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What Construction Project Managers Should Know about Change Management

A conference talk on the challenges faced by project managers of the 21st century lists several factors experienced across industries: scope management, information technology, team dynamics, customers’ satisfaction, lean management, communication, innovation, and quality.


The construction industry in particular is prone to change. Part of this is due to the nature of its workforce. For example, an article for the Human Resource Management Journal describes the construction industry as “reliant on a transient workforce and exist[ing] within a complex multidisciplinary team-oriented environment.” This workforce is continually challenged with some experts suggesting a dynamic approach to analyzing impacts of skilled labor shortages.

As you would imagine, multiple studies have been conducted in how change management principles may be useful in construction projects (e.g., see: conference talk for the 25th International Conference on Information Technology, International Journal of Project Management article, etc.).


Materials pricing in the industry is finally starting to stabilize; however, they remain high (higher than pre-pandemic levels). The labor shortages the industry face are part of a larger story of an aging workforce – hence why newer, tech-forward roles that can attract a younger generation of workers are increasingly important.

The job of a construction project manager is ever critical to meet the needs of complicated projects with continually constrained resources. Change management is one concept in these managers’ toolkit that can help them confront the constantly shifting construction landscape.


What Is Change Management?

Change management, defined by the Harvard Business School Online, is a term that “refers broadly to the actions a business takes to change or adjust a significant component of its organization” including company culture, internal processes, underlying technology infrastructure, corporate hierarchy, or other critical aspects.

Change, they explain, can be adaptive (e.g., small, gradual, iterative changes to evolve a business’s product lines, processes, workflows, and strategies over time) or transformational (e.g., larger scale/scope changes that signify dramatic and “occasionally sudden, departure from the status quo,” such as launching a new business division, expanding internationally, etc.).

To put this into context of construction, an adaptive change might be a sudden change order (i.e., a documented re-define of scope, budget, or timeline of a previously agreed upon construction job). A transformational change, meanwhile, may be a change in management structure or a company buyout.


Change management are the processes and guiding principles that help organizations (particularly, the employees that make up them) respond dynamically to change.

Construction project managers, coordinating teams of cross-functional workers onsite in a “multifaceted, dynamic industry,” need an equally dynamic approach to change management.


Here are some of the factors construction project managers may consider keeping top of mind:



One change management concept construction project managers should know is ADKAR, a change management model and acronym developed by Prosci® founder Jeff Hiatt after extensive study of patterns at more than 700 organizations.


ADKAR is an acronym for:

  • Awareness – Of the need for change
  • Desire – To participate and support the change
  • Knowledge – On how to change
  • Ability – To implement desired skills & behaviors
  • Reinforcement – To sustain the change


Prosci® recommends a 3-step process for implementing ADKAR within an organization:

  • Step # 1: Prepare approach – in this phase, practitioners (e.g., construction project managers) establish what they’re trying to achieve (e.g., better project outcomes) by defining impact (i.e., how the change affects individuals) and approach (i.e., the steps needed to achieve project success and mitigate risk – such as defining clearer project milestones and maintaining open lines of communication/collaboration)
  • Step # 2: Manage change – in this phase, the change management strategy is brought to life through three stages:
    • 1) Plan and act (i.e., preparing, equipping, and supporting those impacted by change – e.g., creating project management plans)
    • 2) Track performance (i.e., the phase in which change management efforts are tracked through implementation and practitioners identify performance strengths and opportunities – e.g., how effective is a project management tool in increasing project visibility, to what extend does it increase collaboration between team members?
    • 3) Adapt actions (i.e., based on what practitioners have learned, they spend time adjusting the change management strategies – e.g., considering the observed efficacy of the implemented project management tool, what tweaks should be made to ensure continuous improvement?
  • Step # 3: Sustain outcomes – in this final phase, the practitioner establishes the approach needed to ensure change is sustained organizationally for the long-term. Outcomes include:
    • Review performance – reflecting on performance, confirming desired results, and reviewing and documenting lessons learned (e.g., project postmortems)
    • Activate sustainment – focusing on implementing actions to sustain change outcomes, engaging in activities to identify gaps and activate sustainment roles
    • Transfer ownership – establishing how to carry sustainment efforts forward with activities including the transfer of knowledge and assets (e.g., sharing lessons learned with and recommendation to business owners)


ADKAR is a powerful change management model and tool worthy of consideration within construction projects to sustain meaningful change organizationally with how companies approach future projects.


