Respect and Collaboration – Best Project Practices

Fostering true collaboration in a project team doesn't always come easily.

The mission of every Owner’s Representative is, in short, to advocate for the owner. Advocacy is only successful, however, when there is a concerted effort to establish and employ strategies that foster true teamwork. We often hear from our colleagues and peers (design professionals, contractors, vendors) that their experience with Owner’s Reps is less than stellar. It seems that there are some in our profession who believe that making themselves look good to their client should be done at the expense of the rest of the project team.

THE APPROACH

Respect and collaboration are two crucial elements in a project that tend to be overlooked or ignored. We all have an obligation and desire to do our absolute best for our clients, but that does not mean any of us are perfect and things never go wrong. We aren’t, and they do. However, the type of approach you take to get a project back on track is key. In our experience, we have found that:

  • Berating and talking down to colleagues is not a beneficial practice and can only harm the overall project experience. There are times when difficult conversations must occur, but they should be handled privately, professionally, and respectfully.
  • Fostering a two-way dialogue from project inception and letting the team-members know their individual success is vital to the overall success of the project. This allows the team to confidently let the Owner’s Rep know when an issue or concern arises so we can help accordingly.
  • Team members need to feel safe to voice opinions or suggestions and think creatively for optimal project results.

CLIENT/TEAM UNDERSTANDING

While an Owner’s Rep’s purpose revolves around our dedication to the client, we also have an obligation as professionals to make certain that the client understands legitimate requests for additional time or money from the team. For example, when the design professional is asked to attend 40 meetings instead of 4 as outlined in the original proposal and asks to be compensated, it is our job to make sure that the:

  • Request is appropriate
  • Client is clear that they have requested additional duties or services outside of the initial agreement
  • Client has an obligation to pay for those services

Similarly, when schedule duration is reduced, it is our job as Owner’s Reps to understand the necessary steps to maintain the end-date and make sure that the contractor/vendor is fairly compensated.

RESPECT AND COLLABORATION: THE PAYOFF

Owner’s Reps aren’t focused on winning a popularity contest, but on getting the job done and prioritizing respect and collaboration between each team member, colleague, and the client. Aside from our long-term relationships with our clients, we are most proud to hear feedback from our colleagues, like: “This project has restored my faith in the ability to work with an Owner’s Rep” or “Yes, Owner’s Reps are tough, but fair”.

 

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If you’ve wondered “What exactly does an Owner’s Rep do?” check out our blog series From Planning to Execution where we delve into the part an Owner’s Rep plays in an owner’s project.


Anne McFadden, PMP

Anne McFadden, PMP