Project Management and Leadership in Construction Company
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Published: Wed, 07 Mar 2018
There are several key elements that contribute to the success of any organization – good management, inspirational leadership, proper service-orientation, and economic stability. Today, little emphasis is placed on the study of an organization’s infrastructure, function, and employees’ behaviors as they relate to successful accomplishment of the organization’s goals.
Rather, these concepts are typically taken at face value and accepted for what they are. Employees work and accomplish at a minimum what needs to be done. Within the last century or so studies relating to behavior in organizations began to increasingly emerge resulting in the theoretical framework of this field. The three most notable facets of this framework includes: scientific management, human relations movement and bureaucracy. (Greenberg and Baron, p.12-14).
This paper will provide brief information on the theoretical framework of an organization’s structures which in turn will provide an overview of types of management/leadership styles, an assessment of the New York City Department of Design and Construction’s (NYCDDC) style of management, and my personal management preference.
According to Greenberg and Baron, one of the earliest pioneers in the study of behavior in organizations, Frederick Winslow Taylor, an engineer, sought ways to change the ineptitudes of employees. His research, the concept of scientific management, “not only identified ways to design manual labor jobs more efficiently, but also emphasized carefully selecting and training people to perform them.” The second facet of the theoretical framework, the human relations movement, was founded by Elton W. Mayo, an organizational scientist and consultant.
The human relations movement “emphasized the social conditions existing in organizations–the way employees are treated by management and the relationships they have with each other – influence job performance.” Bureaucracy, the third facet, was initiated by Max Weber, a sociologist. This form of organization is governed by a “set of applied rules that keep higher-ranking organization officials in charge of lower-ranking workers, who fulfill the duties assigned to them.” (Greenberg and Baron, p.12-14)
Today, at least one form of the theoretical framework can be found in any existing organization, and, each form comes with a different type of management leadership style within the organization. So then, what is management? Management, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary as, “the conducting or supervising of something (as a business or people).” Management)
Managers are endowed with the power to lead their organization. They must share that power in conjunction with other leaders in other parts of the organization and wield that power successfully over a designated staff within the organizational hierarchy. Since no one individual is gifted with precise knowledge on every topic, managers must: possess their own particular area of expertise, have an understanding of general organizational psychology, consistently offer creative thinking and innovative views on current issues facing the organization at different levels and guide (supervise) and motivate their team effectively along a predetermined path that will meet their corporate goals in order to insure the success of the entire organization.
But not all managers supervise their staff in the same way. The different management leadership styles are noted in the Every Manager’s Desk Reference by Penguin Group, Inc. Some of the styles include: “dictatorship, the ‘almost’ democracy, the partnership and the transformational leadership.” According to the Every Manager’s Desk Reference
In a dictatorship, managers, tend to keep decision- making powers and most critical knowledge to themselves. In the ‘almost’ democracy, the leader “strives to make sure the group is well informed and participating in the direction of the team as a whole.” In a partnership, the lines between the leader and the members of the group are blurred. The leader “becomes just one of the group.” And, in the case of the transformational leader, the leader “goes beyond trying to keep individuals and team performing at the status quo…he/she is .one who has the power to bring about change in team members and the organization as a whole. (Penguin Group, Inc., p. 309-312)
The theoretical framework and management style employed by an organization determines whether or not it is effectively leading its staff, enhancing and improving the morale and the overall work environment; and, thereby increasing productivity and output quality by employees.
Based on some of the characteristics listed by Greenberg and Baron, which includes, “Formal rules and regulations; Division of Labor; Hierarchical structure; Authority structure, etc…” (Greenberg and Baron, p.14), the theoretical framework employed by the NYCDDC is that of a bureaucracy and a “directive leadership” style of management. Under a directive leadership, the managers “give specific guidance to their subordinates.” However, there are limitations associated with the directive leadership style of management because it can be “redundant, less effective and can reduce a worker’s satisfactions.” (12 Manage Premium, 2009) Additionally, adherence to the agency’s policies and procedures are a strict requirement.
