Fostering an Environment of Mutual Success

What’s the mark of a great project? Ask any construction professional and you’ll likely hear shades of the same: profitability, a well-managed schedule, a safe job site, staying on or under budget, timely delivery, with the pinnacle of course being a happy client. Somewhere along the way, perhaps a result of an increasingly competitive market, an important measure of excellence got lost—mutual success. Greg Lynch, AEC’s new Vice President of Operations, is hoping to resurrect this on AEC’s job sites. 

If teamwork makes the dream work, it seems only fitting that mutual success for all project partners should follow. But in an exceptionally competitive industry where every second and penny counts, a scramble culture has been inadvertently created. Tradespeople all the way up to project owners are feeling the pressure as they strive to get things done as quickly as possible and for the most efficient budget. With project success and professional reputation on the line, it can be hard to feel comfortable failing forward together, which can lead to shifting accountability and low morale within the broader project team. It can feel like a whole lot of give and no take, which means the project can end up feeling like a win for one party but a loss for another. 

For Greg, mutual success is most simply translated as opportunity for growth because of a job well done. When a project is a “win,” no one should walk away feeling like they’ve lost. “Mutual success of a general contractor or subcontractor or designer or owner happens when we’ve worked through a project so well that we haven’t blown the budget or schedule. As a consequence, everyone has the potential to increase a product or service, develop a new one, hire new staff, or pursue bigger jobs. This perpetual growth is good for the industry and the economy,” he said. “At every level, there is no reason why anyone has to lose on a project—big, small, complicated, simple— for us to say it was an amazing project,” said Greg.  

This level of success is never a given on a project and creating an environment where mutual success can happen is more challenging in practice than in theory. It takes careful coordination and buy-in from the entire team. 

“The AEC team and our subcontractors are working together to produce the finished product, but as the Construction Manager, we are the champion responsible for bringing it all together. It’s the subcontractor’s role to bring forth their best product or service. It’s our role to make sure they understand how they fit into the process,” he explained. “We’re maintaining the quality of the construction, the schedule, and the budget for the client. At the same time, we’re maintaining our relationships with subcontractors, keeping everyone working together and accountable, and making sure everybody within the project team comes out on top. That’s probably one of the biggest challenges of the industry.” 

Mutual success is driven by great communication, strong relationships, and most importantly, creating an environment where people are happy to come to work each day. When a job site is well-organized and safe, and roles are clear, the people and project are set up for success. That means everyone can focus on doing what they do best and find fulfilment in their workday. 

“Driving those fixed metrics like schedule and budget is incredibly important, but we can’t forget the people behind the project. We want to bring some enjoyment back into an industry that tends to be cut-throat,” said Greg. “There are tradespeople who could be spending four, five, six months or longer on a construction project and that is their place of work for half a year. We want people to be excited about coming to an AEC site.” 

With enjoyment comes a level of dedication that takes a project from good to great. The more great projects that are built because the entire team is motivated and working cohesively, the more exciting growth we will see in our communities. For Greg and for AEC, that future is something worth investing in.