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Structural Flexibility and Antifragility

Prosci® recommends implementing change management at both the project- and organizational-level (i.e., project managers should be fierce and empathetic advocates for both the individualistic people-side of change as well as possessing “a leadership competency for enabling change within [an] organization and a strategic capability designed to increase […] change capability and responsiveness”).

In other words, change management should be implemented from top to bottom.


Another, related managerial concept is antifragility, a business model first coined by financial scholar Nassim Nicholas Taleb. The concept makes reference to Greek mythology and the creature known as Hydra who possesses nine heads and is depicted to possess immortality and the power of linear regeneration – growing three heads in the place of two from each stump when decapitated. This linear progression shows the Hydra, when attacked by an adversary intent on defeating it, becoming stronger through the adversity.


As a construction project manager, building structural flexibility and antifragility into your project framework such that team members are empowered to respond dynamically to change can make teams stronger in spite of any adversity they may encounter:

  • Do teams have the authority to employ creative workarounds (e.g., find new supplier, 3D printing, prefab) or work with customers to avoid excessive changes in design that explode project scopes (e.g., suggesting alternative, recyclable materials; cheaper, more readily available alternatives; negotiating on delivery fees; etc.)
  • Do teams have the authority to reject change orders (if too far out-of-scope)?
  • Do teams have the authority to strategically plan (e.g., purchasing safety stock on critical materials from wholesalers)
  • Do teams have the tools they need cross-functionally to be successful (we discuss this in the next section)


Embracing Technology for Dynamic Change Management

Technology should be no stranger to construction project managers. It is the enabler to productivity among teams even where resources are limited. It is the facilitator that allows the transfer of knowledge between cross-functional teams, breakdown of information silos, and builds antifragility into your workflow structures.


Digital solutions that exist to empower construction teams include (but are not limited) to:

  • Project Management: Tools like Procore®, Autodesk® Construction Cloud™, Buildertrend, e-Builder®, and Fieldwire by Hilti® help project managers coordinate work, delegate tasks, track progress performance, and document disputes and excessive change orders. Facilitating cloud-based project management enables real-time collaboration similar to how cloud-based collaboration tools like Office365 or Google Workspace enable real-time collaboration among office workers and university students.
  • Building Information Modeling: Building information modeling enables digital representation of building projects that facilitates collaboration between designers, architects, engineers, construction managers, and customers in real-time, allowing companies to find and mitigate risk, and reduce potential issues in design that would otherwise lead to change orders and overruns.
  • Inventory Management: Cloud-based inventory apps can help construction teams manage materials as well as equipment needed onsite to perform work, as well as cut down on hording across a multi-jobsite infrastructure.
  • Embrace Integration: In addition to the tools above, it’s critical to embrace technology integration – creating pathways for data sharing between project management, design, and in-field execution teams ensures real-time communication, prevention of duplicate (sometimes outdated) project data, and meaningful collaboration that mitigates risks.


Certifications for Construction Project Managers

Finally, aspiring construction project managers should consider certification programs that can (in addition to demonstrating competency to potential employers aiding in career advancement) provide practitioners with the necessary knowledge and skills to apply effective management techniques to the planning, design, and construction of projects that controls time, cost, and quality.


Possible certifications of note include:

  • The Construction Management Association of America’s Certified Construction Manager Certificate
  • The Project Management Institute’s Construction Professional in Built Environment Projects (PMI-CP)™ certificate
  • The Project Management Institute’s Agile certifications can also provide practitioners the knowhow to apply relevant agile/scrum principles to construction technology implementation
  • Certifications in Lean Management offered through the Lean Construction Institute and Associated General Contractors of America to apply lean management principles, reduce waste from projects, and improve quality assurance


For Construction Pros also recommends six other worthy contenders for certifications for construction career development.


