No matter the industry, managing a team means dealing with a range of personalities, priorities, and viewpoints. Balancing the needs of different involved parties, such as company owners, architects, designers, bankers, and community members, is essential to efficiently completing a job.
As a former construction manager for military, state, and private projects, I know the value of interdisciplinary teams and have helped develop the M.S. in Construction Management at Philadelphia University to equip students with the tools required of successful 21st-century collaborators.
Here are four steps every manager needs to take to incorporate collaboration into their company’s culture.
1. UPDATE YOUR COMPANY’S CULTURE
Make it your company’s mission to incorporate collaboration as a central value. A collaborative focus within a company of any size can immediately and drastically improve relationships, reception, and overall success. Top construction management programs will teach other modern competencies that can be brought into the company as well.
2. HIRE INTERNS
Teaching up-and-coming professionals helps keep your company fresh, sparks new ideas, and encourages you to think out-of-the-box while explaining an old concept to a fresh mind. Another perk is getting the first glimpse into young talent, while helping guide the next generation of professionals.
3. FOSTER MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAMS
Encouraging multidisciplinary interaction within a company is great practice for client interaction and will help improve communications throughout the company. Plus, this forward-thinking business structure will attract top talent with the highest leadership potential.
4. HAVE REGULAR COMPANY-WIDE COLLABORATIVE EVENTS
It may seem difficult to commit to additional meetings when you are already very busy, but cross-disciplinary meetings can help optimize functionality. Keep the meetings short and sweet, so everyone has a chance to check in, raise important points, stay informed, and most importantly, contribute.
Managing expectations of each stakeholder in a construction project of any size can be tricky, and success in these matters usually becomes refined over years of practice. However, studying construction management in a program emphasizing collaboration will expedite these lessons and hone students’ skills.
Practical programs offer guidance from the field’s top leaders, and can be a great way to “test run” and perfect important skills before taking a trial-and-error approach in your own company. Programs that emphasize collaboration as a central value will offer the most, as multidisciplinary understanding and cooperation is becoming steadily more important as projects get bigger and more complicated on ever-shorter timelines.
Completing a master’s level program can take as little as one year. If going back to school doesn’t fit your trajectory, consider sponsoring promising employees to further their education and to bring fresh knowledge into the workplace. If you are hiring new people, consider collaborative experience essential.
Today, there are progressive programs that incorporate real-world projects and experiences into the curriculum, making students ready to contribute upon graduation. For example, at Philadelphia University, our M.S. in Construction Management students complete a capstone design studio working on a real project at a real company alongside fellow students from various disciplines. This immersion allows students to practice applying essential competencies, such as estimating and scheduling, cost control and risk management—all while receiving guidance and input from all members of the construction equation.
While it may seem daunting to transform company practices and values, or bring management standards into the future, the investment will definitely be worthwhile. Collaboration within a company enriches employees working experiences, and encourages corporate attitudes of empathy and foresight—all of which maximizes a company’s return on investment while minimizing risks. Having a team member with collaborative experience is indispensable. Even one person’s insight can influence greater team cooperation. When there is a greater empathy, many disagreements and issues internally and externally can be avoided, helping keep projects running smoothly and on-schedule, while building the best possible reputation among various stakeholders.
ABOUT PHILADELPHIA UNIVERSITY
Philadelphia University, founded in 1884, is a private university with 3,600 students enrolled in more than 70 undergraduate and graduate programs. As the model for professional university education, the University prepares students to be leaders in their professions in an active, collaborative, and real-world learning environment infused with the liberal arts. For more information, go to www.philau.edu. ■
About The Author:
Greg Lucado, M.S., is a director for the Construction Management Programs and an associate professor with Philadelphia University. Lucado came to Philadelphia University following a successful career in the construction industry, which included management positions with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, The Virginia Department of Transportation, and private sector positions in institutional facilities management, design, and engineering, and several general contracting firms in the Philadelphia area. He can be reached at.
Modern Contractor Solutions, February 2015
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