In this paper the content will review the way in which management and leadership is used at Whiting-Turner Construction. It discusses the importance of the organizational culture of both the main office and jobsites across the globe. It will discuss the importance of values and business culture as it relates to the construction industry and how it directly relates to the success or failure of construction projects, through staffing, managing, leading and, organizational culture. Globalization within the construction industry is briefly touched upon showing the need for strong management and leadership while working within the culture of the country the project is constructed.
Management and Leadership at Whiting-Turner
Whiting-Turner is a very accomplished construction company who operates within the United States and several other countries throughout the world. Whiting-Turner leads the industry in many aspects; one key example is their dedication to their staff and customers. They strive to create a culture at their main headquarters and on each project site that creates a positive environment that encourages teamwork, innovation and, quality. Whiting-Turner uses the building blocks of management and leadership along with organizational culture to build successful structures across the globe. Their dedication to safety, performance, efficiency, and innovation in the construction industry sets the standard that many other construction companies strive to imitate.
Construction Leadership and Management
Managing large constructions projects takes leadership’s skills as well as strong management skills. A manager’s responsibility is to use the four function of management that primarily focusing on planning, organizing and, controlling. Managers are responsible for the ongoing day-to-day operations, whereas leaders perform the same day-to-day functions but also orchestrate change, inspire employee and, motivate them to overcome obstacles (Bateman & Snell, 2009). Project managers have a key position in construction companies like Whiting-Turner and are assigned multiple construction projects to manage at once. They are held accountable for the success or failure of all of their construction projects. It is the responsibility of the project manager not only to plan the projects; it is also their responsibility to assign leaders for these projects to ensure the project’s success. Many projects more than five million dollars in value will take multiple managers and leaders (Florida Contractors Licensing Board, 2004, pp. 10-84).
The organizational structure is a key component in the success of large projects. Senior project managers at Whiting-Turner’s main headquarters handle all of the company’s construction projects; they assign project managers to several projects usually of similar scope and geographic location. The project managers staff the individual projects with superintendents who in all actuality are the project leaders. Large projects are also staffed with project engineers, junior project managers, project coordinators, and junior superintendents (Florida Contractors Licensing Board, 2004, pp. 10-85). These staff members are on the project site everyday usually in an onsite construction office. Each position is responsible for different aspects of the project. The project manager and superintendent are the keys to the success of the construction project according to Whiting-Turner’s organizational structure (Whiting-Turner, 2010).
Project superintendents are project leaders and work with the different trades, create a construction schedule and implement the schedule. The project engineer is responsible for the documents that must be submitted and approved prior to use in the project. The superintendent is often in the middle of most arguments that arise regarding materials that are approved and rejected. The superintendent’s role is not only to schedule the trades and inspections; they are responsible for setting the safety standards on the construction site. The superintendent and junior superintendent both enforce OSHA safety standards, many by example, via weekly safety meetings, and written warnings. When a superintendent does not follow the OSHA and companies’ safety rules, neither will the subcontractors on the project. For example, hard hats and steel toed shoes are standard safety requirements, when the superintendent does not wear his hard hat, no one else on the jobs site will believe it is required to wear their hard hats until the superintendents comply and enforce the rule. This is one way of leading by example and is a common practice in the construction industry and at Whiting-Turner.
Weekly subcontractors meetings are another way construction projects are and managed. This weekly forum allows the individual trades the opportunity to discuss concerns regarding the project. One area that encounters many problems is the electrical portion of the project. Many times lights are required to be in a specific location that also requires a large metal air conditioning duct to run in the same location. At these meetings, superintendents along with the project engineer attempt to resolve these construction issues without impacting the construction schedule and delaying other trades. Many times these issues will raise tempers between the trades. The superintendent is also responsible to resolve the trade conflicts before they erupt into physical altercations. The culture of many construction projects can be hostile. It is the responsibility of management to create an environment that condones a group or rational culture in order for the project to be successful.
The culture of the construction project is set by the leader, usually the superintendent on the project. When the staff creates animosity between the trades and does not assist when the trades ask for help, the project will be doomed to delays and an uncooperative atmosphere. A successful project will encourage the trades to discuss issue as soon as possible in order to avoid delays and conflict. They will also encourage a rational or group atmosphere expecting the understanding that each trades work is important and each trade relies upon the next to complete the project on time and without additional costs. Without a friendly open culture projects become hostile. Each trade has a feel that they are out for themselves and “why should I” becomes a common phrase. Whiting-Turner relies upon its manager to resolve these issues and create a cohesive culture.