Bottom Line

The construction industry, more so than other industries, is defined by change. As the industry faces continuous operational challenges, it’s ever critical that construction project managers have the tools to manage their projects dynamically—change management chief among them can help them empower and empathize with their cross-functional stakeholders and building partners, equipped to grow, evolve, and become stronger through stressors they’re constantly confronted by.


Revitalizing Remote Teams Across Generations

Over the past couple of years, the skill of engaging remote teams composed of different generations has become critical for companies and teams to avoid the “Great Resignation” that has led to decreased team engagement. This article introduces various methods to highlight the similarities and minimize the differences across the generations.


Today’s workforce is composed of four different generations, and consequently managers are tasked with motivating teams despite the contrasting wants and needs throughout the age groups. Remote work offers many perks that people love, however one noticeable drawback is the lack of team culture which can easily lead to staff feeling isolated and disconnected. Company culture is imperative to overall job satisfaction and when company culture is poor, companies are quick to see employees quit. So, the question is, how does management equally motivate baby boomers who tend to prefer face to face communication and formal communications, while simultaneously satisfying Gen X employees who tend to prefer email and less formal communication styles?


For reference of the generations:

Baby Boomers: (1946-1964)

Generation X: (1965 – 1980)

Millennials: (1981 -1996)

Generation Z: (1997 – 2012)


Any successful leader or project manager needs to understand, implement, and compromise to appeal to the team’s communications preferences and recognition styles. This can be done by highlighting the similarities and minimizing the differences. However, this tends to force management to get a bit more creative when figuring out how to engage their teams in the remote space.


Highlight the Similarities:

  • People Crave Connection: A lot of the workforce can agree that moving to remote can feel more transactional. A study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) called Lonely at Work, highlighted that eight out of ten employees feel lonely in the workplace. A few tactics to improve this would be hosting healthy lifestyle challenges, virtual happy hours, online trivia, personality tests, etc.


  • Create a Mentor Program: The perfect opportunity to get the different generations working together is creating a mentorship program. According to the Cigna 360 Global Well Being Survey 2022, young employees of Generation Z are the most likely to be worried about the lack of job opportunities available to them. Mentorship programs are mutually beneficial as they provide the ability for employees to engage and develop close relationships with people in a different age group. The also provide the opportunity for mentees to learn more about different positions throughout the company and aid in boosting confidence in the workplace.


  • Provide Transparency on Organizational Structure: Nobody wants to be lost on where they stand within a team and/or company. For instance, baby boomers are known for preferring hierarchy, while millennials are associated with valuing clear opportunities for growth all while Generation X is associated with craving transparency. These shared values can be satisfied by posting and maintaining the organizational chart on a shared internal platform. To take this further, it is conducive for all parties when leadership provides clear written guidance on requirements to be promoted to the next level.


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Minimize the Differences:

  • Awareness of Team Preferences: Know how your team likes to be communicated and implement ways that meet each need. This can best be achieved by having the team complete surveys on tools such as Microsoft Forms or SurveyMonkey. Due to employees potentially being reluctant to share their true communication preferences with leadership, it is best to have the surveys set up with providing their name as optional vs. required when completing the survey.


  • Foster a Culture of Flexibility: Focus on what you have the power to make more flexible. Once employees have proven trustworthy and capable, there are benefits in letting employees pick projects, create their own project plans, etc. Encouraging employees to have the autonomy and creativity to know when and what is required tends to boost employee confidence and buy-in on the overarching team and company values.


  • Keep Customer as the Priority: When the customer is the priority there is less time for the team to have internal debates and more time for the team to focus on the mutual goal of a satisfied customer.


  • Communicate in Multiple Channels: People’s attention span and preferred communication methods differ; so to appeal to the variances, it is valuable to share the same messages through several mediums such as emails, meetings, articles, etc. For instance, employee A may have a hard time focusing in virtual meetings, while employee B tends to skim longer emails. This method may be harder for the project manager but is mutually beneficial by ensuring the team receives messages in the way that most resonates with them and leaves no excuses for missed information within the team.



