A headline from the Wall Street Journal caught my attention this morning: “When People Come and Go: Project teams often have different workers at different times. And that can create problems.” Imagine the potential problems that exist in an industry where project team members change regularly such as in the construction industry.
What does history report on labor in the construction industry? According to the U.S. Department of Labor | Bureau of Labor Statistics, the “contract construction field is very competitive” and the “rate of business turnover is high” in the managerial occupations. While the career guide contains some outstanding historical data on the industry as a whole, recent trends contradict the some of the growth forecasts by the BLS.
Does turnover affect your project management teams? According to the WSJ article, you should be asking yourself the following questions:
- Are you constantly shuffling people on and off your teams?
- Do new team members take a long time to get up to speed?
- Are long term team members dissatisfied with training new team members?
- Is your group performing as well as they should?
If you answered “Yes” to any of the above questions, then you have an opportunity to make some changes within your project management structure. Here are some suggestions from the WSJ article:
- Create cohesion by teaming responsibilities. It is hard to build a sense of identification with a team if turnover is high. However, workers identify with other employees and managers who perform the same type of work.
- Strengthen commitment by building motivation. “Team members who spend only a short time in the group often lack commitment to the task and the group,” writes Gervase Bushe, professor of leadership and organization development. Providing clearer communication, targeting job satisfaction, increasing job responsibility are more than buzz phrases … they can often make the difference in employee commitment.
- Foster a mindset of shared thinking. Over time, effective project management teams develop a common way of thinking about a project, including ways about approaching the work or communicating with employees. With turnover, it is hard to develop and maintain a shared approach. Consider creating a “Best Practices Protocol” for each particular team.
Question: What project management tips do you recommend to deal with turnover?