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The work environment we experience today in the construction industry has changed significantly over the past ten years and will undoubtedly continue to evolve. In many ways, the pandemic sparked a significant change in how people view their work-life balance and are seeking opportunities that allow them to take advantage of this shift.

Demand for talent is at an all-time high, and many job seekers can be more selective about their employers, especially around things like culture fit. This culture fit translates to project teams, too; teamwork and collaboration between the owner, designers, construction management team and subcontractors is a key factor to the success of a project.

The construction industry's backbone relies on bringing many diversified skills and nuanced personalities together under one roof. This creates a potential for miscommunication and a lack of cohesion between the various members of the construction team: A group that could be together for 12 or more months at a time. In its most basic form, success can be measured in many ways, but the common areas are safety, quality, schedule and budgets. In the same regard, cohesion and relationships between internal and external team members is another benchmark to consider and can often be the biggest driver of the outcomes for the more traditional measures of success.

To create a thriving team culture, a few key factors can make a significant difference.

The Foundation

In addition to the importance of ensuring that all work is executed safely, a clean and organized site sets the tone and culture of the project and shows your commitment and belief in the project as a leader. Sending that message to your internal team and all subcontractors throughout a project is essential in building and maintaining trust and respect amongst all parties.

As a leader or co-leader of a large group, it is essential to establish and communicate collective goals from the start. Ensuring that each group knows what benchmarks they are responsible for meeting and when helps keep both internal and external teams on track. It is also important to have metrics in place so you know where you are succeeding and/or where you need to improve, as well as a way to share these results with everyone involved. Doing so allows you to acknowledge and reward success and openly recognize challenges and potential setbacks as a group as well as hold everyone accountable for their commitments.

Conflict will happen and it is one of the most universal issues that a leader is responsible for resolving. Creating an open line of communication between team members and the project leaders will help create a clear path to resolution. From the onset of a project, it is helpful to clearly distinguish who the decision makers are so that it is clear to everyone who has the authority to make decisions on the job site. Once problems arise, they can be resolved quickly and efficiently without taking time away from other tasks.

The Execution

In my opinion, leading by example is the most important and influential way to create a good team culture. For instance, if you expect others to show up on time, attend meetings and provide timely updates as needed, you should be committed to doing the same. Mutual respect is mandatory. This is not something that always existed in the construction industry, but that image is evolving for the better: Respect must be present at all levels and roles.

Along the same lines, your integrity will set you apart. Adhering to the contracts agreed upon at the start of a project is essential in building trust. Everything from consistently treating everyone fairly and issuing a change order when needed, to providing prompt payment are some of the most basic ways you can create a healthy team culture as a leader. At the end of the day, you need to do what you say you are going to do.

The Bottom line

Creating a positive culture on the job site and throughout your company will help you retain and attract top talent. A culture where people feel supported and empowered to lead and actively works to support people’s individual growth and advancement will likely drive success. It will also help put you in a position to complete projects safely, on time, on budget and in a way that all team members will want to work together again. Here are the three most essential elements to remember: your job is to ensure your crew’s physical safety, set the standard for mutual respect and lead by example in all areas.

In closing, for some, good team culture is an environment where everyone will thrive and be motivated to do well, both professionally and personally. A healthy culture will result in team members that look forward to working together again in the future, the hallmark of good relationship building. In today’s extremely competitive labor market, good experiences can make the difference.


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