Remote and hybrid teams are here to stay, so it is important for today’s managers and leadership to create ways to revitalize their multi-generational teams. One method managers and company leadership can build cohesive multigenerational teams is by highlighting the similarities and minimizing the differences. Similarities can be highlighted by providing opportunities for connection, creating mentor programs, and providing organizational transparency.

Differences can be minimized by boosting communication, incorporating flexibility, and keeping the customer as priority. The best interconnected teams have the awareness and structure set in place to play off each other’s strengths and weaknesses, so when these four generations create bonds, it can lead to today’s teams being stronger than ever.



Exhausted by Work – The Employer Opportunity. (n.d.).
Gurchiek, K. (2016, May 9). What Motivates Your Workers? It Depends on Their Generation. SHRM.
‌Gurchiek, S. M. and K. (2023, February 25). Lonely at Work. SHRM.
Kaplan, J. (n.d.). Welcome to Generation Quit. Business Insider.

Burnout: What It Is and How to Avoid It

Burnout impacts personal, project, and organizational performance. Therefor it is important for project managers, performers, and executives to understand what it is and how to manage and avoid it.


What Burnout Is

Burnout is “a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”[1]


On a personal level, chronic stress and overwork leads to relationship problems, illness, a lack of motivation, disengagement, low energy, and suboptimal performance. Personal well-being impacts project performance and organizational health. When performers are suffering from burnout symptoms, they are less productive, more prone to leaving, less creative, withdrawn, more likely to become frustrated and angry and to engage in unnecessary and poorly managed conflict.


Burnout is not just being tired and needing a vacation. Studies have defined it more precisely, provided measurements, and have identified factors that contribute to it. The Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) was developed by Christina Maslach in 1981 to evaluate and measure burnout. In her 2016 study[2] she makes it clear that, as with all aspects of wellness there are degrees of symptoms on a continuum.



Research identified three interrelated symptoms – exhaustion, disengagement, and reduced effectiveness.

  • Exhaustion is loss of energy and fatigue. It occurs when there is too much stress caused by unhealthy performance demands (chronic overwork). It can be a short-term experience following an intensive physical, emotional, or mental activity. Short-term exhaustion can be treated by moderating performance demands and taking rest and recovery time. If it goes untreated and becomes chronic, burnout follows.
  • Disengagement is affected by a sense of not being cared for by leadership and of the futility of the work. People lose a psychological connection to their work. Involvement and enthusiasm suffer. Performers, whether executives, managers, or staff, just put in their time instead of being actively engaged in their work. self-worth suffers. They become cynical and either engage in unnecessary conflict or withdraw to avoid engaging in meaningful debates.
  • Reduced effectiveness is tied to both exhaustion and lack of engagement. With tiredness, less involvement and enthusiasm, performers become less productive and less effective. That results in greater stress as performance goals become more difficult to achieve. Greater stress feeds exhaustion and lack of engagement.



Symptoms have causes. Identifying the causes helps us find the most effective treatment.

Burnout is the result of poorly managed chronic workplace stress. Workplace stress is inevitable, not enough stress and performance suffers, overstress and performance suffers. Managing workplace stress is maintaining the dynamic balance among personal non-workplace stress, individual psychologies, the pressure of workplace and cultural performance expectations, and physical and mental effort.

Address poorly managed workplace stress by exploring its causes.


  • Ignorance and not caring are the main culprits. Ignoring, denying, or underestimating the impact of overwork and chronic stress enables burnout to sneak up on you. Unlike a broken bone that results from a specific incident, it emerges overtime as exhaustion, disengagement, and reduced effectiveness interact. Without mindfulness and self-awareness, one becomes burned out without realizing that it is happening.
  • Workaholism and fear of failure are compulsions to work excessively hard and for overly long hours. This feeds the tendency to underestimate the effects of overwork as well as the stress that comes with not being able to achieve personal and organizational goals. The compulsion to work overtaxes the mind and body. It is emotional stress multiplying physical stress.
  • High-intensity workplaces. Some organization cultures reward workaholism while stoking the fear of getting fired or not getting ahead. Imagine the impact of an attitude that sees performers, including project and functional managers, as being easily replaced. Like slaves on an ancient galley, when an oarsman is burned out, they are tossed overboard and replaced.


