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Tag: Change Management

Managing the Present Moment Even If You Don’t Like It

A project manager asked what she could do about not liking the present moment.  She was learning to do mindfulness meditation and was finding that when she was being mindful of the present moment, she found it stressful.

She was bombarded by problem after problem experiencing anxiety centered on the fear that her project was going to fail and that she would be fired.

The stress was getting to her. She was experiencing stomach pains and a torrent of thoughts about the impossibility of meeting her schedule commitments and what would happen if she failed. She ruminated about what she could have or should have done differently.

 

Being Present – Here Now

“I find it much more helpful to drop all our ideas, concepts, and beliefs and return again and again to the openness of not knowing and the immediacy and simplicity of this moment, this living presence Here-Now.”[1] Joan Tollifson

From Here-Now you can do whatever needs to be done, say whatever needs saying. The process is simple – note, accept, analyze, act, repeat.

 

Mindfully Present

I practice, write about[2], and teach techniques for being present, to live attuned to the experience of the present moment – mindfully self-aware. That is the objective of mindfulness meditation, breathing techniques, mindful movement, grounding, awareness of physical sensations, and all the other mental and emotional wellness techniques.

Being mindful is being present – fully engaged and aware of your body’s sensations, emotions, thoughts, the environment, and the others you share it with.

Being present fuels healthy relationships and helps to manage stress and anxiety. It is a foundation for emotional intelligence and is linked to the ability to be focused and able to choose the most effective course of action.

Being present is the opposite of being spaced out, distracted, reactive, and in denial. Focus and objective choice enhance productivity and creativity.

 

Accept and Let Go

So, what can you do when the experience of the present moment is unpleasant?

The answer is simple, though not easy – accept and let go into Flow.

To accept is to take note of the unpleasantness and your feelings about it, acknowledging the present moment for what it is. To let go into Flow means to see if you can do something to manage a change skillfully.

 

Common Sense Wisdom

If you know you don’t like the present moment and can ask what you can do about it, you are being mindful of your experience and conscious of the possibility of taking action.

Common sense wisdom lets you know that you cannot change the past or the present moment and that you can influence (but not control) the future. You can accept the feelings and the situation that has triggered them.

Alternatives to that are denial and suppression.

Denial is making yourself believe that the present feelings aren’t happening. It is sticking your head in the ground like the myth of an ostrich hiding from a predator.

Suppression is medicating or meditating yourself to relieve stress symptoms. This is a better tactic than denial. Relieving the symptoms can be healthy if it is a conscious choice used to be more effective at managing your emotions and making change.

 

Manage Your Emotions

Denying your feelings and the situation is the least skillful approach. It offers no way out of the situation. Your project is still going to be late and at some point, you will be confronted with reality.

Suppression is a way to moderate the effects of your stress. Medicating or meditating away the symptoms can be helpful if you do it as a conscious choice to put yourself in a better position to address the situation and avoid the damaging effects of stress, depression, and anger. Suppressing your feelings as a knee-jerk reaction is a form of denial that leads to habitual or addictive behavior.

Acceptance gives you a choice. You can choose to suppress the stress responses, or not. But most importantly you can choose practical options for handling the situation.

With mindful self-awareness, you can manage your emotions. That means you can fully experience your emotions without reacting or being driven by them.

 

Analyze

Then, analyze to see what about the present moment you dislike, why you dislike it, and what you can do about it.

Without analysis, you are reacting. With it, you are responding.

Analysis is using your intellect to break the issue down and objectively consider alternatives. It includes the assessment of your gut feeling, criteria, priorities, and facts.

 

Act – Do Something, Or Not

If it is feasible, do something to make a change. Remember that doing nothing is a choice, though it is usually not the best in the context of projects.

In any case, accept that you can influence the future, but you cannot control it. The outcome is uncertain, and you may not like it.

 

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Application – Manage the Project

Applying this process of noting, accepting, analyzing, and acting in the real world of projects is what skillful project managers do when faced with unpleasant situations. They apply the technical skills of planning and controlling.

For Julie, our project manager, schedule overrun began as small incremental slips on critical tasks. Then, about halfway into the project, a key team member left for a better opportunity. Replacing him took two weeks followed by a learning curve and the work of integrating a new team member.

After an initial bout of panic, Julie took a few breaths and observed her feelings. Stepping back, she took an objective stance and considered her options – let stakeholders know what was going on, work faster, rescope, accept that the project would be late, and take action to minimize the damage.

She realized that hiding from the reality of the situation is a no-win approach. She also assessed her fear of being fired and realized that if she was fired because of events beyond her control, it would be an indication that her superiors were not particularly skillful.