There is also a partnership style that applies within the NYCDDC’s various divisions/units. It is essential for all units of the agency to work cohesively together to ensure the agency’s mission, goals and objective of safe, successful, and expeditious completion of projects are met.
The day to day management of any organization is one of the most essential factors that will either result in the success of that organization or to its eventual demise. In support of the above statement, Chris Lauer, in his book, “The Management Gurus,” states, “Who you are determines what you see and the way you see it…and who you are determines how you see others.” (Lauer, p 8) Although, the agency employs the directive leadership method, the style of management most applicable to my personality is, “the ‘almost’ democracy.” My work ethic parallels the basic characteristics of this style.
I encourage “participation from all team members and welcome their opinions in setting new goals, procedures and direction for the unit.” (Penguin Group, Inc., p.310-311) This form of management creates a trusting environment between management and staff because it welcomes and encourages communication of staff views and ideas. All viable ideas are openly considered. With this style, any given team is motivated to do what is best for the team and for the organization as a whole while displaying adaptability and openness to ideas from peers.
This style of management declares that an open line of communication is imperative to the successful relationship between management and staff, but, notes that management is still the leader and must have the final say on any matter without being necessarily obligated to explain its decisions.
An assessment of my work ethic corroborate that I utilize “the almost democratic” style of management when managing my group. My overall personality characteristics reflect openness. I freely admit to not being knowledgeable in every topic. I welcome, encourage and respect the views of others. I can explain decisions I make without hesitation should they come into question. But, I have no difficultly asserting my role as the manager of my group.
Overall, I believe that a strong work ethic, two-way communications, an innate trust and a shared common goal to succeed are key principles for positive group dynamics. I also strongly acknowledge individual success and outstanding performances as well as the shared success of the group. I believe that when the manager shares his/her success with the whole team the relationship between management and staff is strengthened and enhanced.
The almost democratic style of management has its drawbacks. The line between management and staff can be precarious at times. For example, the staff can develop several creative ideas and suggestions concerning how to improve and increase employee morale. Although some suggestions can and will be taken into consideration and possibly utilized, a contributing member of the team might feel slighted if his or her idea is not adopted. That employee might possibly be offended by the final decision made by management which might result in that employee feeling less motivated.
In conclusion, the theoretical framework of management I have outlined acknowledges the three organizational structures: scientific management or division of labor; human relations movement or people oriented; and, the bureaucratic method where managerial emphasis is placed on policies and procedures to run the organization. Along with these facets an array of management styles have been established and employed by managers throughout time. While the NYCDDC employs the bureaucratic management framework and the directive leadership and partnership styles of management, I follow the same organizational framework, but utilize the “almost democratic” style of management.
However, I also, acknowledge that no manager can agree to use only one style of management at all times. Different situations, different groups of people and different tasks require different management styles at any given time. Deviation from the norm will be necessary for success to be accomplished. But, overall, a manager who tends to stay true to what works best for them and his/her subordinates will be viewed as consistent and reliable. My intentions are, whenever possible, to stay true to myself and my staff.
As defined by Jerald Greenberg and Robert Baron in their book, “Behavior in Organizations,” an organization is “a structured social system consisting of groups and individuals working together to meet some agreed-upon objectives.” (Greenberg & Baron, p.5)
However, an organization is much more complex than what this simplistic definition seems to imply. Because it is a society of persons working together, the internal management of the individual steps necessary to attain the overall goals of the organization and the abilities of the managers and specialized workers are intrinsically linked together in order to determine the success or failure of that organization. The essence of any organization lies within its infrastructure.