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Some professional service and consulting firms bring in waves of highly motivated and capable associates and put them in a position where they must choose to devote themselves to work to get ahead or be gone. Those who manage their stress well can succeed, some realize they do not want to pay the cost for success, others keep at it and burn out.

  • Management issues. Some managers do not recognize that there are differences in people’s capacity for demanding work and stress. They may drive performance and create unnecessary stress on performers who are valuable contributors but cannot live up to unrealistic expectations. Setting irrational objectives and not providing necessary resources is a management issue that causes unnecessary stress.
  • Stress management skills are used to avoid burnout and improve performance when under stress. These skills work to relax, recover, and direct effort. They support the self-awareness needed to avoid burn out.


Project Work

Beware, project performance is the kind of work that can easily lead to burnout. Projects often have tight deadlines and budgets along with expectations for quality performance. If these are not managed well, project managers and performers become stressed. If they move from high intensity project to high-intensity project without a break, burnout is inevitable.



Awareness of the nature and impact of burnout is the principal means for avoiding and treating it. There are two treatment dimensions, personal and organizational.

  • Personal – Everyone, regardless of their role, has the responsibility to manage their wellness. Cultivate the mindful self-awareness that gives you the ability to recognize when you are getting tired, losing your enthusiasm, and becoming less effective and efficient. Recognize it before it becomes overwhelming. Act.

Take a break or a vacation, ask for help, get some physical exercise, learn and use stress management techniques to make yourself more responsive, resilient and better able to thrive in the midst of stress. Assess your reasons for being stressed to the point of burnout. Is your stress self-imposed or driven by your work situation?

What can you do about it? Cultivate mindful self-awareness to enable you to look within and cut through whatever is driving you to overachieve. Push back to negotiate rational and reasonable demands and work schedules. Consider leaving a toxic environment.

  • Organizational – Leadership is responsible for creating an environment that supports organizational success. Success is accomplished, at least in part, by promoting individual wellness. That means to regularly assess attitudes, set reasonable demands and methods to avoid burnout. Wellness programs such as mindfulness meditation, stress management techniques, and opportunities for physical exercise and ‘being heard’ are great. They are most effective when they are integrated in a business process that promotes rational expectations and practical work-life balance and includes awareness of the impact of burnout on the business.


Find Dynamic Balance

Avoid burnout by managing your own stress and then use your influence to help your team find the right balance by assessing both individual and organizational goals and needs.


[1] How To Measure Burnout Across A Global Organisation,the%20University%20of%20California%2C%20Berkeley
[2] Latent burnout profiles: A new approach to understanding the burnout experience

Questions to Ask in the Project Management Interview

I have worked in Project Management for over a decade and in a variety of different organizations. While most organizations value the PMP ® Certification, as is evident in the many jobs descriptions where this is a “Preferred Qualification”, not all organizations prescribe to the PMBOK guidelines/framework.

In some organizations, due to extremely aggressive timelines, the project may already be in progress and the charter (which defines the scope) and or budget have not been finalized. There are also scenarios where scope creep occurs frequently due to the lack of ability to say no to the customer and project management insight into the level of effort that is received, but not considered in determining the timeline once a customer or senior leadership has a certain deadline in mind.

Project Management is a discipline and if you are like me, you were drawn to Project Management because of the process, order, and structure it provides. There is no better feeling than adding Project Management structure and organization to help an organization reach its goals. However, it can be disheartening when the skills you have acquired and honed to be a Project Management Professional are not valued. Even worse, it can lead to burnout.

I want to help mitigate the risk (see what I did there) of your joining an organization, department, or group that does not value the project management discipline and help you identify a role/organization that does.

Here are some questions to ask during the project management interview so you can determine whether a role within that organization will be a fit for you.


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Questions and Insights


1.       Do you have a centralized PMO?

If the organization has dedicated resources to building a Project Management Office, then there will be some standard practices and processes in place to promote organization, standardization, governance, and guidance for all projects. They should also provide access to deliverable and report templates. Feel free to ask more questions about the PMO so you can understand how you will be supported by the organization during your employment.