 

Bottomline

The message is that if you don’t like the present moment, accept what you can’t change, analyze the situation and your options, and take action to influence the future. And while you are doing that become comfortable with adversity and uncertainty.

 

[1] Tollifson, Joan, “Death, The End of Self-Improvement”
[2] Check out “The Peaceful Warrior’s Path: Optimal Wellness through Self-Aware Livinghttps://a.co/d/97LpYib . It addresses the mindset and techniques to cultivate sustained wellness by accepting and letting go into Flow.

 

Focus – A Critical Success Factor

The ability to focus is a critical success factor for project managers, business analysts, and anyone else who is in a task-oriented position.

On the project level, it is costly when resources divide their attention between multiple projects. Stop, start, and stop again performance has an overhead. The same is true for individuals. Without focus as a power of mind, you are like a straw in the wind, randomly blown here and there.

The more you can focus without being distracted, the more likely you are to succeed at whatever you intend to do – whether it is to pass a test, get a job, complete a project task, write a proposal, get the most out of a meeting, or paint a picture.

 

Distractions

To be focused means that you can stay with or come back to the “object” you have chosen to focus upon in the face of distractions. Life is full of enticing distractions. They may be thoughts, feelings, sounds, images, or other people’s behavior.

Pleasant or unpleasant distractions grab your attention. When you are taken away by a distraction you go on a trip, a mental journey. If your ability to focus is strong, you can skillfully choose to go on that trip or stay focused on what you are doing. Alternatively, you may be unable to choose.

 

Train of Thought

Imagine being on a train heading home. The train pulls into a station and there is another comfortable-looking train across the platform. You get off your train and jump onto the new one, and off you go. Then you realize that this train isn’t as comfortable as it looked. You get off at the next stop just in time to get on another enticing train. Off you go. Until you become attracted to another even cooler train and off you go again.

You may never get home. But, maybe, you don’t care because you like riding trains or are having fun and seeing new sites. Or you get on a train that takes you on an unhappy trip into a dark and dreary place and you can’t get off until it reaches its last stop.

That is how the mind works. A thought comes up, you keep it going by thinking about it, adding details, and thinking about what should have or could have happened. You make up stories about the future or dwell on the past.

 

What Happens at Work

Take a more project management-specific example. You are assigned to write an explanation for why your project is late. You start writing and your phone pings notifying you of a text message.

It’s from a friend and you read it. Then you respond and are off into a conversation. You realize ten minutes later that you have not been writing your explanation. You go back to it but must remind yourself of where you were when you popped out and then get back into a “groove”.

Any interruption during the performance of a task is costly. There is the effort of winding down and ramping up. The less winding down the higher the cost of ramping up. That is why multitasking is frowned upon.

 

Sustain Focus

If the ability to decide what you want to think about and do is important to you and you are willing to do what it takes to give yourself a choice, then you need a method.

You can reduce distractions by finding a quiet space free from interruptions. Shut the door if you have one. Ask others not to disturb you. Turn off the phone, or if you can’t because you are on call, do what you can to filter calls and alerts.

But, even in an ideal workplace, your body and mind are still there to disturb you with thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. Even the work you are doing can face you with opportunities to go down a rabbit hole. For example, you might dive into levels of detail when writing a summary or think about an interesting, but irrelevant concept suggested by some aspect of your task.

 

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Concentration and Effort

That is why cultivating concentration is so important. Concentration is the mental capacity to focus, to choose and stay with an object, overcoming the urge to follow distractions.

Concentrating to sustain focus requires resolve and effort. You must intend to maintain your attention on an object and make the effort to do it. Don’t expect it to be easy. You may be addicted to being distracted. It may be a deeply ingrained habit.

I am told that staying focused is even more difficult for those born into the age of the internet and social media than those who grew up without them. People have become addicted to short “hits” of attention-grabbing content and the immediate gratification of texts. Engineers and marketers have worked together to sustain this addiction to distractions and profit from it. They want you to get “hooked” on distractions.

Even though I was born way before the Internet Age, I can attest to how easy it is to get lost down a rabbit hole on Instagram, LinkedIn, or YouTube. One thing catches the eye and mind, and, after a few minutes, one thing leads to another and another. Before you know it, an hour has passed before something pulls you out of the rabbit hole.

It is hard to get unhooked – breaking habits is not easy.

 

How to Strengthen the Mind

To break the habits that keep you from focusing the way you want to focus, apply intention, effort, patience, mindfulness, and concentration.

