If I mention the term project legacy, what do you think of? A statue? A plaque? Maybe it’s just the evidence of the project itself? But think about if that evidence is firmly buried underground; like upgrading technology and service pipes; and no-one can even see or truly understand the work you did?
Creating a legacy is so much more than the tangible results that are left behind on construction projects. Long after your team has left a project behind, they can (and should) leave a legacy.
Your legacy is created in the everyday behaviours, actions and attitudes of your project manager, the construction team, engineers and of course those charged with engaging your stakeholders.
The behaviours of your construction team are evident and on display every day-it’s why their role in creating a legacy is critical. Their impact is visible and on display at all times-long after the engagement team has headed back to their desk to prepare the next series of notifications and update their stakeholder tracking system.
Construction projects inherently have a major impact on communities even if it is only short-term. Dust, noise, vibration, increased traffic, changed traffic conditions and access issues all form part of any major construction project and have the potential to impact and frustrate your stakeholders.
A project team on the ground has the power to reduce the impact of these frustrations through their behaviour and treatment of residents, business and motorists. When you have the footpath blocked, and an elderly resident or mum with children and shopping in tow get off the bus – does someone from the team down tools and go and help? Or do you passively watch as they struggle around the work site you have created?
Project teams may feel like they have a job to do, but this is a stakeholder’s life, their home and their business; and you are impacting it.
When you have blocked the garbage collector from accessing bins, does the project team start grabbing residents and businesses bins and getting them to the truck for emptying? Better still, have you already identified this as an issue in your planning and have it organised?
Now you have contributed to your legacy with multiple stakeholders and left a lasting legacy as an organisation who doesn’t just talk about engagement – they practice it onsite every day, it’s in their team culture and it’s an expected practice to care about others.
Do you take two minutes and say good morning to passing residents? They will remember your warmth and friendliness before they continue to be upset over the dust you created.
It’s these activities that have the power to shape how stakeholders perceive you, create trust and credibility, and most importantly create your project legacy. Having increased trust and confidence stored at any project is also essential for when you need to ask your stakeholders to forgive you for those inevitable construction delays and “hiccups”!
Great projects leave a legacy of behaviours, attitudes and empathy in a community, even where there is not a visible result, long after the last truck rolls out.