Making history twice
Eric, a project manager for one of Oregonís top 10 general contractors, told Session 4B of the Leadership Development Lab:
"In 1995, our company started construction on the renovation of the Multnomah County Central Library in downtown Portland, Oregon. I was the project manager for this highly visible job.
"The building, which was designed by A.E. Doyle, was originally built in 1913 for a cost of $465,000. Our renovation contract was approximately $17 million!
"The challenge was to upgrade the building to modern standards while also restoring the interior to match its original appearance and ensure its historic merit. The major modernization elements included:
- Seismic reinforcing to improve building safety and meet present code.
- Completely new HVAC systems to meet modern comfort needs and preserve the libraryís contents.
- Completely new electrical systems, including computer networking capabilities throughout the facility.
"We literally gutted the entire interior of the building in order to install all of the new elements.
"Throughout the process, we worked with historical experts, along with numerous outstanding subcontractors who brought forward the craftsmanship necessary to meet all of the demanding project goals. There were many old journeymen craftsmen and apprentice craftsmen who were knowledgeable about the fine arts of plaster, terrazzo, stone and woodwork.
"At our weekly construction progress meetings, I always made a deliberate point of introducing the new project experts into the team as the project unfolded. I told about their background, recent successes, and the important part they were playing in the success of the project.
"For me, the project was a thrilling experience from start to finish.
"In recognition of the projectís success, the project team received the 1998 Project of the Year Award for Historical Preservation
from the American Public Works Association.
"The lesson I learned from this experience is that outstanding results can be achieved when the individual craftsmen are recognized and fully involved, when they are participating as members of an overall team.
"The action I call you to take is to engage your employees in such a manner that they can easily take pride in the final results of their work.
"The benefit you will receive is the recognition that always comes from higher quality projects and results that are fulfilling and fun to be involved in."
The most important part of this brief story, which illustrates Ericís achievement, is the simple idea of honoring each and every member of the team. The way he chose to honor them was introducing them respectfully as important team members, even if their part of the job was relatively small. Each team memberís part was extremely important for the overall project to be successful. In some cases, their part may have only been veneer. There could have been an inclination to downplay their importance, since the original intention was to make the building more structurally sound. Including them, honoring them, as Eric said, was vital to the success of the project. How does this relate to you and your business? Chances are you have important suppliers without whom you cannot be successful, maybe some part-time employees or even the infamous "temps," who are often dropped into work assignments with almost no orientation. Too often, these temps are treated as a "hand" rather than as an important member of the team. If youíd like to improve the performance and the outcome of your team, we urge you to honor every member of the organization as if their contribution is vitally important, for in fact, it is.
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