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My first job as an Electrician Foreman

Hello, I have just secured a job as an electrical foreman on an overseas
construction site. I have been an electrician for over 20 years and I am
happy with the skill level I have as an electrician. I can fit in pretty
well with any crew as an electrician and am a confident person in this role. I have also been a foreman on a temporary basis a few times before, filling in for the regular foreman.
I am due to start work as an electricians foreman next week and I was
wondering if someone could give me advice on how I should best deal with my new position and if they had some advice on how to be in charge of a 10 man crew of electricians. I believe that my boss will be supportive of me in my new role but he isn't aware of how little experience I have as a foreman.
I am quite nervous about how I am going to deal with the job in the most
professional manner that I can.
Technically I know the job but I might lack in man management skills.
Any good advice would be appreciated.

Boogaloo




Sherry's advice


There are a number of issues you should consider before you start this job:

1) Management Skills - Being a competent supervisor is completely different from being a competent worker. You will need to not only manage your 10-person team, but also manage up (your manager). That is to say, you will find that more of your time will be related to organizational and administrative work than you ever thought possibe! You may want to read up on a few management topics - there are millions of books and it can be daunting to figure out what is important, but you can literally start anywhere: for example, try this site http://management.about.com/od/careerdevelopment/tp/TopMgtBooks.htm as a place to begin your journey. Then explore areas you want to improve on as you try out your new management skills. Remember: no one is born a good manager - you have to work at it and learn from your mistakes.

2) Cultural Differences - Secondly, but more importantly, you MUST understand that different cultures approach things quite differently and a behaviour in one culture that reflects respect could be quite insulting to a person from a different culture. Something that is considered smart in one culture, you might think is completely idiotic. So, make no assumptions about people - don't assume they are 'lazy' or 'stupid' or 'mean'. The way they express themselves may be more straightforward (do not assume 'rude'); they may be more respectful, passive and responsive to management (do not assume 'incompetent'), etc. You did not mention what country you will be going to, or if your team will be made up of international workers versus local workers. In any case, again, do some research on cross-cultural competency/diversity/management. You won't regret it and your team will be more effective if you know what motivates them.

Again, many places for great resources, but a place to start might something like this: http://books.google.com/books?id=-3czAAAACAAJ&dq=lionel+laroche+don+rutherford&lr;. or http://books.google.com/books?id=rY1xBO4R8HcC. Lionel Laroche and Craig Storti really understand cross-cultural issues and clearly put in a simple, useful and relatable manner.

Getting an international gig is a GREAT opportunity to broaden your horizons, make new friends and build your career. Make the most of it by embracing new things, being open-minded and willing to take risks!

I wish you the best of luck,
Sherry Yuan Hunter




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