Tighter margins are trimming remodeling staffs and pushing owners and production managers back into the field, often for the first time in years. As one such production manager, I can say that these common-sense practices have helped to balance productivity and peace on Mark IV Builders’ jobsites.

Coach, don’t dominate. Resist the temptation to sweep in and start issuing orders and calling out problems. As a part-time baseball coach, I’ve learned that you’ll instill more trust and spark more improvement by coaching respectfully. Never abrade publicly or talk down, period; if you think something should be done differently, meet with the employee privately on a break or the following day.

Respect the chain of command. If the job was the lead carpenter’s or project manager’s to direct, it still is. Crews might see you as “the boss” and come to you for direction. Deflect leadership back to where it begins, e.g., “That’s Jim’s job. You’ll need to talk to him.”

Many production managers and bosses are dominant types, including me. It’s too easy to walk onto a jobsite and say, “Do this and do that.” It’s more difficult — and more successful — to coach.

—Andy Hannan is production manager of Mark IV Builders, in Bethesda, Md.