Continued from Project Management Case History – A Career Reflection (Part 1), Project Management Case History – A Career Reflection (Part 2) and Project Management Case History – A Career Reflection (Part 3)
So, to sum it up, what have I learned since I began my career in the early 1970’s?
- The importance of creating a team atmosphere cannot be overstated.
- All partners and managers need to be pulling in the same direction.
- That direction needs to be clearly communicated to the staff.
- The staff needs to feel that the firm is concerned about their well-being and professional growth. They need the opportunity to learn all aspects of a firm, no matter what their specific assignments are. As a member of the staff passes a portion of the architectural exam or achieves a significant skill, it should be celebrated within the firm. We provide gift certificates for such events, which are presented in an all-staff meeting. It shows that the firm cares about professional growth, and encourages others to keep growing.
- Staff needs to be guided in a direction where they can feel that their work is important, but under a nurturing, watchful eye.
- Not every project or responsibility may be exciting, but it is important is that the staff recognize that their efforts are contributing to the overall success of a project. This effort needs to be publically celebrated within the firm.
- All managers need to keep their egos in check. I strongly believe that it is more effective to work shoulder-to-shoulder with, and not pontificate to, your staff. As managers, we should have attained enough self-confidence over the years, and have progressed enough in our profession, that we don’t need to make others feel less important by building ourselves up at their expense. You can be self-effacing, making yourself a part of the team, while still retaining control and respect.
- As firm leaders, continue to extend your boundaries in terms of education and future trends. An example might be the development of a Green and Sustainable policy. We formed the DLA Green Team, comprised of members of the staff that had achieved LEED AP (Accredited Professional) credentials. Partners or managers not LEED AP are not a part of the Team. To reward those who made the effort to become LEED AP, each was presented with a DLA Green Team shirt. The most important part of the education process is to have all staff, managers, and partners report on their experience and what was learned. This provides public speaking opportunities, educates the staff on what was learned, provides peer acceptance for a job well done, and encourages people to pursue additional learning.
- In a firm where each manager is responsible for a particular aspect of the firm, all should have general knowledge, and be able to back each other up. All members of the firm, managers and staff alike, must continually put forth their best effort. Each partner or manager should know they can depend upon the others and encourage staff commitment.
- Partners and managers must continually reassess how their efforts fit into our firm’s branding, mission and personality.
- Planning is critical. It is important to understand what our goals are, how we are going to achieve them and how we will manage the process.
- Always think about how the final resolution to a problem or issue will be interpreted by those who will be affected. You may find that changes to your decisions are necessary to accomplish goals. Concede the battle if you can win the war!
Through a career of great and not-so-great experiences, the following summarizes my philosophy and commitment as an architect/project manager/leader:
- Know when to let go.
- Be grateful for the efforts of others.
- Attack each project with a passion. Enthusiasm is contagious.
- A successful leader possesses skills including: focus, passion, drive, honesty, respect, collaboration, trust and integrity. These are the formation of a solid foundation.
- Don’t think too highly of yourself. Think highly of your team. When all is said and done, you should be proud of your team’s commitment (led by you).
- The most inspiring and relevant description of commitment I have ever heard was from Mia Hamm, the former U.S. Women’s Soccer Team star. She said,
“You always want to end on a high note, but I want to end knowing that I gave everything I had, and hopefully that the game was better because I was a part of it.”
AMEN to that!