Bradley Hartmann is El Presidente of Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a Spanish language training firm focused exclusively on the construcción industry. Hartmann has been successful improving Safety, Productivity and Profitability by speaking Spanish on the jobsite. Hartmann lived in Guadalajara, México during his undergraduate studies and later earned his MBA. Hartmann also teaches Construction Spanish at Purdue University’s Building Construction Management Program. He has authored 2 books - Spanish Twins: Start Speaking Spanish on the Construction Site with Words You Already Know and Safety Spanish: Simple Spanish Skills for Solving Safety Problems. Hartmann would love to hear your thoughts digitally at firstname.lastname@example.org or verbally at 630.234.7321.
Yesterday we revisited the information-gathering tactics of The Master of the Senate - Lyndon B. Johnson.
But when it comes to the most memorable method to gather info, you may recall the exploits of another master tactician - one Gordon Gekko.
Gekko, the classic antagonist in Wall Street asked his protege Bud Fox a leading question to which we should all answer Yes!
“The most valuable commodity I know of is information. Wouldn’t you agree?”
On the jobsite, you need not snoop around office filing cabinets at midnight, Mini Maglite clenched between your teeth. You can just talk to people.
If you take an interest in the activities of your tradesmen and request their feedback, you’ll get it.
But what about the English-Spanish language barrier?
A full 30-50% of workers on our jobsites are Hispanic. The overwhelming majority of these workers prefer Spanish. This isn’t to say they don’t understand or speak English, they simply prefer Spanish.
Below are 2 communication tools for your language toolbox.
Use these daily to gather the most basic información from your Spanish-preferring tradesmen.
Are there problems?
On the most fundamental managerial level, we want to learn of any problems on our job. For example, asking this question during the hanging of drywall may reveal problems with bowed studs or mashed/missing insulation.
This información is easily acted upon now.
Afterwards… not so much.
To point out the obvious, problemas is a Spanish Twin meaning problems.
If your Spanish-speaking friend says No, great.
If he gives you some indication of a Sí answer…. Say this.
You’re not looking for a full-blown monologue of the problema, you just want to know where it is.
Dónde will lead you there.
Large, complicated problemas like the English-Spanish language barrier in the US don’t always require immensely nuanced, multi-layered solutions.
Keep it simple.
Let someone else waste time bantering about Immigration, a single national language and cultural integration requirements.
Master these 2 phrases and your life on the jobsite will get easier.
And unlike Gekko and Fox, you won’t get sent to the clink for obtaining this información.