- How welcoming is the industry to people from outside the sector?
- Should companies have a clearer purpose in order drive change?
- Does unconscious bias hinder creativity in the industry?
- Why don’t all rising stars reach their full potential?
These were just some of the questions explored during the Major Projects Association Annual Conference 2018. In a session led by Isabelle Linden, Principal Consultant for PA Consulting and Bill McElroy, Head of Industry Strategy for Turner and Townsend, they brought their own experiences and thoughts and opened the conversation to the audience for a wider debate.
How purpose can drive change
Company values are becoming a hot topic across all sectors as organisations realise that their values need to be more than words on a wall or website. If companies really want to attract new talent and the creativity that goes with it then they need to focus on their purpose.
But how can a clear purpose actually drive change and how dramatic will the results be? Isabelle used the example of Blue Planet 2 and how it has driven an awareness of single-use plastic consumption. The Blue Planet effect has been powerful in driving change across the country and there’s no reason why companies focused on their own purpose can’t see similar effects in their organisation. As Bill pointed out; a clear sense of purpose is also key to attracting new, creative talent too.
As the world is changing it’s clear that the projects sector is too. Part of that change is about embracing people from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences. As Isabelle said; the sector has a reputation for being “male, pale and stale!” and needs to be challenged on how welcoming it is of people who don’t fit the usual type. Companies who create more opportunities and pathways for women, parents and people from a non-projects background will find that their teams will be more open to challenge their way of thinking and be more creative as a result.
Focus on work life balance
In any company, health and safety training is a priority and treated as a critical factor before any work can begin. Bill shared that research has found stress and commuting actually caused more damage to companies than health and safety issues. So why is such importance placed on health and safety and not on mental well-being, burnout and staff travel arrangements?
For companies looking to promote pathways to success they must place an emphasis on work life balance and addressing staff commutes is a great way to start. Journey times and out-of-hours travel are easy to monitor and measure, and simple policies around commutes can make a difference to the well-being of staff.
Stress can be harder to measure, although using a tool like The Judgement Index can certainly help identify staff members who may not be coping with stress or pressure, and Bill shared that it’s important for companies to have a more transparent culture for people. Being able to say “I’m not coping” should be acceptable from someone in any position along with steps to address stress. This should be as ingrained in a company as their health and safety processes.
Resilience is the key to progression
During the conference a vote was being taken on the top 3 barriers to potential in the sector.
The results were:
- Misalignment of individual purpose
- Inflexible career pathway
- Lack of work life balance
However, there was one key barrier that didn’t factor into the voters top 3 but has been found to be the most important following a piece of research from Judgement Index. That factor is resilience.
The Judgement Index has undertaken this research with the Major Projects Association to better understand the key values-based behaviours of what it takes to be a competent project delivery professional. The research has looked at people in different stages of their career to see what potential barriers to success and progression were found during the career pathway and how the Association and the companies themselves could better support people working in major projects.
Despite resilience not being considered a top barrier by the audience at the conference, the research shows that resilience is the key to progressing and reaching full potential in the projects sector.
It makes a lot of sense. Major projects can be lengthy and complex and therefore those individuals who can put coping mechanisms in place to be the corporate marathon runner, rather than the corporate 100 metre sprinter, will most likely perform better.
Resilience is also something that can be taught and developed over time. Companies who embrace this type of training for their teams will find they have better coping skills to manage stress and pressure, are able to problem-solve at a faster pace and will be more intuitive and creative in their work.
The full results of the research have now been published by the Major Projects Association and the report is available to members here. If you wish to learn more about the research or how the Judgement Index assessment can be used by your projects team then please get in touch.
There’s one thing to note… if your projects team is looking to progress and achieve; then resilience has to be the focus.