Giving your team the opportunity to step up

By Ben Goode, LSI Architects
It’s not unusual to be facing challenges or uncertainty in our industry, but I don’t think anybody would have believed in our lifetimes we’d be facing the extraordinary circumstances we’ve lived through over the past year.
Published in Norfolk Director Magazine Spring 2021
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LSI Architects: Life Touching Design

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the approach of the board at LSI Architects has been to avoid the natural temptation to speculate on the global impact of the pandemic, and look instead to keep things on-track, working firmly in the present. By clearly communicating our business continuity plan and focusing on the tools we have available to us right now, we have found a path, taking it step-by-step, without becoming overwhelmed.

The schedule of virtual meetings, without the valuable unstructured pauses or thinking time that travelling provided, and the tireless and selfless work that has been required of us as directors to protect the business, can naturally lead to feelings of fatigue and monotony, which can quickly become habitual if not addressed.

Our priority as directors since the pandemic began has been to reassure our clients that our business will continue to provide the same high level of service that is expected. And, as those demands on our time have increased, there has been a need for others in the team to step up to support the many different components that make up our strategy, which we believe will see us continue to be a successful and productive business.

For example, we rely on our resourcing team to deploy the right people, with the right skills, capacity and experience, to deliver our commissions to the highest standards. They have done an exceptional job in making sure we’ve been responding to ever changing needs on a daily basis.

Yet, as directors what are the things we’ve learned about culture during this time?

Make sure the structure of the business is right

We’ve had to ensure that our structure is fit for purpose and that has meant creating more specific and defined areas of responsibility and job descriptions that reflected our roles.

Individuals in our team are now held responsible for each component of our strategy. While the accountability ultimately still lies with a director, it has allowed us to open up this aspect of our business beyond solely the directors to develop leadership skills in others.

Developing the operational side of the business has resulted in more challenges being met and opportunities to improve being captured; things that could have been missed during the pandemic when the demands on a directors’ time are extensive.

Take the right steps to unlock leadership potential

As directors, we set the culture of the organisation and our most important role is to create a sense of purpose, belonging and shared values. Our aim has been to provide a safe, open and honest environment for employees; so important for successfully releasing people’s leadership potential and fostering a culture of creativity, resourcefulness and resilience.

We view leadership as the art of unlocking positive change and one way we have sought to develop it throughout our practice is by providing opportunities to learn and develop techniques for giving and receiving feedback and building confidence for them to do so. Likewise, our work to build our people’s understanding of both mental health and wellbeing and our culture of openness and honesty, is now more evident within the practice. This, we think, results in us grasping those opportunities to unlock positive change more often,

Our values have been central to this because they not only inform our point of view, shape our culture and guide our decision-making processes, but even influence our recruitment choices. 

Our Investors in People survey response when asked: “My organisation has clear values” had an agree rating of 98%. When viewed alongside the statement: “My behaviour reflects the organisation’s values” achieving a 100% rating, this demonstrates people within our team are personally motivated to behave in line with our values.

Invest in your team

We’re on a mission to become the best employer in the construction industry. We think that happy, healthy, highly skilled and highly motivated people are more able to fulfil their potential, both individually and collectively.

We believe that small, regular investments in people are far more beneficial to both parties than larger but irregular interventions, and so our 1:1’s are designed to be just that, small regular investments that support people’s performance, development and wellbeing.

Not only does this mean a stronger relationship can develop and a better understanding of the individual’s needs, but it also means that people are much more likely to achieve their objectives and meet the expectations the business might have of them.

Ben Goode is Director at LSI Architects. For more information T: 01603 660711 E: norwich@lsiarchitects.co.uk or visit lsiarchitects.co.uk

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