Make the intention to apply the effort and patience required to cultivate the mindfulness that lets you know that you have been distracted and the concentration power to bring your attention to the chosen object.

Taking on meditation practice is a prescription for cultivating focus and choice. Go to https://self-awareliving.com/videos for videos on how to meditate. However, meditation is not a cure-all. People become discouraged when they start to meditate and are confronted with a “monkey mind”, the mind jumping from thought to thought. The meditation practice makes that quality more apparent. That is where persistent patience comes in. Keep observing the mind and coming back to a point of concentration and the monkey will be tamed.

Check out my book “The Peaceful Warrior’s Path: Optimal Wellness through Self-Aware Livinghttps://a.co/d/97LpYib for mindset and techniques to cultivate sustained focus and optimal performance.

 

5 Powerful Benefits of Capacity Planning in Professional Services Organizations

Finding it difficult to mitigate skill shortages in your professional service firms?

Are you constantly struggling with frequent hiring/firing cycles?

Is a pertinent mismatch of skills affecting most of your projects?

 

If yes, then it’s high time for your organization to create an efficient resource capacity planning framework. It is key to bridging these skill gaps proactively and ensuring the availability of best-fit consultants for the right projects at the right time. This also enables managers to utilize the professionals effectively and ensure successful project delivery.

This informative article explains how SAVIOM’s ERM tool helps in effective capacity planning in professional service organizations.

But first, let’s understand the consequences of poor capacity planning.

 

Consequences of poor capacity planning in Professional Service Firms

When professional service firms lack visibility into skill requirements for pipeline projects, they find it difficult to initiate proper resource procurement measures to meet the demands. As a result, it leads to last-minute firefighting and costly recruitment practices, impacting the firm’s financial performance.

Moreover, ineffective capacity planning can lead to the under/over-allocation of consultants to projects. This can result in poor deliverable quality, cause cost/schedule overruns, and affect customer retention.

Furthermore, when managers lack foresight into future skill needs and are unable to estimate the number of resources needed, it leads to unnecessary hiring. However, once the assignment is complete, these excess resources are no longer required, forcing PSOs to terminate them. It gives rise to frequent hiring/firing cycles, hampering the company’s reputation.

The lack of real-time visibility into the workforce’s schedules prevents managers from anticipating the release of resources from ongoing projects, leading to an increase in the bench size. Consequently, when these benched employees cannot be efficiently engaged, it triggers disengagement and unplanned attrition.

Given the adverse consequences of inadequate planning, the following section delineates effective strategies to proactively address these challenges.

 

How does effective capacity planning benefit professional services firms?

A proper capacity planning process is significant for service-based firms in multiple ways.

 

Let’s see how:

1. Provides foresight into pipeline consultancy projects

When consulting managers are unable to assess skill demands in advance, they resort to reactive resourcing measures. This results in an excess or shortage of consultants in the PSO. An effective capacity planning process helps managers gain foresight into the pipeline project demands and determine the skill gaps ahead of time.

They can then take appropriate decisions to bridge the gap. If there is a consultant shortage, managers can implement an out rotation and backfill strategy or initiate training programs. Further, they can go for planned hiring and create the right blend of permanent/contingent workforce. Contrarily, to address resource excess, they can bring forward project timelines, redistribute the extra capacity among other projects, or sell them at discounted charge-out rates.

 

2. Enhances billable utilization of consultants

PSOs frequently struggle to achieve optimal utilization rates for every professional, decreasing overall efficiency. When consultants are underutilized, it negatively impacts their motivation and commitment, consequently affecting their productivity. Conversely, overutilization leads to burnout and stress, compromising the service quality.

Efficient capacity planning enables managers to anticipate and manage consultants’ utilization. This allows them to implement various strategies, such as resource smoothing and leveling to ensure uniform workload distribution. Moreover, managers can mobilize the consultants from non-billable to revenue-generating work, enhancing their billability. It helps improve the overall productivity of consultants, resulting in increased profitability.

 

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3. Facilitates diversification of consultants’ skills

In today’s hyper-competitive business environment, PSOs heavily rely on their workforce’s expertise for continued success and expansion. Thus, maintaining a proficient and skilled pool of consultants is crucial. Moreover, fostering new skill sets becomes imperative when a company aims to explore new business domains to drive revenue growth.

A proper capacity planning framework provides detailed insights into the skill sets necessary for new service areas or projects. This enables managers to identify existing skill gaps and implement upskilling/training programs as per requirement. In addition, they can also initiate on-the-job training and shadowing opportunities to help consultants gain hands-on experience. This helps create a talent pool with diversified skills and expertise.

