How to manage and support teams on projects of scale?
Inspired to forge a practical career path and hungry to get his career off the ground, a 16-year old Alan Day left school to join the built environment. Taking on roles in CAD management and project coordination, before ultimately moving to ISG in 2013.
Joining our UK fit out division initially as a Construction Manager, Alan has spent the past nine years climbing his way through the ranks; gaining experience and qualifications, and working on a range of large-scale projects within the London office market.
All building up to his largest project to date, where Alan currently leads on his first job as Project Director for one of the world’s largest consumer tech brands. Focusing his energy on motivating and building up the teams of people who are starting to forge their own career paths – just as he had done nine years previous.
While the built environment – and the fit out market more specifically – has changed a lot since he first stepped on a site, his passion for the industry and commitment to delivering complex schemes has never wavered.
What drives your enthusiasm for leadership and creating a positive site environment for your team?
I love that feeling of being able to see the tangible results of a project you’ve been responsible for – and more importantly, the enjoyment the finished product brings to the people who have helped you to deliver it.
You spend so much time with the people onsite, which is why it’s really important to create a supportive, ‘family-feel’ environment where the team can build a good rapport.
We’ve got an ISG team of 46 on site at present, so it can be tricky to have everybody feeling equally happy and connected with one another. But we’ve worked really hard as a team to create the close-knit sense of unity that allows everyone to feel that work is somewhere they can feel happy, safe and cared for.
So, to follow on from this, what approaches do you take as a leader to help motivate your teams and maintain momentum on the megascale projects you work on?
To keep people motivated, it’s all about empowerment. Empowering people to trust their instincts, make their own decisions and forge their own paths is what will truly drive happiness and make them want to go that bit further. And when you empower your people properly the importance of each individual role is realised, and that’s crucial to keeping everybody motivated.
I believe that everybody who comes through our doors comes here to progress themselves, their careers and their lives. Whether you’re an apprentice on your first project, or a senior leader 15 years into your career, everybody wants to keep putting the work in, to feel proud of what they’ve delivered. For me, it’s so important that everybody feels they have the best opportunity to succeed.
How do you manage your site set ups to create this empowering environment?
Creating a safe, happy and healthy environment for your people is integral for any project. And that doesn’t don’t just mean with our immediate colleagues, it’s important that our visiting clients and supply chain feel equally as happy. More specifically, taking things like catering amenities, spaces for socialising, and health and wellness facilities into consideration goes a long way.
As a result of the pandemic, there’s been a real culture shift in employee needs and the way we design our offices to encourage people to return to the physical workspace. In order to deliver on these needs for our clients, we have to start at home. The link between how we design our own spaces and how we design the office spaces of our clients is something we should all be able to connect on.
What separates megascale projects from smaller projects for you as a Project Director? And how do you feel this impacts your team?
When you’re on a project for a longer period of time it can become physically draining, emotionally exhausting, and teams can lose sight of the bigger picture over time. It’s essential for me – and the rest of the senior leaders on the project – that we give the right support, guidance and mentoring for the team from the start.
It’s important that we all go the extra mile to support fellow colleagues to help them get through their low points and overcome mental fatigue. There’s a high staff retention on the megascale projects that we deliver, and I do genuinely believe that’s because we foster this type of supportive culture internally.
What are the biggest drivers in delivering megascale projects?
There are huge expectations on quality, and businesses are focusing more and more on going that one step further in developing a high quality design that will really entice people back to their physical workplaces.
From getting the best architects and consultants onsite to deliver the scheme, to building great atriums to bring more natural light to the space, brands are going above and beyond to try and beat their competitors.
For contractors like ISG, it’s important for us to be flexible and communicative throughout the build. Making sure that we always allow for any prospective changes to the design or bold asks from the client – to create something truly spectacular that the client will feel at home in for years to come.
Any final thoughts?
I’m one of those people that genuinely enjoys their job and I always want to feel that I’m leading by example. Being able to play even a small part in furthering someone’s career and sharing my experience with the next generation of future leaders is a real privilege.
Being given the opportunity to deliver these exceptional projects of scale – the offices of the future – is definitely what gets me out of bed in the morning. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to the people you have around you and you’re only as good as the team you’ve got working for you, so I guess I’m lucky in that respect.