The New York City Department of Design and Construction (NYCDDC) was established in 1996, with the objective of providing “design and construction expertise to over 20 City agencies.” (10th Anniversary Magazine Supplement, DDC, 1996, p.1) When originally established and this practice continues to date, the agency is a cultivated agency with the majority of its employees coming from two sister city agencies: the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. (NYCDEP)
The NYC Department of Transportation (NYCDOT): City agency responsible for any work related to bridges and roadways, including the rehabilitation and reconstruction of them. The NYC Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP): City agency responsible for any work related to water mains, storm and sanitary sewers, including the rehabilitation and reconstruction of them. The relationship among these three agencies is that the NYCDDC is the managing agency for the NYCDOT and NYCDEP projects dealing with “design and construction related to roadways, sewers, water mains, correctional and court facilities; cultural institutions; libraries; and other public building, facilities and structures…” (DDC, 2006, p.ii)
The New York City Department of Design and Construction (NYCDDC) employs over 1,200 employees in numerous professions, including architects, engineers, estimators, project managers, communications and community outreach, auditors and outside consultants. The scope of responsibilities of the 1,200 plus employees is divided into two groups: Design and Construction; the Design Staff covers all five boroughs while the Construction Staff is divided into divisions: Infrastructure and Structure Divisions. The Infrastructure and Structure Divisions’ staff are divided into New York City’s five boroughs: Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan. Although, there is an overall leadership team for the agency, each borough consists of a borough director that administers the day to day operations of his/her respective borough.
Although some materials covered in this paper are reflective on the NYCDDC as a whole entity, but, the primary focus will be on the Infrastructure Division.
The NYCDDC headquarters is located in Queens at 30-30 Thomson Avenue, Long Island City, New York, 11101, where it currently occupies four floors – the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th floors.
While there is an overall bureaucratic management structure that governs the agency and because of the physical structure of the agency, various management philosophies are employed at the headquarters location and the satellite or borough offices. Yet these different, but cohesive, philosophies are essential for the successful governance of the agency. For example, there is a directive leadership that governs the overall agency structure, but, also evident is a partnership amongst units such as the Design and the Office of Community Outreach and Notification Units.
Directive leadership is the overall management style of the NYCDDC. Direction and management decisions come from the top and trickle down the organizational chart from management to key supervisory staff. This is internally the same for each unit within the agency and is based on the policies and procedures that must be followed.
For example: each borough has a chain of command that is headed by the Borough Director. He/she directs his/her immediate staff (Deputy Borough Director and Borough level staff) on agency philosophy, key initiatives, changes or additions to current policy as well as what to do and how to perform their duties/tasks. These directives are then passed on to the Engineers-In-Charge, then onto the project support staff.
The Borough Director oversees all projects in his/her borough and provides the consent/approval for most day to day operations. In addition, the borough director also has a chain of command that must be followed. Certain decisions/approvals have to be reviewed by subordinates as they travel up his/her chain of command: Assistant Commissioner, Associate Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, and Commissioner. The numbers of approvals that are required from the members of the hierarchy depend on the scope of the issue.
The Office of Community Outreach and Notification’s (OCON) staff are comprised of the Director, Deputy Director, Citywide Construction Liaisons, Community Board and Small Business Service Liaisons, Executive Assistant and Graphic Artist. They work in tandem with each of the Borough Office’s Staff – Director, Deputy Directory, Engineers-In-Charge, Resident Engineers, Project Liaisons, and Office Management. This direct partnership between the two entities facilitates the exchange of information necessary to keep all individual projects moving forward. This partnership also helps to address and eliminate any and all complaints and concerns of the affected communities where the work will be or is being performed.
The New York City Department of Design and Construction’s (NYCDDC) mission, “To Deliver The City’s Construction Project In A Safe, Expeditious, And Cost-Effective Manner While Maintaining The Highest Degree Of Architectural Engineering, And Construction Quality.”(DDC, 2006, p.i)
With such an overreaching and specific mission statement, all of the organization’s personnel must strive on a daily basis to meet the fundamental goals and objectives set forth by the agency.
