Anything overly “transactional” can be a steady path to insanity. There’s something of value in remembering the personal elements of construction management—from several angles. One, the day to day is less daunting; but additionally, your relationships will benefit you to a greater extent. What does this mean for a CM looking to excel? Contrary to the brash process of serving as a bidding factory, it’s time to pick up the phone and treat people as people.
With an industry so closely tied to profits and crunching numbers, it seems frivolous to harp on psychological matters, but personal attention to clients and staff has hard evidence ties to improving bottom line by addressing productivity issues.
Construction Business Owner Magazine highlights that, “Managing the human elements can influence the outcome of a construction project just as much as having the proper technique or state-of-the-art materials. Construction projects vary in size and scope, but they all share common issues.”
One of my favorite books, Start with Why by Simon Sinek uses the example of the importance of trust in the case of a circus trapeze artist. Without a net, the performer will only execute the moves that are the safest and that they are most comfortable with. If they have a net, they will trust that they can take bolder, more venturesome maneuvers because they have confidence in their support system.
The same goes with a construction manager representing a project owner. With confidence in the management of the CM/GC and their good judgment in favor of the owner, the construction project will see it’s highest success. This can take the form of a GC speaking frankly to an owner in regards to budget/their proposal or excluding one-sided language from a contract to get the relationship in a mutual frame of mind. This raw honesty and focus on suggesting steps toward their best interest can establish a strong confidence and open conversation forming a relationship beyond strictly numbers—focusing on long-term value.
Alan Haughey of CBO Magazine also emphasizes that, “Contractors should include the building owner or representative in face-to-face planning meetings with the construction team. A significant amount of time usually passes between signing a contract and actually starting construction. During this time, a genuine sense of teamwork and camaraderie can develop if it is nurtured. Conduct round-table meetings to minimize any confrontational feelings.”
With all the obstacles presented in a construction project (no matter how prepared a CM is), all parties must work together to work against these unpresented interruptions. Cohesive objectives across all pieces of the puzzle (architects, the customer, contractors, and subcontractors, etc.) will reduce risk, further disruptions, and costs. With shared goals and a focus on people, a project is a team effort with the potential to form lasting bonds. If viewed as solely a transaction and merely ‘another one on the bid schedule,’ the chances of deep-rooted trust are pretty sparse.