 

4. Helps in effective bench management

In a firm, projects usually experience sudden ramp-down activities once they reach the maintenance/closure stage. The lack of visibility into the resource ramp-down makes it challenging for managers to identify consultants who will land on the bench. As a result, it increases the bench size, which leads to escalated overhead costs and reduced billability.

An effective capacity planning process helps managers identify the resources that will be released in advance and assign them to suitable projects accordingly. In addition, the benched consultants whose skills partially match project vacancies can be given on-the-job training or shadowing opportunities. This way, organizations can effectively maintain the billability of benched resources and reduce the hiring/ firing cycles as well.

 

5. Ensures project delivery within time and budget

Inadequate capacity planning poses challenges for the delivery team in securing appropriately skilled personnel, potentially necessitating last-minute wrongful hiring. This leads to skill mismatches or the onboarding of costly consultants. Consequently, it can compromise the quality of deliverables and cause budget overruns, resulting in client dissatisfaction.

Effective capacity planning empowers the delivery department to evaluate the skills required for project deliverables ahead of time. This helps managers make proactive decisions, such as hiring or implementing training/development programs. Further, they can use the out-rotation and backfill strategy to ensure the availability of niche-skilled resources for the project initiation. This enhances the firm’s ability to deliver projects within designated timelines and budgets, increasing profitability.

Given the benefits of capacity planning, the next section explains how a resource management solution can come in handy.

 

How can modern resource management software help?

Saviom’s advanced resource management tool helps managers create an efficient capacity planning process for professional services firms and reap the benefits.

It facilitates 360-degree visibility of all resources and their attributes, such as skills, experience, capacity, availability, etc. This allows managers to find the best-suited resource with the right skills for the projects.

Further, the tool’s multidimensional forecasting capabilities and capacity-vs-demand report help foresee and fill skill gaps proactively through appropriate internal and external channels. It, thus, reduces the last-minute resourcing hassle.

Moreover, in a resource-constrained environment, managers can leverage modeling and simulation techniques. The what-if analysis functionality helps create and compare various scenarios by changing metrics such as availability, cost rate, etc. Therefore, it allows them to determine and implement the most feasible outcome on the actual plan.

 

Final Thoughts

Capacity planning is pivotal for managing the workforce within professional service firms. It serves the crucial purpose of detecting and reconciling disparities between workforce availability and demand, guaranteeing timely project deliveries within budgetary constraints.

For this, professional services firms can adopt an advanced resource management solution that will help them create a future-ready workforce, thereby ensuring profitability and sustainability.

 

 

6 Effective Ways to Mitigate Resource Risks in Project Management

Do you face challenges securing specialized skills for your projects in advance?

Is your organization experiencing frequent unplanned employee attrition?

Are you finding it hard to identify suitable candidates for critical positions?

If your answer is “yes” to the above questions, it’s high time to develop strategies to mitigate these resource-related risks. If not managed well, these resource risks can lead to project delays, compromised deliverable quality, budget overruns, reduced profitability, etc.

Thus, organizations should anticipate and address them to ensure successful project completion and delivery.

This article elucidates several techniques to prevent resource-related risks and how SAVIOM can help.

 

But first, let’s understand:

  1. Resource-related risks: definition & types

Resource risks are unexpected events that have the potential to adversely affect the project and the business in case of their occurrence. If not managed properly, it will affect the project scope, timeline, and budget, resulting in sudden halts or failure.

Some of them are:

  • Lack of skilled resources

In multifaceted projects, skilled resources are required to fulfill the project demand. However, these resources might sometimes be unavailable due to inaccurate forecasting of project requirements, resulting in last-minute firefighting.

  • Employee burnout

When managers lack visibility into resource schedules and availability, it can cause double bookings and overallocation. This results in stress, burnout, disengagement, and eventually unplanned attrition.

  • Absence of succession planning

When critical resources leave the organization, replacing them becomes difficult. The absence of a backup plan can widen the demand gap and suddenly stall the projects. Further, the unavailability of resources may overburden the existing employees with additional work, impacting the project’s progress.

  • Increase in bench size

Frequently, during projects, when substantial tasks are accomplished, there is a sudden ramp-down of resources, increasing the bench size. Furthermore, last-minute project cancellations due to budget constraints can increase the bench size, resulting in talent and financial loss.

Given the various resource-related risks, the following section elucidates the ways to combat them.

 

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  1. 6 Ways to Mitigate Resource-Related Risks in Project Management

Managers must be prepared with a few proven strategies to reduce resource-related risks, as follows.

