http://clarksonalliance.com https://clarksonalliance.com Project, Cost and Information Management Thu, 12 Mar 2020 14:08:56 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 Does flexible working help or hinder productivity? https://clarksonalliance.com/leadership/does-flexible-working-help-or-hinder-productivity/ Wed, 11 Mar 2020 16:16:36 +0000 http://clarksonalliance.com/?p=8053 My business has cloud-based systems in place that measure project profitability. Staff are accountable for the work they do.

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My business is not a well-known brand name so, in order to attract really good talent, we offer flexible working. Our staff want to work hard, but they also want to have some balance in their lives. I employ 12 full time staff, but there are days when there are only two or three people in the office. Our office is a meeting place – our staff work from home or are on site with clients. Because they don’t need to be at our Oxford office everyday, they can live much further away, so I can access a greater pool of talent. My staff are highly qualified and experienced people, even though the business is still very much an SME (small or medium enterprise).

My business has cloud-based systems in place that measure project profitability and so, if someone isn’t delivering, it will soon be picked up. Staff are accountable for the work they do. We also meet with clients to ensure they are happy with the work being done. The company also has a fortnightly conference call to exchange ideas and support one another. However, I might only see some of my staff once a quarter.

Some businesses create working environments where staff burn out. But if you do not provide autonomy to your employees, you end up with a different set of behaviours and this will be reflected in the result. Employers should want to create businesses in which staff play to their strengths, want to work and, as a result, will want to deliver. My employees often do work beyond their contracted houses, but they do it because they want to, not because I ask them to.

Read the original article as well as the other side to the argument in RICS Modus Magazine

 

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Delivering success: how to stop fear disrupting your project https://clarksonalliance.com/project-management/delivering-success-how-to-stop-fear-disrupting-your-project/ Mon, 09 Mar 2020 13:59:32 +0000 http://clarksonalliance.com/?p=7986 If our status is threatened, we feel uncertain about our future, or are treated unfairly we may respond negatively.

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As humans our mammalian brain seeks to protect us from threats. It is a survival mechanism: if our status is threatened, we feel uncertain about our future, or are treated unfairly we may respond negatively or defensively.

In the workplace, a new leader starting can cause similar feelings of uncertainty and discomfort. The introduction of a Project Manager into an already formed team can cause individuals to feel threatened and consider their autonomy or status to be at risk.

This can signal trouble for the project outcomes before the project is even underway:

 

“People invariably (though unintentionally) focus on what is best for themselves. Fear is one reason individuals may redirect their focus and organise their energy around self-survival rather than around the objectives of an organisation.”

Brenda Hales, Leadership Coach and Consultant

At Clarkson Alliance, Brenda has helped us to understand how our brains work and – equipped with this understanding – consider ways to become better leaders, who create collaborative, kind environments. If you are looking for a practical way to develop strong interpersonal relationships the SAFETY methodology offers an accessible way to help you lead and work within a team:

  • Security – reassurance that there will be a clear plan of what needs to be done.
  • Autonomy – enables individuals to deliver results within a flexible framework.
  • Fairness – everyone knows they will be treated equally.
  • Esteem – recognition, in front of others, for individual’s contribution to the project.
  • Trust – a sense of belonging and being a valued part of the team.
  • Youindividual fulfilment is an important element.
Understanding individual motivations and responding accordingly helps to make people feel safe within the team, and to work more efficiently and enthusiastically. The behaviour of the leader can be key in developing an atmosphere where people feel rewarded rather than threatened. To quote Simon Sinek: “Leaders make you feel safe…When we feel safe inside an organisation we will naturally combine our talents and our strengths and work tirelessly to face the dangers outside and seize the opportunities.” (listen to his TED talk)

People are the biggest unknown on a project. Strong leadership is essential to breed collaboration, excitement and trust, motivating people to play their part. Whether you join a team at the outset of a project or part way through, it is important to be open minded about changing the way you behave towards the members of the team based on individual requirements. Projects are unique, and so are the people delivering them.