A goal is defined define as, “the end toward which effort is directed.” (Goal. 2009) The goals of the NYCDDC are, to build and upgrade the infrastructure and public spaces provided by local government in order to ensure the health, safety as well as the economy of the City of New York.
Objectives are defined as, “something that one’s efforts or actions are intended to attain or accomplish; purpose; goal; target.” (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1995) The objectives of the NYCDDC are, to continue to achieve and maintain excellence in design and construction while adhering to safety and quality standards.
The NYCDDC achieves its goals and objectives by continually recruiting and employing highly trained and certified professionals of all disciplines including engineering, architecture, construction management and administration. (DDC, 2006, p.ii)
Internal Systems: Strengths and Weaknesses
For any organization to succeed it is equally important to provide excellent goods and services to its clients while reviewing and addressing elements its internal infrastructure-the strength and weaknesses of the organization and its personnel.
Human Resources: Paid and Unpaid
The New York City Department of Design and Construction (NYCDDC) currently staffs approximately 1,200 plus paid employees providing skills needed to execute the daily requirements of projects in the design and construction phases in a timely and efficient manner. In addition to its full-time paid personnel, the agency also offers both paid and unpaid summer internships to students in all areas of the agency’s current working environment.
General consensus among workers is they are underpaid and overworked. Employees of NYC agencies are hired under a particular title that comes with an associated salary range. The same rule of thumb applies when employed by the NYCDDC. An employee’s salary is based on the range to which that title has a minimum and maximum amount; if through an employee’s tenure that he or she max out at the range and still in the position hired then he or she will remain at that salary until their unions get involved.
The City’s employee unions attempt to compensate its members with percentage and cost of living raises as contracts are renegotiated. Merit raises are sometimes awarded, although, they are few and far in-between. There are occasions when employees are asked to perform tasks beyond their normal required duties. In these cases grievances are usually filed in order to be compensated for out of title work. Additionally, employees of NYC agencies enjoy good job security as it is rare that city workers are removed from their positions.
Interns at the NYCDDC experience a cross section of the daily tasks performed at the agency. These internships can often result in promoting the desire of a potential engineer or architect, or changing the focus to a completely different specialty or field.
Committees and/or Boards
The New York City Department of Design and Construction (NYCDDC) perform its duties under a chain-of-command organizational chart that clearly delineates the units, ranking of officials and the required approval process. Figure I illustrate the overall chain of command for the agency’s various units and Figure II illustrates the overall chain-of-command for the NYCDDC Infrastructure Division’s OCON unit. (See Appendix for the NYCDDC’s Organizational Charts).
The NYCDDC’s strength lies in the vested time in developing and maintaining its infrastructure so that the agency could meet its goals and requirements without confusion or question of direct authority. However, the agency’s weakness is noted when at times, even in a structured environment, that things can be overlooked or tasks mistakenly believed to be the responsibilities of another department.
Formal And Informal Groups
Several formal groups exist at the New York City Department of Design and Construction (NYCDDC) which enhances the overall environment of the agency. These groups include Design and Construction Procurement Services or the Agency Chief Contracting Officer (ACCO). This group is responsible for “ensuring that the NYCDDC procures goods, services and construction in conformance with City regulations.” (DDC, 2006. p.31) The Project Review Service Unit consists of the agency’s architects and engineers who provide the creativity and oversight of a project in the design stages. The Office of Sustainable Design unit “identifies and implements cost-effective ways to promote greater environmental responsibility in building design.” (DDC, 2006. p.31)
The Research and Development Unit studies “innovative technologies, construction materials, methodologies and management strategies to improve the design and construction of buildings and infrastructure in New York City.” (DDC, 2006, p.31) The Performance Metrics is when the NYCDDC utilizes the “Key Performance Indicator (KPI) program” to process the
“Inter-related databases that maintain information about the agency’s projects, contracts, payments and support functions, as well as a multi-level reporting system which extracts data on critical processes in the agency’s operating divisions and presents it in an easy-to-read, yet comprehensive format.” (DDC, 2006, p.31)
The Quality Assurance and Construction Safety Unit oversees that safety procedure are adhered to in every aspect of the project for all of the agency’s projects. The Geographical Information Services works with and utilizes the Geographic Information System (GIS). This system allows the agency to clearly oversee the project dimensions of all projects locations on an electronic map and allows the agency to appropriate coordinate their work with other entities. The Technical Supports group works prior to the onset of construction.
