The rapid development of the industries requires adequate changes on the part of the management models in the construction industry. Open international markets for goods and labor are generally changing the environment in which business is growing. In this regard, in addition to the traditional managerial qualities directly related to construction activities, more and more attention is being paid to personal ones. At the forefront in compiling and implementing the goals of management structures are balanced work between participants in the investment process, motivational forms to increase productivity, rapidly changing conjuncture, dynamic competition, complex organizational systems at the company level.
Attributes of construction management
The main attributes for achieving a successful business model can be grouped into three groups:
- ability to communicate between high level participants;
- clear vision of the current state of the company and the industry on the basis of which a good business plan is set
Correctness applies to all industries. In construction, it is the most sought after among the leaders in the process and is considered a major difficulty that needs to be addressed in the future.
Communication between the participants has always played a key role in the successful implementation of the project. In the presence of high competition, it is wrong to rely solely on the advertising business and communication technologies. Personal contact remains a key tool for building trust between the parties. Underestimation of this element leads to very negative consequences.
The last element is poorly represented in the scientific literature in construction. Despite its fundamentality, it is often overlooked in practice. The management staff of the companies has the ability to often focus and adapt to the needs of the specific client. Those who follow this principle have a better chance of long-term success.
The face of the building manager is changing and seems to lag slightly behind the dynamic environment in construction.
Its traditional qualities lose or diminish their significance at the expense of others. As part of the main problems that need to be addressed, the following can be mentioned:
- the last 50 years, worldwide, have seen the entry of new figures in the management of the construction process. Often their positions are opposing. For the successful completion of the project, the construction manager can resolve the situation through many techniques, such as: through direct confrontation, a balanced solution or as a mediator between the parties to the dispute. A good construction manager should circumvent the initial confrontation and guide the participants to a balanced solution. The need for good communication skills in this case is key.
- the focus of the activities performed by the construction manager is gradually shifting. In the past, his main responsibilities have been focused on short-term and long-term site planning and needs. Subsequently, the purely communicative qualities of the individual, his ability to deal with different in nature and interests investors, architects, engineers, financial and government institutions, etc. begin to take precedence. Linguistic, interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence are increasingly in demand, as the main qualities of project managers.
- the lack of collaboration between the business part and higher education institutions. Underestimation of opportunities on both sides, lack of trust between them, poor funding of universities, cumbersome education system, low starting salaries are part of the prerequisites for a lack of synchronicity between the training of future civil engineers and the required qualities in the labor market. Episodic attempts to overcome this barrier are not enough. A comprehensive and long-term concept needs to be created aimed at updating the curriculum and the methodologies for its teaching. The evaluation of this concept should be based on clear and measurable criteria.
Despite the highly changing situation in the construction industry, it should not be assumed that all the traditional qualities of management staff are obsolete and have no place in the modern look of the profession. Rather, it is appropriate to talk about a change of focus and the addition of future skills and competencies. Some of the necessary changes are related to:
- reducing the importance of a clear idea of the capabilities and appetites of competing companies in the industry;
- lack of opportunity for development of staff from the initial level to the highest positions in the company. The average duration of employment in construction is about 1.5 years;
- impossibility for close specialization of the companies and construction managers. Companies and specialists offering the realization of the construction undertaking from the phase of the research activities to the full completion of the investment project are increasingly sought;
- for small companies and sites there is more effort to improve the quality of the final product, stable partnerships between companies performing various types of activities with the idea of comprehensive implementation of complex projects;
- in addition to the necessary broad knowledge, the requirement to go into details regarding materials, technologies, applicability, expediency is added;
- insight into the "big picture" uniting the project, its participants and possible obstacles in the implementation of each stage;
- there are less and less "mandatory" knowledge, skills and experience of managers, at the expense of their balanced qualities - a guarantee of a successful end.
What are the global trends in the industry?
Management companies worldwide are constantly increasing their requirements for project managers. Realizing the need for knowledge not only in the depth of the problems, but also in a wide range of types of construction activities, they purposefully choose specialists with different interests. Of particular importance is the insight into the profile of the individual staff, its proper positioning in the company and determining the direction of its career development.
The staff that best fits the changing environment has significant advantages over their competitors in the market. Due to their insufficient number, there is a serious struggle to attract, retain and develop them. The business in Bulgaria lags behind these trends, which leads to an outflow of quality specialists to work abroad or other, better financially secured industries.
What can / should be done at the company level?
The setting of long-term goals in each construction company must correspond to its presentation to the client. In this regard, the persons of the company, namely its staff, should be familiar with the strategy and share the views of management. Despite the many benefits of such an approach, it is not always applicable, mainly due to the need for an adequate, individual company system for staff selection, commitment to each employee, his understanding, development and inclusion in the common goal.
Author: Dr. Eng. Teodor Todorov