By Neal Flesner
When it comes to World Class™ construction partnering, it’s important to focus on strategic culture change versus tactical or process change.
Changing Behaviors Versus Changing Culture
There is a huge difference between just tweaking individual behaviors and truly changing a problem project team’s culture to one of a winning team that sustains success.
For example, a project team might decide to improve their communication by implementing the practice of no e-mails or letters except to confirm a verbal conversation unless they are communicating facts or data. This is a communication tactic we encourage during our partnering sessions and have found that project teams who have implemented this protocol significantly improve communication and problem solving.
Still, only implementing the “no emails” practice, will not create a fundamental shift in the project team’s mindset any more than simply implementing a hard-hat enforcement practice will produce a true project-wide safety culture.
“How do you know if you’ve changed the safety culture on a project? When you not only see results, but when everyone on the project owns the safety effort. It is not being done to them; rather, it is an integral part of the way they do their work every day.”
A Project Safety Metaphor
Safety processes and practices such as site-specific safety plans, hard hats, safety glasses, fall protection and safety walks can make a jobsite safe. There are plenty of books, videos and seminars on project safety. But most of us know that just providing craftspeople with information on safety practices does not create a culture of safety on a jobsite—nor can management exhort or force it. This behavior, as most of us know, creates short-term compliance at best.
How do you know if you’ve changed the safety culture on a project? When you not only see results, but when everyone on the project owns the safety effort. It is not being done to them; rather, it is an integral part of the way they do their work every day.
The same can be said of having a World Class project versus a problem one. Change a team’s behaviors and then reinforce and recognize those behaviors and the team behaves and acts as a World Class team.
Implementing Culture Change
When best practices in partnering are implemented comprehensively with a project reset around compelling team goals, these practices will create ownership of these steps, shifting the culture of your project team. The comprehensive turnaround requires more effort and commitment but will yield greater satisfaction and rewards.
Yet, we’ve found that even with additional work required, implementing collaborative culture change is a positive effort in which individuals on project teams often willingly and passionately engage. Winning is never easy, but rather is challenging, satisfying and rewarding.