Learn more about how we deliver exceptional projects: www.clarksonalliance.com/exceptional-projects

 

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Why we should strive to build teams with diverse skills https://clarksonalliance.com/leadership/why-we-should-strive-to-build-teams-with-diverse-skills/ Fri, 06 Mar 2020 10:30:05 +0000 http://clarksonalliance.com/?p=8007 For International Women's Day 2020, we are sharing this blog written for the Women in Construction Summit

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Anna Etherington-Smith, our Head of Project Management, has shared some of her thoughts in advance of the Women in Construction Summit about the importance of building a diverse project team and and the value of allowing individuals to work to their strengths. Read on for an extract, or view the full article.

Projects are human endeavours, and what is more, every project and every project team is unique. The range of skills, both technical and behavioural, required to successfully deliver a construction project are extensive, and a good project leader should have an appreciation of the diverse set of skills needed when they are building their team, and an awareness of how different people operate. 

On joining the industry straight out of university, I quickly became accustomed to being in the minority as a woman. In the early stage of my career I tried to emulate the behaviours of other women around me – those who appeared to embrace the sometimes confrontational nature of the industry as a way to progress. I quickly learnt that this approach simply didn’t suit me, and I began to understand that it was important for me to be my authentic self in the workplace in order to thrive. Shouting the odds and trying to demand respect wasn’t for me.

Having now spent over 15 years working in construction – as a structural engineer, construction manager and now as Head of Project Management at Clarkson Alliance – I have worked on a range of projects and have seen the value in allowing individuals to work to their strengths. For example, one person may be good at detailed analysis but less good at communication – this individual may thrive when considering options and developing solutions but struggle in a large meeting environment or when asked to present to the wider team.

Read the full article 

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Delivering success: how to get the best from your teams https://clarksonalliance.com/project-management/delivering-success-how-to-get-the-best-from-your-teams/ Fri, 28 Feb 2020 12:15:57 +0000 http://clarksonalliance.com/?p=7916 Some practical advice on how to create, develop and maintain high performing teams and provide excellent leadership.

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We are proud of our approach to Project and Cost Management and the rigorous project delivery process that we follow. This is complemented by our collaborative approach to leadership, which allows and encourages people to work to their strengths

Below is some practical advice on how to create, develop and maintain high performing teams and provide excellent leadership:

  • Invest time in building relationships at the start of a project

Sometimes it is necessary to take half a step back before leaping into a project. This might seem time consuming, but time spent developing relationships and implementing good communication practices at the outset will lay strong foundations.

Consider running an introductory workshop or spend time before or after meetings learning about one another’s strengths and work preferences.

  • Unite your team around common goals

Our Project Managers work to establish customer outcomes at the start of the project and ensure the project team is aligned to them. This means that if risks on an unpredictable capital project are realised, everyone can focus on achieving the goal together.

We often do this by developing a Project Initiation Document at project kick-off and asking everyone to confirm agreement to the project outcomes.

  • Manage expectations and responsibilities

Successful teamwork happens when people know what is expected of them. Implementing a clear governance and reporting structure is vital and provides certainty.

We have first-hand experience of conducting collaborative planning sessions where we develop and agree a robust project plan and assign tasks.

  • Remember to celebrate success

When something goes well, it often means it has gone smoothly and relatively unnoticed. Remember to make a point of acknowledging these ‘smooth’ moments, as well as ensuring you mark important project milestones – they can be a great opportunity to build strong relationships with your customer and team.

  • Encourage people to work to their strengths

We believe that people work most effectively when they can work to their strengths. We ensure that team members are appropriately qualified, and that their efforts are properly directed based on their strengths.

Using an assessment tool such as the StrengthsFinder online questionnaire has helped us understand more about people’s areas of potential and what motivates them.

  • Be a leader not a manager

We use our leadership experience to create a collaborative environment where everyone feels valued. This includes galvanising enthusiasm; giving credit for effort and achievement; providing individuals with status and autonomy; engendering a culture of trust and fairness.

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Upgraded leisure centres in Swansea open to the public https://clarksonalliance.com/lei/upgraded-leisure-centres-in-swansea-open-to-the-public/ Mon, 17 Feb 2020 10:06:59 +0000 http://clarksonalliance.com/?p=7907 We are working with Swansea Council and Freedom Leisure to deliver £5.1m of improvement works

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Clarkson Alliance have been working with Freedom Leisure and Swansea Council on improvements to leisure centres across the region. In total £5.1m is being invested in upgrading the leisure facilities. 