2.       How are projects approved?

There needs to be a formal approval process for projects, so the Project Manager is not inundated with too many projects. Whether you are using Agile or Waterfall methodology, managing projects takes thought and planning.


3.       What is the change management process?

Issues with changes typically arise more with Waterfall projects because with Agile projects, only certain amounts of features can be added within a sprint. If you are in a Waterfall environment and internal or external customers are frequently asking for more, there needs to be a formal process in place to assess the change requested and the impact on the project to determine if it can be completed. This way your team members aren’t overworked, or your timeline is not derailed by additional requests.


4.       What authority do Project Managers have in this organization?

Project managers are problem solvers, strategists, communicators, and much more. In some organizations, the role is more focused on administrative tasks such as scheduling meetings, taking notes, and creating status reports. While that is a component of project management, that is not the entirety of the role. Asking about the authority the Project Managers have within the organization can help you identify whether their expectations of the role and yours are aligned.


5.      How do you support your Project Manager when they have difficult clients?

Having formal processes in place to manage the project can help with difficult clients. However, there are times when the Project Manager may need support in enforcing those processes. Asking this question can help you determine whether your perspective manager will give in to client requests or if they will support you in enforcing processes and procedures.


Keep these questions in mind during your next interview. The Project Management role in the right organization can be extremely rewarding and fulfilling. Now you have more tools to get you to the right fit.

Best of PMTimes: The Five Goals of a Project Manager

As a project manager, you need to manage people, money, suppliers, equipment—the list is never ending. The trick is to be focused. Set yourself five personal goals to achieve. If you can meet these simple goals for each project, then you will achieve total success.

These goals are generic to all industries and all types of projects. Regardless of your level of experience in project management, set these five goals for every project you manage.


Goal 1: To Finish on Time

This is the oldest but trickiest goal in the book. It’s the most difficult because the requirements often change during the project and the schedule was probably optimistic in the first place.

To succeed, you need to manage your scope very carefully. Implement a change control process so that any changes to the scope are properly managed.

Always keep your plan up to date, recording actual vs. planned progress. Identify any deviations from plan and fix them quickly.


Goal 2: To Finish Under Budget

To make sure that your project costs don’t spiral, you need to set a project budget at the start to compare against. Include in this budget, all the types of project costs that will accrue, whether they are to do with people, equipment, suppliers or materials. Then work out how much each task in your plan is going to cost to complete and track any deviations from this plan.

Make sure that if you over-spend on some tasks, that you under-spend on others. In this way, you can control your spend and deliver under budget.


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Goal 3: To Meet the Requirements

The goal here is to meet the requirements that were set for the project at the start. Whether the requirements were to install a new IT system, build a bridge or implement new processes, your project needs to produce solutions which meet these requirements 100%.

The trick here is to make sure that you have a detailed enough set of requirements at the beginning. If they are ambiguous in any way, then what was initially seen as a small piece of work could become huge, taking up valuable time and resources to complete.


Goal 4: To Keep Customers Happy

You could finish your project on time, under budget and have met 100% of the requirements—but still have unhappy customers. This is usually because their expectations have changed since the project started and have not been properly managed.

To ensure that your project sponsor, customer and other stakeholders are happy at the end of your project, you need to manage their expectations carefully. Make sure you always keep them properly informed of progress. “Keep it real” by giving them a crystal clear view of progress to date. Let them voice their concerns or ideas regularly. Tell them upfront when you can’t deliver on time, or when a change needs to be made. Openness and honesty are always the best tools for setting customer expectations.


Goal 5: To Ensure a Happy Team

If you can do all of this with a happy team, then you’ll be more than willing to do it all again for the next project. And that’s how your staff will feel also. Staff satisfaction is critical to your project’s success.

So keep your team happy by rewarding and recognizing them for their successes. Assign them work that complements their strengths and conduct team building exercises to boost morale. With a happy motivated team, you can achieve anything!

And there you have it. The five goals you need to set yourself for every project.

Of course, you should always work smart to achieve these goals more easily.


Published on May 12, 2010.