Respect and Gratitude
by Barry Thalden
Respect and Gratitude
Doing business through ‘partnering’
Barry Thalden, AIA, NCARB is a partner in Thalden-Boyd-Emery Architects, with over 35 years experience in hotel and casino design. The firm has offices in Las Vegas, St. Louis, Tulsa and Phoenix. For more information he can be reached at 1-800-thalden or email@example.com
Developing, building and expanding casinos and hotels is always challenging. But why not make the process exciting, team-spirited and, yes, even fun.
It may seem incongruous to consider words like gratitude, respect, caring and integrity in an article about business. However, these energies are powerful life forces that manifest success in both daily life and in business.
Too often business is seen as win-lose
Most of the time, business is seen as win-lose. People talk about being a “team player,” but often they really mean they want everyone to play on their team, their way. Conflict is frequently the vehicle commonly used for resolving issues. However, the associated emotions of frustration, fear and anger lead to hollow victories, upsetting defeats and bad feelings all around.
This does not need to be the way business is conducted. It is more than kind, it is also wise, to treat all people who cross your path with compassion, understanding and respect. In fact, simple physics shows that all forces pulling in the same direction creates a greater force than going in different directions—infinitely more than when some are headed in the opposite direction.
A team of architects, engineers, contractors, suppliers, lenders and clients can work together in everyone’s best interest. It is a scenario that can be much more rewarding, and in the end produce a much better product for the available dollars.
In fact, extraordinary results can be achieved when everybody’s prime motivation is working together instead of everyone trying to get the most for themselves, or just covering their butts (often referred to as “CYA”).
Everyone involved needs to be inspired to work together. There is no i in team. It’s about we not me. How then to get the best out of everyone, and how to keep them passionate about the project?
One of the ways that can get the whole team on the same path is a process called “partnering.” Partnering is a way to bring all parties together to pursue a common goal. The objective is to help everyone on the team understand each other’s desires and to recognize that they are all “partners” trying to achieve these same objectives:
To produce the best possible product at a reasonable cost;
To make a fair profit for everyone involved;
To have a fulfilling experience along the way; and
To be personally proud of the project when it is done.
Nobody really wins unless everyone wins
Partnering requires a shift in attitude—a “nobody really wins unless everyone wins” attitude. This evolves out of everyone truly caring about the success, not just of the project, but of every member of the team.
It requires respect and understanding for each player’s role and how they contribute to the whole. It takes working together and helping one another in an atmosphere of gratefulness—knowing that no one can do their best unless everyone does their job. It changes: “You need to help me,” to “How can I help you?”
Partnering gives each person an understanding and appreciation of the tasks of others; when each of the players has a better picture of the whole, it energizes everyone to perform beyond reasonable expectations and deliver extraordinary results. It creates a project that is built with more than just bricks and mortar—it gets infused with respect and gratitude.
When this kind of energy goes into the creation of a building, it will be felt for a long time into the future by both the employees that run the facility and the guests that will enjoy coming to the property.
Partnering works best with a professional facilitator conducting off-site retreats or workshops that get everyone focused and keep them on the same path. Jim Eisenhart, a facilitator with the Ventura Consulting Group, said: “On a typical project there will be conflict.” And too often one hears statements like: “I didn’t bid it that way,” or “I’ve been doing it this way for years.” Other times contractors play the “change order game.” Eisenhart refers to this as “business as usual.” He has seen, however, that with formal partnering the combative attitude can almost disappear and “business as usual” changes into “high performance teams.”
There are always difficulties that arise unexpectedly and dealing with them is often challenging. But suffering over them is optional. Negativity never has power to make things happen, and it can block the ability to create positively. It is possible for everything to work out in a way that is in the best interest of all concerned by maintaining respect and gratitude. Stay in the flow and let the best of everyone happen.
Another facilitator, Ann McGee Cooper, author of the book “You Don’t Have to Go Home from Work Exhausted,” said the objective is to engage the team in a supportive forum to foster trust and communication in order to:
—Learn leadership tools, apply them and understand how they fit within the context of the project;
—Identify thinking and problem-solving abilities and how to balance these preferences and strengths with those who think in an opposite style;
—Learn how to more effectively use the abilities of team members and collaborate between areas of functionality;
—Significantly improve communication skills; and
—Create a shared vision for the project, identify barriers to success and dialogue solutions.
At the conclusion of the initial partnering workshop, each person signs the “project team covenant” to which they all have committed. Partnering is not a one-time cure-all, but an ongoing process throughout the project to keep all parties on track, producing extraordinary results.
It is possible for projects to be completed ahead of schedule, under budget and with everyone making more money
Partnering can succeed in getting everyone committed to the ultimate objective, supporting each other and creating a much better ongoing work attitude amongst everyone responsible for making the project a success. A supportive environment makes it possible for everyone to shine.
Partnering increases the potential for projects to be completed ahead of schedule, under budget and with everyone making more money. And, at the same time the process can be a rewarding experience for everyone. Respect and gratitude are winning formulas for success.