Talk of labor shortages in the construction and A&E industries has been public over the last few years. Some say it is likely to continue in 2019 as companies continue to earn higher and higher revenues and maintain healthy and growing backlogs. Nevertheless, is there really a shortage or can a shift in existing personnel help balance the load?
Project managers are an integral part of any construction company or engineering firm as they plan, coordinate, and oversee a wide variety of projects from concept to completion—certainly an environment vulnerable to constant change and some hectic work days! But being too busy can lead to inefficiency causing low profit jobs, unhappy customers, late invoices, slow cash and low growth and missed opportunities. How can owners utilize their most important assets, their managers, and help them perform at the highest level?
Training employees to understand the business— starting with your firm’s culture to financial management to managing customer relationships, and not simply just the project they are working on—can mean the difference between inefficiency and loss to profitability for the company. Engaged employees are proven more effective employees who are able to do more with less.
Those PMs who are already overloaded are able to take on more with some important changes by upper management. Helping PMs perform their jobs more efficiently by providing more data can help them make timely decisions and get their projects completed faster—making your firm more profitable. Ensure PMs understand the reports they are getting by communicating with the accounting and IT departments as to the different project reports your system can generate.
Ask them for input on how to make their jobs more effective and the company more streamlined. Once you receive that feedback, set standard systems and processes for all employees (best practices) to follow so your employees do not have to create their own and waste time.
Also, give them a way to share in the success of the business by creating an incentive plan that works for your company
Hold your project managers accountable for results and share results with the entire team creating healthy internal competition to be the best. If done in a respectful, nonaggressive and rewarding style, accountability and competition keeps employees engaged and motivated to exceed expectations.
Providing a well thought out and communicated path and strategy on how employees can become a project manager keeps them engaged and motivated to keep striving for the next level. Accelerate the pace of development by having your “A” team work with the level below and bring them into their role in a shorter timeframe. Leverage the “A” team to do more at a higher level, which leads to more responsibility and satisfaction.
Staffing lower-level individuals who can assist your PM with tasks that may be considered administrative and more time consuming can also help productivity levels and ensure that their teams are working smarter—utilizing the PM’s skill sets where they matter most.
Environment is a crucial factor in maintaining talent. Employees that feel respected, invested in and supported are more apt to go the extra mile, put in extra time and effort and put their knowledge and talent back into your company. These small adjustments on the part of the decision makers go a long way towards battling the labor shortage issue and ensure their companies keep moving forward and meeting the demands of the industry.
For more information, contact Robert Brewer, Partner of Architecture and Engineering at Grassi & Co., at RBrewer@grassiadvisors.com.