Management across boarders
Global project management involves management in which a construction project manager is designated to manage a large capital project in a location outside of the United States. Often the project manager will be involved either personally or through assistant project managers onsite: (a) recruitment of project teams personnel, (b) identification of economic factors related to the project, (c) computer or other technical systems to be used, (d) legal contracts or other required documentations, (e) government compliance issues (f) and costs (purchasing, sales, and employee) (Burke, 2001). International construction project offer a challenge that differs from the challenges faced on construction projects within the United States. Globalization affects management in several ways. Language barriers, quality levels, access to quality materials, labor and trade issues, and government restrictions affect managers’ abilities to complete successful international projects. Globalization also offers opportunity for international construction project managers to learn new technologies, exposure to different materials and use. Globalization also brings international employees into organizations that have not been able to work with different construction practices and cultures.
Healthy Organizational Culture
Organizational culture within the construction industry in the United States is similar within geographic regions and with regard to governmental regulations; however the differences stop there. Construction companies try to set themselves apart through their vision and missions statement. These statements often speak of quality, customer care, innovation, and technology that guide the company forward. The Mission at Whiting-Turner Construction states:
The mission of Whiting-Turner is to build on our reputation for integrity, excellence, experience and as the nation’s finest construction organization by: * Continuously improving the quality of our work and services. * Constantly striving to exceed each client’s expectations. * Maintaining our dedication to the highest moral principles. * Providing our people with a challenging, secure and safe environment in which to achieve personal career goals (Whiting-Turner, 2010)
Whiting-Turner bases their business plan and organizational culture on this statement. They use the company’s culture to provide a framework that organizes and directs employees behavior while on the job. The culture is not necessarily written in word, it is more of a learned behavior from being a part of the company. Outsiders can view the culture at Whiting-Turner by observing the managers and employees as they strive to exceed each client’s expectation (Whiting-Turner, 2010).
Organizational Culture for the Construction Industry
Construction project managers can us a rational culture to create a culture on the jobsite while upholding the culture and values of Whiting Turner main office and corporate structure. The rational culture is externally oriented and focused on controls that are necessary to the success of every construction project. Its primary objectives are productivity, planning, and efficiency (Bateman & Snell, 2009). Many construction projects have a separation of labor between management and subcontractors. Project manager can use this culture to motivated project staff and subcontractors by the belief that performance and outcome leads to the success of the project and success of Whiting-Turner. This motivation for subcontractors leads to more work for the subcontractor by proving they are a team player and can maintain quality, meet deadlines, and create a positive atmosphere to work in. The rational culture also promotes corporation among trades. Subcontractors realize for them to be successful, the entire project must be successful. This type of culture promotes corporation with management as well. Managers are viewed as necessary to the success of the project and not viewed as dictators.
The managers at the main headquarters of Whiting-Turner would benefit from the use of a Group culture. A group culture is internally oriented and flexible. It tends to be based on the values and norms associated with affiliation (Bateman & Snell, 2009). Whiting-Turner’s managers and employees take their direction from the mission statement as well as directives flows from trust, tradition, and long-term commitment. This type of culture emphasizes employee development and participation in decision making. The strategic orientation associated with this cultural type is one of implementation through consensus building (Bateman & Snell, 2009). Managers act as mentors and facilitators to encourage this culture through core values established by the founder of Whiting-Turner’s original CEO’s, G.W. Whiting and LeBron Turner in 1912. “Words such as integrity, loyalty, and customer delight—while routinely thrown about without meaning in business today—have always been taken very seriously by the firm. Whiting-Turner’s mission statement is the embodiment of these values” (Whiting-Turner, 2010). These core values would assist in the building of a strong and comfortable Group culture at Whiting-Turner.
The construction industry and Whiting-Turner have many similarities; however the management and leadership along with the company’s culture set Whiting-Turner apart from many others within the industry. Their mission and core values indirectly dictate to their manager, leaders, and employees the importance of providing continuous improvement, exceeding customers’ expectations, maintaining moral principles, and challenging employees in order help them achieve their career goals (Whiting-Turner, 2010). Managers and leaders use the functions of management to propel the company forward while creating the companies culture to retain employees and gain repeat business from customers. Leadership, management and organizational culture are the building blocks of business and the foundation of all successful construction projects throughout the world.
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Whiting-Turner. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.whitingturner.com