Collaboration To Grow Our People & Deliver Better Construction Outcomes
March 7, 2019 by Sarah in Our Values
With Steve Blackmore, Senior Site Manager
Potential employees and clients frequently want to know, what’s the culture like at Sarah Constructions? “Honestly, when I first joined,” says Steve Blackmore, Senior Site Manager at Sarah Constructions “I thought it would be the same as at any other construction firm — where there is talk about a culture that didn’t always match the daily reality.” At Sarah, he insists, it’s different.
Our people pride themselves on working together collaboratively; with our colleagues, clients and contractors. It should come as no surprise that we believe collaboration drives success is one of our core business values. But what is surprising, says Steve, is how deeply that value runs throughout the whole company culture.
“It’s much more team orientated here than at other construction companies. There’s lots of support and everyone works together; there’s never too much of a burden on one person’s shoulders.”
Collaborating Internally To Nurture Staff And Develop Skills
Most companies promote the idea that they have an “open door” policy. But at Sarah, management delivers on this promise. And it starts at the top. Adrian Esplin, Chief Executive Officer, is a driving force behind the open, collaborative approach that permeates throughout Sarah Constructions.
“When you have an infectious leader like Adrian, it filters down,” explains Steve. “I feel totally comfortable to talk to management about anything here. That’s different to other places I’ve worked. No matter what your title, everyone at Sarah is treated as an equal. We all matter. And everyone is willing to share their knowledge to help others.”
This knowledge sharing is a core component of Sarah’s collaborative approach. Staff members, subcontractors, consultants and clients are all encouraged to share their expertise, so that there’s greater success for everyone. However, it’s not just about creating an environment that’s conducive to sharing. For those with less experience, it’s also important they feel able to ask when they don’t know the answer. “At Sarah, there are no stupid questions”, says Steve.
“If someone doesn’t know something, they ask someone else. It’s about the team putting their heads together to come up with a solution.” In fact, at Sarah, learning is part of daily life. With a workforce of over 150 people, with an average age of 38, this focus on collaboration has created a thriving company culture of continuous professional development, career growth and opportunity.
“There’s been massive growth at Sarah since I started,” says Steve, “but the culture is strong because we’re hiring the right people. Then we invest in our people, so they’re taught the way we do things. The ones that are willing to learn thrive in this environment.”
Collaboration On Site To Deliver The Best Outcomes For Clients
Steve was a senior member of the team of 11 that worked on the Sarah Constructions $52 million Carmelite project. Of course, such a high profile job with 210 on-site workers presented various complex challenges. Through a focused team effort, the high quality project was completed ahead of schedule. It stands out to Steve as a perfect example of we believe collaboration drives success — in action.
“Carmelite was a daunting job for many. As the most experienced person on the team, I spent a lot of my time mentoring others. So in effect, instead of just one person on the project with my knowledge and experience, there were many.
“It was a long project with a lot of collaboration internally and externally, plus considerable input and problem-solving with the architects. What was really satisfying for me was seeing the younger members of the team grow and develop throughout the program. By the end of the job these guys were confidently running their own site meetings.”
It’s not only Sarah employees and clients that benefit from this collaborative approach. Everybody involved in a project gets the chance to learn and improve as a result. For example, subcontractors on the Carmelite project were upskilled by working through the detailed problem-solving approach with Sarah.
Personal Reflection On Collaboration
For Steve, collaboration isn’t just a buzzword. It’s something tangible that improves his work environment and facilitates his career success.
“I couldn’t do this job without collaboration. Sharing knowledge and experience is more rewarding for me now than the construction process alone. It’s about recognising and celebrating the team effort, and watching the younger generation develop into fantastically talented, skilled professionals.”
At the end of the day, collaboration is a business necessity, not a nice-to-have. It’s not just about making everyone feel good and growing their skillsets, it’s about open communication in order to get the job done.
“Unless you have open communications with all players on the job, you can’t build,” states Steve. “You’re always going to get road blocks, so you need to work through them constructively as a team to find solutions so you can keep building. If you don’t resolve issues and avoid work stoppages, everyone loses money and nobody wins. Collaboration really is the smartest approach for everyone.”
At Sarah, collaboration means open communication and teamwork to deliver the best construction outcomes. We share our knowledge and experience, nurturing talent to improve our people — our most precious resource.