Does Your Company Culture Embrace Change?

Companies that do share these four attributes.

Slowly but surely, the construction industry is changing, and companies that don’t embrace change will, later or sooner, be left behind.

Contractors are realizing they must evolve to compete. Whether it’s embracing new operational approaches (like Lean), delivery methods (like IPD) or technology (drones, BIM, construction management software, etc.), contractors are making changes to drive productivity to the next level.

But these changes work only in companies with a culture that supports adoption of new tools. So how do you create a culture in which managers and employees are ready to embrace change? Here are four things companies that have such a culture share.

Clear values and goals

Companies adopt new technologies and new processes for a reason — because they are a means to a desired end. Defining that end, and sharing it across all levels of the company and all job functions, sets up a business for embracing change and drawing an effective roadmap to success.

As Ryan Price, Engagement Manager for Construction, McKinsey & Company, noted in a recent webinar, new technology rollouts depend on having a clear vision for what this technology can do to meet your company goals.

“Establish the link between business strategy, technology deployment and the value at stake. Ask yourself a few questions: Do you know what you are trying to accomplish? What is it worth to you in the return on investment?”

If part of your mission is to deliver exceptional client satisfaction, how will the change you’re considering drive that goal forward? For example, if you’re looking to jump on the BIM bandwagon, the value might be communicated in terms of clash reduction among trades or improved schedule management, both of which can lead to exceeding client expectations.

Effective communication

Employees get on board with a change when they understand why it’s important to the company — and what’s in it for them.

Tannis Liviniuk, CEO of Pull Plan, encourages contractors to build awareness around coming changes. “People need to understand the ‘why,’” she said in the same webinar. When managers can outline exactly how a shift to IPD, for example, will benefit workers personally — less last-minute overtime, more input at the beginning of the project, greater profit-sharing at the end, perhaps — those employees are more likely to give the new approach their all. Better still: When the end user understands how the change helps them, they champion the cause among coworkers and clients.

A commitment to training

New technologies and processes require adequate training. Throwing employees into the deep end is no way to ensure success. You can’t truly commit to Lean methods, for example, or expect your engineers to start using BIM, if you don’t commit to ongoing training that supports the change in manageable increments. Without training, your employees will soon revert back to their comfort zone.

Traditional mentoring programs, as well as reverse mentoring programs that invite newer workers who are already familiar with a new technology to help train other workers who aren’t, can be part of that training.

RELATED: Making BIM Training More Effective

Tracking and communicating progress

Adopting new a process or tool because it’s the latest trend is not how you drive success. Then again, you can’t manage new initiatives if you’re not measuring progress. (You’ve heard the saying: If it’s not measured it’s not managed.) When implementing something new, set success metrics (which may change over time) and timelines for meeting milestones. Track your progress, and share it with everyone so they see the fruits of their labor.

“Adapt or die” hasn’t been as true in construction as in other industries, but with advent of BIM, drones, virtual reality, 3-D printing, automated equipment and other technology poised to shape the future of construction, that’s changing. Creating a culture that embraces change creates a win-win for the company and for up-and-coming employees anxious to learn new skills.

 

Megan Headley has been writing about every aspect of the built environment since 2004. As owner of ClearStory Publications, LLC, Megan demonstrates her passion for helping contractors create more productive and safer job sites, and more sustainable and successful projects.