2.1. Forsee project demand to identify resource shortage/ excess

When a pipeline project reaches a certain probability of approval, the project manager must estimate the resource requirements and raise the request accordingly. The resource manager can then evaluate the demand and examine the internal pool for availability to identify and mitigate any resource shortfall/excess.

For instance, they can implement upskilling, training, hiring, out-rotation/ backfill strategy, etc., to prevent resource shortage. Conversely, to avoid resource excess, they can bring forward the project timelines or sell the extra capacity. This will reduce unnecessary hiring/firing cycles and ensure the project’s timely initiation.

2.2. Hire the right mix of resources to prevent project delays

Based on the project’s requirements, managers should create a judicious mix of employees for successful project delivery. For instance, an accounting firm requires a data analyst to prepare a financial report. Managers should first leverage internal channels to identify and deploy the employee with analytics skills.

If this skill is unavailable, they can hire contingent employees if the requirement is one-off or short-term. However, they can hire permanent analysts if the demand is recurring or long-term. Thus, maintaining the right resource mix helps organizations fulfill project demand effectively, control overhead costs, and avoid delays.

2.3. Facilitate competent resource allocation to enhance productivity

Allocating less experienced employees to critical projects can lead to stress and burnout. Contrarily, assigning highly skilled resources to low-priority projects can cause disengagement and lower productivity. Therefore, managers should have clear visibility into resource attributes like skills, interests, experience, qualifications, etc., and allocate the best-fit employees to projects.

Deploying the right workforce to suitable projects will help managers maximize employees’ productivity. Further, it will ensure that projects are completed within the estimated timeline, enhancing the firm’s profitability and brand reputation.

2.4. Optimize resource utilization to eliminate employee burnout

Uneven workload distribution can cause resource under/overutilization, leading to low morale, disengagement, stress, burnout, etc. Therefore, managers must assess the availability and capacity of the employees before assigning them to tasks/ projects. Further, managers can track their utilization levels regularly to identify under/overloaded employees.

Accordingly, they can implement optimization techniques like resource leveling/ smoothing to optimize resource schedules. Further, managers can mobilize employees from non-billable to billable tasks periodically to maintain a healthy resource index.

2.5. Facilitate effective bench management & boost billability

An increased bench size can negatively impact the organization’s financial health and lead to revenue loss. Therefore, it is necessary to implement measures to reduce bench size and improve resource billability. For this, managers should foresee the resources being rolled off from projects and find suitable work to redeploy them before they hit the bench.

This ensures continuous billability of the resources and enhances revenue. Further, on-the-job training/shadowing opportunities can be implemented for benched employees with partial skill matches. It will enable them to become versatile and deployable across multifaceted projects, reducing their idle time and increasing productivity.

2.6. Create a backup strategy for succession planning

During the project execution phase, unexpected situations like a critical resource suddenly going on leave or quitting can affect the project delivery. For example, a product development project has reached the validation phase, and the lead analyst unexpectedly takes a long leave. This can potentially lead to a delay or standstill.

To mitigate these unplanned absenteeism or attrition risks, managers must identify potential talent for critical roles. They can then create a succession plan that provides appropriate training/upskilling measures to prepare the employees for key positions. It helps reduce the over-dependence on limited critical resources and boosts the organization’s ability to take up more multifaceted projects, enhancing revenue.

Now that effective ways to mitigate resource-related risks are clear, let’s understand how resource management software can help.

 

  1. How can advanced resource management software help?

Organizations must leverage advanced ERM tools like SAVIOM to manage and reduce resource-related risks effectively.

Here’s how:

  • The tool’s 360-degree visibility of resource attributes like skills, competencies, availability, etc., enables managers to allocate competent employees to projects.
  • The skills matrix allows firms to facilitate training and formulate a backup strategy for critical positions.
  • Forecasting and capacity planning help managers predict the pipeline project demand, identify resourcing gaps, and take remedial measures to bridge them.
  • The utilization reports and color-coded heatmaps enable managers to identify the over/underutilization of resources and take remedial measures to prevent burnout.
  • BI offers people-on-the-bench, and project vacancy reports to help organizations assign benched resources to billable/strategic projects.
  • The simulation technique allows managers to create and compare various scenarios in a resource-constraint environment and determine the best-fit plan.

 

  1. Final thoughts

Companies must manage their resources and effectively alleviate risks to keep projects on track. Implementing the techniques discussed in this article and futuristic resource management software will help organizations mitigate workforce risk, boost profitability, and successfully deliver projects.

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:

 

ADKAR

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.