes in the estimating process are including more trades people in estimating.
  • Trades people get copies of the time estimates for projects they are working on.
  • Summaries of feedback from CS’s online customer satisfaction surveys are published in In The News and supervisors are encouraged to share specific comments with the trades people who have worked on a project.
  • The LMC sponsored three Build the Team meetings to encourage CS-wide dialogue on issues arising and give everyone a chance to have their perspectives heard and potentially influence the outcome of decisions. Key issues were: the feasibility of a work schedule of four 10-hour days and accountability at all levels of CS.

Improve the quality of hires (new and promotional) (an initiative since 2005)

Additional recommendations by the LMC for improving the hiring process were adopted by CS in late 2008. The Council plans periodic reviews of how the standard process is being applied and with what results.

  • Plant Operations recently made changes in the hiring process for all its departments. The LMC has arranged a briefing at the CS All-Staff meeting in March to provide CS employees information about changes.

Clear Standards, Clear Communication, Clear Consequences (an initiative since 2005)

  • Input from a 2009 Build the Team meeting on “Accountability at All Levels of Construction Services helped the LMC identify a key accountability question: Is this (whatever we are doing/not doing) in the best interest of Construction Services and our customers? This question can open peer-to-peer as well as supervisor-to-employee communication to promote accountability. Use of Crucial Confrontations skills can improve our effectiveness in holding each other accountable.

Previous activities related to this initiative include:

  • In 2005, participative development of a statement of the Ideal Construction Services department; the statement is featured on a calendar distributed annually to all CS employees.
  • Crucial Confrontations training which Construction Services piloted in 2006-7, training managers and employees, and which the LMC recommended as potentially useful for all of Business & Finance
  • A major presentation on the corrective discipline process at an All-Staff meeting

Communication, Climate

Maintain an active, volunteer Labor Management Council charged with developing and monitoring initiatives that lead to positive change in Construction Services

  • The Council was established in response to the first BFES survey and continues to operate with a full membership of three trades and three management volunteers and a paid facilitator.

Continue interactive, quarterly meetings of all CS employees (an initiative since 2005)

  • The LMC continued to solicit topics and questions, present reports and structure the agendas for the quarterly all-staff meetings. For example, during 2008 and 2009, in addition to the CS director’s regular Q&A, Rich Robben presented information about Plant Operations restructuring and answered questions, and Chris Miller of Staff Benefits presented updates and information about changes in benefits and open enrollment.

Stop the rumors (an initiative since 2008)

  • LMC Highlights in In The News regularly contain encouragement to report and check out rumors. Reports of rumors are passed along to the director and corrections and clarifications are provided in In The News and/or at the Quarterly All-Staff Meetings.

Increase the number of CS employees who receive information through In The News, the CS newsletter (an initiative since 2005)

  • A few trades people have signed up to receive In The News via email. For further progress, effort is needed to increase trades people’s at-work access to UM email and the CS web site, as well as more consistent distribution of paper copies, especially to those working on campus projects.


Investigate the feasibility of a four 10-hour day schedule as requested during group meetings on the results of the 2008 BFESS.

  • An extensive consideration of the feasibility of a CS work schedule of four 10-hour days consumed much of the LMCs time and effort in 2009. The Council gathered input from both employees and customers. Although adopting a four day week CS-wide was not supportable, the LMC adopted the following recommendation: The LMC recognizes that there are particular shops for which, or special occasions when, in the interest of customer service or special, temporary employee need, scheduling flexibility is highly desirable. Therefore, we strongly recommend that CS keep and improve that flexibility in the interest of improving customer relations and employee morale.

Improve the process for assigning work during Season Days

  • Because of feedback passed along by the LMC after the 2008 Season Days, the process for assigning Season Day work was changed in 2009 to feature earlier deadlines for requesting Season Day work and for scheduling projects.

Improve the Material Ordering & Expediting System (an initiative since 2006)

The LMC views this system as essential to the effectiveness of trades people in the field and deserving of continuing attention.

  • Changes in staffing have improved management of tools and equipment.
  • Recommendations resulting from audits are being implemented to reduce loss and control purchasing.


New tools and technologies

  • A trade show featuring prime vendors was held in December 2009 as a way to help keep people up-to-date on new materials and equipment. The idea for a trade show is related to the work of a task team charged to establish a process for finding and evaluating tools and technologies.


Increase the rate of participation in the next Business & Finance Employee Satisfaction Survey

  • CS will continue the practice of providing an opportunity to complete a paper version of the survey an all-staff meeting held during the survey period in March 2010. LMC members serve as liaisons for the survey and will work with the survey administrators to apply the ideas for improvement identified after the 2008 survey.

Content modified: March, 2010

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