They conduct investigations, monitor and provide information on “asbestos, lead, and other environmental contaminants…provide research, analyses and survey preparation for property-line, damage and acquisition, new buildings and all roadway, water and sewer projects.” (DDC, 2006, p.31) The Percent for Art Unit works with the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs to integrate arts into a project scope. And, the Peer Review program promotes and enables review and open discussion from the agency’s staff on design issues. (DDC, 2006, p.31)
Whether at the New York City Department of Design and Construction (NYCDDC) headquarter office or at the borough office level, the agency encourages frequent informal group discussions. Among the groups are the lunch groups who meet on a daily basis to discuss socio-political-economical issues and the ethnic groups that celebrate religious and national milestones, etc.
The strength of the NYCDDC lies both in its employees and in the groups listed above. The presence of both the formal and informal groups enhances, strengthens and excites the overall agency culture. The experience of attending these groups helps to encourage and educate all staff members to address the myriad of concerns the agency faces and promotes cultural diversity; this ensures that each employee feels welcome and accepted as part of his/her work environment. This acceptance helps to alleviate employee stress.
As with any organization with such a varied cross-section of personnel, the weaknesses lies in conflicts of many kinds that can occur especially when employees allow personal issues to overrule their professionalism. Therefore, for that organization to be successful it must rely heavily on each individual staff member pulling his/her weight and performing to the best of his/her ability.
The New York City Department of Design and Construction (NYCDDC) provide an array of free public information materials for the communities they serve and educational materials for its employees.
Prior to the onset and for the duration of most projects, the NYCDDC-Office of Community Outreach and Notification (OCON) releases several public information printed resource materials including: Start-Up Advisory Notice which provides essential project information distributed to all affected parties prior to the onset of any project; Project Brochure is the medium used to provide a detailed overview of the project; Bi-Monthly Newsletters provides an update on the project status Work Operation Notices provides all affected parties with work operations that may affect their daily routines including water shut-offs and so forth; Bus Cards are handouts that provides information to affected bus rides if a bus route will be affected because of a project and so forth.
The education materials are designed to provide NYCDDC employees with essential information. Some materials include: Employees Manual which Provides employees with all the essential rules for being a successful employee of the agency; the Design Consultant Guide provides vital information including the goals and objectives on the design phases for all of the agency structures projects; the Design & Construction Excellence: How the City is Improving its Capital Program is a publication that provides a review and explains the policy changes that were implemented and provides information of design and construction projects.
The NYCDDC is a proactive agency that provides the community and its employees with an array of vital information and assistance. This sensitivity illustrates how important the agency values its image and credibility. A major concern is that the information provided to the user is easily accessible, comprehensive and understood by all. A weakness that applies is a manual should be applicable and understanding to all the agency’s personnel rather than a selected group.
Due to its configuration, the New York City Department of Design and Construction (NYCDDC) have both structural and human constraints.
The NYCDDC currently occupies by means of rental, four floors at its current location and has five respective borough offices. This is a costly endeavor for the agency because it has occupancy is five borough offices rather than one.
Human (Political, Relationships)
The NYCDDC currently employees over 1,200 employees in its overall structure. There are some noted political affiliations; for example, the agency’s Commissioner is appointed by the Mayor of the City of New York. More of than not, if an employee can assist in any means to find advance the career of a friend, associate, acquaintance, then that employee will assist in what means he or she can.
