Blog Published: 10/07/2018

Blogger - Ben Kernick

How to build better competence in your team; and why?

Less than 100% right is not a close second; it’s a potential disaster
It’s a big cultural change for many companies to think about bringing training into their daily operations almost as a tool like any other software tool is used. It doesn’t have to be a big deal though. It doesn’t have to involve big investment and sending staff out of the office for days on end with all the associated disruption.
At the same time, making sure there’s no margin for slippage due to ‘rusty’ skills among even your most accomplished team players is a big deal. Clients pay for, and quite rightly expect, quality, professional people who add value to their projects. They expect to be able to rely on the architects, engineers and other construction professionals they trust with delivering high quality outcomes. These are businesses and professionals where there is no margin for error.
I talked about this in my recent blog, 'Beyond the Classroom' where I explored the concept of ‘organisational development’; an integrated approach to the development of people’s skills and talents. Taking it a step further I believe there’s a consideration around the actual investment that your business makes in technology that needs to be taken into account.
A key element in maximising return on investment from your technology is to make sure it’s used in the way it’s supposed to be used; that it serves your people in the way it should, enabling them to service your clients in the way you need to. The AEC Collection, for example, is the bedrock of many businesses, and as new technologies come on-stream, like virtual reality, they’re incorporated in the collection. The question is: Are they incorporated in the skills sets of your people?
Three challenges in creating a strong team
You can’t underestimate the critical importance of this whole area of continuous skills development, skills update, or organisational development. Maintaining 100% professional competence, and accuracy, addresses three aspects of the business: recruitment, staff (and corporate collective knowledge) development, and staff retention. In this regard it is core to business efficiency, absolutely central to maintaining a competitive advantage and delivers client satisfaction. Your company must be able to assess where your people are in terms of skills and, increasingly, on the complexities and many processes and workflows entailed in a BIM strategy.
  • Recruitment
    The very process of hiring people can be a drain on resources. A few years back it was estimated that it costs over £30K to replace a staff member. There are many factors to consider, including the direct costs of agency fees, and all the interviews that need to take place to get the right person. There are time factors, loss of productivity factors, and the sheer inconvenience of it all. Add to this the on-boarding process, lower productivity as people come up to speed, and the costs mount up.
  • Development
    Putting a personal development plan in place for individuals is a process that achieves many goals at the same time. It addresses the next challenge of staff retention. It ensures ongoing skills improvement and relevance. It contributes to the collective competence of the company. A problem might be that it sounds a little labour and time-intensive, depending on how many people there are on your workforce. In my last blog I discussed the software tools that can automate continuous learning – making it a self-service discipline for staff but with management checks and balances to measure its effectiveness. The tools are KnowledgeSmart and Pinnacle Series. KnowledgeSmart assesses the skills of each employee, identifying any skills gaps, and benchmarks people against the prevalent skills standards in the industry. The skills gaps can be filled with the use of Pinnacle series, a powerful and advanced e-learning platform specifically designed for the architecture, engineering and construction industry. Pre-defined and custom training courses and plans can be added based on the individual and organisational needs.
  • Retention
    When you demonstrate investment in people, they show a higher propensity to remain loyal; they appreciate that the company cares and so they care back. This challenge is partly about company culture; creating a ‘great place to work’, which employees rank high on their list of motivational factors (in other words, it isn’t always about money). Job satisfaction is a two-way street, requiring genuine effort from the company as much as it does from the individual.
Where do you begin?
I wouldn’t suggest that any organisation jumps straight into an overall ‘organisational development’ strategy without first having a detailed understanding of its technology portfolio; an ‘audit’ of the theoretical extent and scope of capabilities that you already have within the organisation to empower your users.
You need to identify clear goals associated with each software package you use. Excitech can help here with our Design Productivity Review (DPR) where we look at every process in the business, from A to Z, through to the end deliverable, to assess how you do things and how to become more efficient. We help you find the best way to achieve your goals and we often find that we reveal to companies many tools within their portfolio that are already there, but they simply did not know they had.
There is no wiggle-room for fielding people on any project who have less than 100% competence and less than 100% confidence. They, and the management team, need constant awareness that their skills are completely in line with the tools they use. They need complete understanding of the workflows they follow, and the procedures and processes that give the framework and professional governance to what they do.
In my next blog I’m going to take the topic of this blog a little further, looking at the top five ingredients in a successful strategy for building a winning team.

About the author

  • Ben Kernick

Ben Kernick

Customer Success Manager – Organisational Development

Ben Kernick has been employed within the area of digital design for over 20 years and specialises within organisational development. Drawing from his experiences whilst working as a Design Manager, Authorised Autodesk Instructor and Specialist Consultant, he now supports customers within the adoption of new technologies, ensuring they have right skills to draw maximum return from within their software investment.

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