What Makes a Team Successful?

What Makes a Team Successful?

Lessons learned after three years of The Bridge Group

As we celebrate our third anniversary here at The Bridge Group (three years!), and start a new year, I’ve been reflecting on the successes we’ve had as a firm. 

I went into construction project management because I love the dynamic challenges the field presents. No two projects are alike, and I enjoy getting to know my clients and their needs and then creating and executing specific project plans to deliver the space they require. In recent years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with clients on a variety of technology facilities and research labs. I’ve been inspired by how these people and projects are primed to change the world, and it’s exciting to play a small role in their success story.

The Bridge Group’s success story

My success story has been shaped by others, too. The company has grown faster than I ever imagined, and I give all the credit to my team. Each and every one of my employees has contributed to the firm’s growth in pivotal ways, whether by tapping into their personal networks to grow our client list, by advising me on ways to help the company succeed, or by tactical execution of project management.

I am grateful to all of my employees for pouring their hearts and souls into helping me build The Bridge Group, but I feel especially indebted to my first employee Stephanie Hamilton. Stephanie took a chance on me three years ago when I had nothing to offer except the promise of a supportive and hardworking boss who wanted to build a collaborative team and great company. Thanks again, Stephanie! Your support has meant the world to me.

Lessons learned after three years of The Bridge Group

Mentors make the difference

I’ve been really fortunate to work with some amazing people in the industry, from architects and engineers to general contractors and dynamic clients, who have helped me learn some of my most important lessons. In particular, I’d like to acknowledge Ed Smith who agreed to let me help him at the beginning of my career and introduced me to the industry. I’d also like to acknowledge Jurgen Decker at Facebook who has been a mentor to me over the years and continues to be. It takes time and courage to give honest feedback and his interest in my development has made me the project manager I am today. 

If you want to break into the industry, here’s my advice: seek out great mentors. You’ll strike gold in finding someone to help guide you in your journey. I’ve found people in the industry to be generous with their time and experience, and eager to give back to the next generation. Sometimes all you have to do is ask. 

Harness the power of your team

 

Our team has since doubled its size for our 3rd year anniversary. Some new faces here with half of our staff missing.

Above all else, The Bridge Group’s success is about people: The endlessly hardworking employees I’m grateful to employ, the trusting clients who work with us, and the project partners and vendors we collaborate with. I’ve found that overcoming challenges lies in our ability to engage the project team to find solutions. This includes everyone from the client to the design team to the sub-contractors. The success of a project is about harnessing the power of a team, and the ability to navigate tough conversations with care.

Invest in your people

Hire people who truly care. If you can attract and hire people who are driven by a desire to help, you’ll build a team of supportive, diligent people eager to support their colleagues. Do your best to support them as well. As a business owner, I find that if I can support my people, whether by enabling work-life balance or helping to solve problems they’re having on their projects, they’ll return the favor 110%. 

Let your motivations guide you

I am a problem solver by nature. I’m energized by finding creative solutions to help people solve their problems. Oftentimes my work is a small but vital piece of the puzzle, but it feels good to help bring a client’s ideal space to fruition and support them in their on-going success story. Seeing our clients’ faces on their first day in their new facility brings me great satisfaction and makes all the hard work well worth it.

Say thanks

Make your appreciation known. Success is a team sport, and acknowledging those who make your successes possible will bring you far. 

Thank you to all the clients we’ve worked with over these three years. You’ve helped The Bridge Group family push past our own limits to become the team of project managers we are today. We’ve had a busy three years and attribute our continued success to the clients and partners who provide us with on-going work, project referrals, and of course, the hardworking team members who make up The Bridge Group’s family. Here’s to continued success for all for the new decade!

 

 

 


Foster Healthy Project Teams with Crucial Conversations

Foster Healthy Project Teams with Crucial Conversations

How to approach difficult conversations for greatest impact

I recently had the opportunity to attend an off-site training with Aleen Bayard to discuss the importance of crucial conversations at work. Aleen covered the importance of having these challenging conversations and the best ways to approach them. Inspired by her candor and grace, I want to consider these principles against the backdrop of construction project management.

Having a crucial conversation can be the difference between a successful project completion with a communicative team and an all-out project disaster. Be it a tenant buildout or transition to an open office layout these vital discussions add clarity, encourage accountability, and keep projects on schedule.

But they’re often challenging to approach in the workplace. And while we improve the formal systems governing project management over the past decades, communication remains the Achilles heel of many project management teams. Yet addressing issues in a timely fashion enables projects to move along more smoothly and ensures everyone feels heard.

What are crucial conversations?

Crucial conversations are the issues we’d prefer to avoid addressing in the workplace. They are the conversations we most need to have but are least willing to broach. We fear the inevitable tension of an uncomfortable situation, especially at work. This discourages us from diving deep into these issues, but with the right approach, it’s possible to speak candidly about awkward situations.

Sometimes these conversations include:

  • Conflicting opinions
  • Circumstances where the outcome is uncertain
  • Situations where you have to hold people accountable

Common causes for crucial conversations

  • Fact-free planning
    Projects that are set up with no consideration of reasonable budgets or timelines. With unrealistic project planning, it’s impossible to usher the final project through completion on-budget and on-time. Unrealistic deadlines, budgets, and project scope will surely necessitate a crucial conversation.
  • Absent sponsors
    Leaders who don’t supply the guidance, leadership, time, or energy needed to see a project through to completion. In construction project management, this is often a client who doesn’t take the time needed to provide the details necessary for successful project completion.
  • Skirting
    Individuals who work around priority setting. Team members who do their own thing without understanding how their actions affect the other team members and overall project progress.
  • The project chicken
    Team members who don’t speak up when they notice a problem. Rather than voicing their concerns proactively, the project chicken waits for other colleagues to notice and broach the subject.

Approaching Crucial Conversations

While often uncomfortable, crucial conversations must be had. Effective leaders recognize that a difficult conversation will prevent the otherwise inevitable domino-effect of issues down the line. Bring issues to light privately but discuss it with the team when necessary. Ask for personal buy-in to encourage accountability. As leaders in the workplace, it’s our responsibility to have the skills, knowledge, and confidence to do so both on projects and off.

  • Share your facts
    Be prepared with your talking points ahead of the conversation. Remove emotion from the equation by clearly stating the history of what you see as the problem.
  • Seek to understand
    Use questions to understand where the person is coming from. Ask questions like “Do you have too much going on?” “Are there ways I could better support you?,” and “What do you need to be successful?” Use a multiple-choice opener to get the conversations flowing. Be earnest in your questions to make the other person feel comfortable in giving their answers.
  • Talk tentatively
    Be solution-oriented in your approach to these conversations. Speak to the person with kindness and respect. Share a conversation, don’t talk at them.
  • Encourage testing
    Frame your solution as a question to tease out a conversation. Say, “here’s what I think (of a solution), what are your thoughts?”
  • Permission slip
    Confidence is key when having crucial conversations whether with direct reports, peers, or senior leaders. Because you respect your colleagues and know they strive to do their best, you have permission to approach these conversations. With direct reports, think of the conversation as illuminating blind spots and accelerating development. With peers, you drive accountability and demonstrate respect. With senior leaders, frame these conversations as providing feedback.

Having crucial conversations leads to better outcomes. When leaders resolve conflicts faster and more efficiently, you foster improved relationships with vendors and the team, and you accelerate improved employee performance and engagement. Ask questions and listen, state your thinking, be prepared to compromise, and be solution-oriented.

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Thank you to Aleen Bayard for her illuminating approach to crucial conversations. This blog post was created in conjunction with the valuable information Aleen provided on the topic.