There are often scheduling conflicts when planning meetings. These conflicts lead to delays in actions that may need to be taken thus inhibiting the progression of an issue. Additionally, because of the locations of most of the borough offices, traffic and parking are major issues. Because of the five borough offices, more often than not, relationships are formed through emails and telephones. Therefore, personal contact with coworkers is being eradicated at a hasty pace.
Relationship To External Systems
Collaborative Agreement with Outside Agencies on City/ Local State and Federal Levels.
The New York City Department of Design and Construction (NYCDDC) has and maintain collaborative relationships with many municipal entities. These collaborations are essential to the daily operation of the agency’s work flow and for the successful completion of projects. The NYCDDC receives funding from these entities based on the client agency’s annual budget allowances and its specific objectives to be achieved. Accurate accounting is kept of how the monies are spent. There are times when an overrun will occur and additional funds are necessary for the completion of a project; an under-run also can occur when funds remain after the completion of a project.
The municipalities, the NYCDDC collaborates which includes: the NYC Comptroller keeps count of all finances and provides oversight to ensure the proper ethical procedures are being adhered to.
The Borough Presidents and the NYC Council are entities that collaborate with the agency’s project management on issues dealing with land and zoning matters or if these entities funded any project within their borough or district.
The Client Agencies include several external agencies that work with the NYCDDC; these external agencies includes the twenty plus NYC agency clients including: Departments of Children’s Services, Environmental Protection, Parks and Recreation, Transportation and so forth; NYS Office of Court Administration; Office of the Chief Medical Examiner; New York, Queens and Brooklyn Public Libraries, and so forth where the NYCDDC manages the projects from the initial steps in design to the final stages in construction for the projects set forth by these agencies.
The Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget provides the NYCDDC with services ensuring all finance related issues dealing with a project are dealt with properly and without conflicts.
The NYCDOB is the city agency that provides the NYCDDC with any/all necessary and applicable permits for some projects to occur.
The Mayor’s Office of Contract Services ensures that any project bidding operation is done in a fair manner with an open competition amongst contractors providing the opportunity for no conflicts of interest to happen.
The NYCDDC collaborates with the fifty-nine NYC Community Boards to hold public meetings with their constituents when a project is being planned for their community. At these meetings, residents’ are given a presentation about the project and its impact on the community. An open forum follows so that concerns and opinions are addressed.
The Utilities companies – gas, electric, cable and telephone services is a very vital relationship. Clear, proactive cooperation ensures the progression of the project and limits the opportunity for problems surrounding limiting/eliminating services to their constituents.
The NYCDDC’s OCON Unit is a proactive unit that reaches out to affected communities, ameliorates problems and concerns and addresses all public inquiries.
The NYDDC collaborates with the NYC Art Commission to bring approved public arts to the appropriate projects. (DDC, 2006, p.29)
The history, management philosophy, mission, internal and external systems all play vital roles in the structure of any organization. These entities must interact, have a directional flow and coexist with each other for the day to day operations of the organization to proceed smoothly. Since there are times when conflicts arise, it is imperative that such issues be dealt with properly and in an appropriate manner. For example, failure to hire the appropriate personnel can and will lead to the decrease in the services the agency aims to provide to its clients; hence, a decrease in the credibility of not only the employees but the reputation of the agency.
The NYCDDC has a proven reputation for providing excellent goods and services to its clients. Its leadership role in implementing new facets of technologies and its innovative thinking when applying new management models into the agency’s overall infrastructure clearly enhance its ability to accomplish its mission statement.
The Target Service Area
For any business or organization to succeed in providing the professional services it offers, it first must assess, analyze and fully understand the service area(s) and the target audience(s) it hopes to provide its services to. The New York City Department of Design and Construction (NYCDDC) services the five boroughs of New York City by “building and upgrading the City’s infrastructure and public spaces.” ( To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:
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