On Wednesday 12 February members of the project team, local council and customers, came together to celebrate the launch of these remodelled facilities to the public at Penyrheol Leisure Centre.

We have provided Project, Cost and Design Management services, as part of our ongoing partnership with Freedom Leisure. The works at Penyrheol include: refurbished fitness facility with new TechnoGym equipment; new fitness studio; new functional training space including an indoor track; redeveloped pool changing rooms and new community space in reception.

Our sister company Leisure Energy is also carrying out energy saving works across the sites in Swansea to improve efficiences and reduce the carbon footprint of the leisure centres.

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Top tips for ensuring you have happy customers https://clarksonalliance.com/collaboration/top-tips-for-ensuring-you-have-happy-customers/ Fri, 07 Feb 2020 16:52:31 +0000 http://clarksonalliance.com/?p=7893 We've shared some ideas and real-life activities to help you satisfy your customers and exceed their expectations.

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At Clarkson Alliance we care about success, about exceeding our customers’ expectations and providing an excellent service that gives them confidence. We’ve studied workplace methodologies, worked with psychologists to better understand what makes people tick and invested in becoming better leaders, teammates and project managers. Studying the theory is great, and we’ve now spent years putting it into practice. 

We’ve shared five tips to ensure you have happy customers – plus the real-life activities going on in the Clarkson Alliance office every day of the week to ensure we are delivering. 

  • Your customer’s priorities are your priorities

Help your customer to define their vision at the outset and then help them stick to it. Revisit and review the agreed outcomes vs the project’s position on a regular basis. On every project we use our rigorous Gateway Process which – aligned to RIBA stages – enables us to do just that. Providing confidence in this way is invaluable.

  • Every project is unique

Every project is unique – a unique set of circumstances, risks, and probably people. What worked on one project might not work on the next – even if they have similarities.

We share learning across all our projects on our Company Improvement Register which is updated monthly. That way, we benefit from our experiences, whilst recognising the same solutions might not work twice. Whenever possible we ensure our customers contribute to and learn from our lessons learnt workshop.

  • Communication is key

We meet with all our customers every six months to review our progress in relation to agreed project outcomes and identify opportunities for improvement. In 2019, we received an average customer satisfaction score of 85%.

  • Never assume technical knowledge

We work with a wide range of customers: some are experienced in delivering capital developments for their organisations, while others will be working on a one-off project and may have a strong reliance on their project and cost managers. We tailor our communications on a project by project basis, once we understand their unique needs.

  • Invest time building your team

We believe that people are at the heart of projects. A strong team, united around the customer’s vision, is key to delivering a successful project. We commit time to building our project teams and developing relationships at the outset, building a culture of disclosure, openness and clarity.

In our next blog post we will share our advice on building a high performing team – with more practical tips for putting the ideas into action. 

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Congratulations to Jason on his APC success https://clarksonalliance.com/project-management/congratulations-to-jason-on-his-apc-success/ Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:56:49 +0000 http://clarksonalliance.com/?p=7742 Jason Crozier, Project Manager, has successfully completed his RICS Assessment of Professional Competence.

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Congratulations to Jason Crozier, Project Manager at Clarkson Alliance, who passed his APC last week – very well deserved! 

Jason joined Clarkson Alliance in 2015 and completed his placement year with us during his degree in Construction Project Management at Oxford Brookes. He went on to achieve a first class degree with an award-winning dissertation on the Energy Performance Gap. 

Jason is currently delivering a number of projects including the £33m Braywick Leisure Centre in Maidenhead. 

About Jason 

 

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Opening of the Caledonian Clock Tower, Islington https://clarksonalliance.com/heritage/opening-of-the-caledonian-clock-tower-islington/ Mon, 01 Jul 2019 16:00:21 +0000 http://clarksonalliance.com/?p=7763 The 164-year-old clock tower officially opened its doors with a day of animation, exhibitions and tower tours.

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On 4 June 2019, the Caledonian Clock Tower was officially reopened after extensive renovation. Clarkson Alliance provided Project Management services on the restoration project which received almost £2m from the Heritage Lottery Fund in addition to council investment.

The 164-year-old clock tower officially opened its doors with a day of animation, art, theatre, exercise, exhibitions, tower tours and food and drink. A new learning and community centre, the Cally Clock Tower Centre, with a café, public toilets and dedicated volunteer room, also welcomed its first visitors.

