Let’s suppose that you have money to buy software and time to implement BIM. What else is needed? It turns out that we are left ‘only’ with … working with the people. More and more of us realize that BIM is not only a 3D model or one specific program. That it is not pretty visualization or a presentation where we can see how everything fits well. BIM is primarily the PEOPLE.
I have mentioned this topic many times in the previous entries, among others in the series ‘BIM on the construction site and in the execution company’. However, it seems that it is never enough to be reminded of important matters😉 Therefore, in this article, I will present some ideas on how we can convince the people we work with to use new technologies. I will also present examples of situations from my own experience, in which the actions taken proved successful and brought the expected effect. To simplify the topic, let’s assume that we have the support of our organization’s management, a vision and strategy for the implementation of BIM and we want to carry it out in the office or on the construction site on which we work.
List of content
1. Find the real leader
Each group of employees has both a formal boss and an informal leader. Sometimes it may be the same person – which would be an ideal situation – but in most cases this informal leader does not hold a senior position and works hand in hand with the rest of the staff. He has experience, knows people, has high social skills and is usually charismatic. In one sentence, people will follow him. Your task is to find the real leader and convince him of your vision. Involve him in the work on the implementation of BIM technology and have him on your side, which will make the changes much easier to implement.
A typical situation in a construction company: there is a plan to run the project without making drawings, based only on the 3D model. You’re going to the construction site. Prepare yourself for different versions of a comment like: “You can’t build without drawings.” However, do not be discouraged. If you know the team of employees and the informal leader among them, invite him to a meeting and show the opportunities and challenges of building based on BIM technology. If you are unfamiliar with these people, spend some time on site or ask site management for help finding leaders. When you manage to convince them of your plan and engage in change, half of the success will be already achieved.
2. Give people responsibility and possibility for choice
When planning, many of us like to study the situation thoroughly, think about it, and then create a to-do list. Sometimes it would seem that it is enough to pass these tasks on and only wait for the assumed results. However, none of us like to receive “dry” orders and at the same time feel that special commitment is expected from us. To motivate your colleagues, involve them early in the decision-making process. Small changes, often not of great importance to the company itself, play a large role in the daily work of employees. People will feel much greater attachment and loyalty to achieving their goals when they are allowed to take part in the preparation of planned changes themselves.
While executing a project without drawings, all information will be extracted from the model. On the construction site it will be, among others, lists of rebar (reinforcement lists), previously provided on the drawings from and by designers. Now, the preparations will be made by construction engineers, BIM managers or foremen. How is this to be done? You have two options: either to study the topic yourself and forward the ready-made solution to the site, or … to engage those who will work with it in practice, and give them responsibility for finding it. Ask them to propose a solution, including software which will be needed for work to be done. Ultimately, they will struggle with this in their daily work, so it is correct that they should have a choice and decide on how it is done. Additionally, even if the company chooses a different solution, engaging the people early will give them motivation and better understanding of their tasks.
3. Create an atmosphere of need for change
Unfortunately – or fortunately – the world we live in is changing, among other things, through the development and everyday use of new technologies. Whoever does not adjust to the market will not be competitive. Senior managers are aware of this, but what is the awareness of an employee who has been diligently performing his tasks for several decades in the same way? He does not see the necessity of change in the same way as people working on higher positions and observing the market and the actions of competitors. Many studies dealing with the subject of changes in organizations place emphasis on creating an atmosphere of the need for change. This means that the current situation is at such a level that it becomes unacceptable to continue in it.
How to create an atmosphere of necessity to change? This can be done by following the steps below:
Identify the change and then focus on communication. Provide all interested parties with the reason for the changes, including the worst scenario in case they are not implemented. It may be a drop in sales, an ineffective process, lack of competitiveness resulting in not winning new contracts and thus reducing the number of employees and staff. By showing the reasons for the changes and backing them up with detailed data, your goal is to create an atmosphere of understanding whereby people should think, “I understand the reason for the change and why we cannot go on with the current situation any longer.”
The next step is to create a vision for the future after making changes. Show what work can look like in a better, more effective way. What will be the opportunities for the development of the organization and individual employees? How will people perceive the atmosphere of everyday work in a well-run, innovative enterprise that other companies look at with admiration?
4. Celebrate small wins
Not so long ago, there was a belief that people should be happy that they had a job at all. That they get money every month, a few weeks of vacation and maybe some social benefits. In the current situation, when the markets become more and more competitive, engineers go to work abroad, and good, experienced employees do not agree to all the terms of employment offered to them. It is not enough just to pay and demand anymore. Motivation is a key ingredient to success. Money may partially influence it, but at some level it plays a minor role. As a manager introducing a new technology, it is very important to show interest in the work of others. It is not necessary to glorify your employees for each task, but simply ask what a person does and talk about their daily challenges and how they deal with them.
What are ‘the small wins’?
This may be, for example, winning a tender, delivering documentation on time, or achieving the required LOD (level of detail or development) of models. Successful use of the software for the first time to create the reinforcement list, construction of the foundation without drawings, only from the model – all this can be considered as our daily, small successes that bring us closer to a common goal. The best thing is that very little is needed to make them stand out and celebrate in some way – all you need is a meeting of the whole team, a few good words and praise, common coffee and cake, or a gathering and showing a presentation about a job well done. There may be a lot of ideas, but the goal is one – to appreciate the daily work in order to motivate others and at the same time have fun with what we do.
For more inspiration, check out this article: Try these creative ways to celebrate your small wins.
Even if you have time and money, but do not have the right attitude of the co-workers, BIM will not help much or change your daily work. It will only be an additional tool that ‘must’ be used because someone in a higher position decided so. That is why it is so important to work with people, to communicate our vision clearly and to face new challenges together. They will always appear, but they are necessary for development – along with the people we work with.
In the article, we did not describe such issues as creating an overall vision and strategy for BIM implementation. We also omitted aspects of communication and the need to use training and courses because we wanted to show a different perspective on the introduction of new technologies in the organization. Remember that tools, even the best ones, are only a means to an end. The goal itself can be achieved only in a well-managed and well-coordinated team.