Woven into the fabric of construction projects are relative norms that we often take for granted. Using the briefest of overviews, on a construction project, individuals perform tasks needed to fulfill the accomplishments necessary for success. Throughout the journey between concept and fruition, often the tasks are given prominence and the individuals performing those tasks blur into the real time landscape of the process.

We focus on time frames, deadlines, schedules, milestones, influencers, important stakeholders, and so on. These business realities are incredibly important and help drive decisions needed to address concerns and progress. So often, managerial reality is all consumed with tasks and tangibles as driven by the schedule and milestones. This focus may be imperative for the bottom line, timing, and fiscal realities based on scheduling.

Is there room in managerial direction that allows for higher echelon review so that those on the receiving end of tasks and scheduling realities are included in the process for planning, prioritizing, and tasking? Is there an understanding that human elements may hold efficiencies and eliminate waste throughout the entire project?

Without question, it is possible that incredible resources, insight, and wisdom are available to management. Four words can unlock these resources when management has the courage to ask staff: “What do you think?”

Organizational Opportunity

If we are serious about transformational culture where inclusion and respect are the foundational cornerstones of the construction organization, senior management must lead the way. This is not grassroots level, this is C-Suite level. It is imperative that the senior administration demonstrate awareness and lead by example. While it is true that customers are important, sometimes we forget that without staff, we won’t have customers.

Further, we sometimes forget that our staff can be fountains of knowledge and wisdom. We forget to ask those people who perform the tasks if they have thoughts and ideas on how to do the tasks simpler, better, faster. In our focus on “the big picture,” we forget that problem solving, creativity, and brilliance exist all around us.

First, though, in order to access these wonderful resources, we have to engage with and earn the trust of our staff. The sharing of ideas and giving voice to creativity and making suggestions requires a level of safety and comfort for the staff; it’s often not easy to approach the crew leader, superintendent, project manager, and so forth. It’s only possible when the leadership reaches out and demonstrates their genuine willingness to listen, and to show true interest in individuals across all levels and departments.

Organizational Transformation

Never underestimate the importance, and power, of your greetings and conversations for those all around you. “Hello” and “Good Morning” are beyond important and must be considered crucial elements of managerial requirements. Not only do these phrases open the opportunity for connection and belonging, but they also show respect. Perhaps most importantly, these greetings also pave the way for individuals to experience the first three levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Basics such as hydration & sanitation, PPE, and connecting with others begin to fulfill aspects of physiological, safety, and belonging needs. Your greetings and asking others how to improve tasks and processes do all of this. You include and show respect for everyone. You create a positive culture and have opened the doors for communication to begin flowing in all directions. Collaborative Leadership will energize and engage all those around you.

Teams are forged when individuals feel that they are safe, valued, and that they really matter. Teams grow and become stronger when individuals feel appreciated and valued, their esteem continues to grow, and thus self-actualization and personal development are possible. Individuals, and the entire organization, are transformed.

Transforming Non-Used Talent

Active Listening in conjunction with conversation provides opportunities to foster professional development and improvements in all directions. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DIEB) are only possible when individuals feel safe enough to share their thoughts and ideas. This occurs when all levels of leadership actively and purposefully interact and learn about the individuals around them. To discover areas of strength and excellence in individuals, the leaders must first ask and learn about areas of enjoyment and past success of those individuals. Unless you ask, it is probable that you will never know. When you inquire and converse, you demonstrate respect. You provide the culture where individuals become part of the Team.

When we make the conscious decision to learn more about those around us, we facilitate and foster collegiality and collaboration. We seek to discover the knowledge and wisdom of those around us, and we strive to be better stewards of the talent and resources available to us. We demonstrate our awareness of the need and willingness to purposefully and actively engage those around us. We want them on the Team. We want to learn from them. We must encourage, respect, and support all individuals so that Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging are the foundation of our collaborative organizations.


[1]. Cherry, K. (2022). Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow believed that physiological and psychological needs motivate our actions [online]. Available at: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-maslows-hierarchy-of-needs-4136760 (Accessed: 31 January 2023)

[2]. Craig, D. (2021). What is Lean Construction? [online]. Available at: https://www.procore.com/jobsite/what-is-lean-construction-definition-and-principles/ (Accessed: 1 February 2023)

[3]. Do, D. (2017). What is Muda, Mura, Muri? [online]. Available at: https://theleanway.net/muda-mura-muri (Accessed: 10 January 2023)

[4]. Ortiz, V.R. (2022). Understanding the 7...No 8…No 10 Forms of Waste [online]. Available at: https://leanconstructionblog.com/Understanding-the-7%E2%80%A6No,8%E2%80%A6No,10-Forms-of-Wastes.html (Accessed: 26 January 2023)

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Deck is a champion of improving employee satisfaction and retention through a culture of Safety and 6S. He is a facilities construction project manager for a regional healthcare organization and is adjunct faculty in Construction Management at Southern New Hampshire University.