The project was delivered by Head of Project Management Anna Etherington-Smith with support from Project Manager Jason Crozier and Senior Cost Manager Katherine Ahara. We developed a strong relationship with the Green Spaces and Heritage teams at Islington Council, receiving praise for our excellent communication, commitment to delivering a quality product and always pursuing the best interests of our client.

Project details

Photos from the day

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The key to creating high performing teams https://clarksonalliance.com/project-management/the-key-to-creating-high-performing-teams/ Thu, 27 Jun 2019 14:12:49 +0000 http://clarksonalliance.com/?p=7730 Anna was a speaker at Women in Construction 2019, and talked about how to get the best from your project team.

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Anna, Head of Project Management at Clarkson Alliance, was a speaker at the Women in Construction Summit in May. Some thoughts from her presentation are shared here: 

When people enjoy what they do they perform better. Productivity and creativity is higher and more is achieved. Only 15% of people are engaged at work, according to a 2017 Gallup Worldwide Poll.

If just 15% of people are engaged at work, the chances of everyone on your project teams falling into this category are slim (statistically speaking). Once you can add the backdrop of construction’s challenging reputation for project delivery, it isn’t a stretch to see that improving employee engagement will positively influence the performance of the project team and improve results for clients.

At Clarkson Alliance we have spent years understanding how to motivate and lead teams to deliver more consistently. The recurring theme in our research is that creating an environment of mutual trust and support gets the best out of individuals because they feel respected and valued.  They’re not afraid to bring ideas to the table for fear of disagreement; they problem solve together and settle conflict better.

Think back to a project that went well and the relationships between the different parties. The chances are it was primarily amicable and respectful.

Radecki & Hull, who studied the performance and productivity at Google, call this Psychological Safety. They looked at the cognitive patterns of high-performing teams in the organisation and identified that when individuals are triggered into a stressed state, decision making, thinking and creativity are hindered.  

Construction projects can often be high stakes and pressurised, so it stands to reason that by having an emphasis on a more congenial environment, the project team will perform better and the results will be more consistent for clients.

Just 12% of the industry are women. Females reportedly have higher levels of empathy than men, according to a Cambridge study in 2018. So, there is reason to believe they could adapt well to creating work conditions that are considerate of how individuals are motivated.  

This is an even greater reason to get more women into leadership in construction.  

When I started my career in 2004, there weren’t many women at all and in fact only one woman for me to look up to. By increasing diversity, we can also help to change the image of the industry through a leadership style that values the people on the project who ultimately achieve the project outcomes.  

But it’s not just about women, it’s about how we can all focus on getting the best out of everyone in the team by contributing to an open and supportive project environment which creates better results as a consequence. It’s time we put people first if we want repeatable results. 

A longer version of this article was first shared on the Women in Construction website in June 2019.

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Multi-million pound project to improve leisure in Swansea https://clarksonalliance.com/lei/multi-million-pound-project-to-improve-leisure-in-swansea/ Thu, 20 Jun 2019 10:06:16 +0000 http://clarksonalliance.com/?p=7619 Work has started on a multi-million pound project to revamp some of Swansea's most high-profile leisure facilities.

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Work has started on a multi-million pound project to revamp some of Swansea’s most high-profile leisure facilities.

£5.1m is being invested by Swansea Council to bring new life and vitality to the LC Swansea and the city’s five community leisure centres.

The partnership approach will see a further £600,000 invested by Freedom Leisure, the not-for-profit leisure trust that runs the facilities for the council.

The overhaul and works programme, which will benefit tens of thousands of customers, is being managed by experienced project management business Clarkson Alliance.

Energy efficiency measures are being installed by Leisure Energy, an award-winning company dedicated to helping the leisure industry reduce costs and environmental impact.

Investments will include a full upgrade of gym facilities at the LC Swansea with the creation of a new functional training zone. In the autumn there will be a modern re-working of the food and drink offering.

The centres benefiting along with the city centre LC Swansea are those at Bishopston, Morriston, Cefn Hengoed, Penlan and Penyrheol. The improvements are being complemented by the introduction of high-spec Technogym equipment within renewed and refurbished fitness suites across the facilities.  

Read the full press release on the Swansea Council website >>

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