Contractors operating in the mining sector – a sector defined by teamwork, trust and transparent communication – must organically establish a cogent foundation for partnership throughout the construction process.
To establish this foundation and ensure a positive outcome once the construction process is complete, ‘culture carriers’ must continuously embed the company’s purpose in their fellow workers’ minds, adds business management consultants OIM Consulting MD Arjen de Bruin.
“Culture carriers are those who embody a company’s organisational culture and demonstrate its values, acting as messengers, and often occupying the role of front-line leaders. Culture carriers are influential and inspire others, and thus can be powerful drivers for the company. Additionally, culture carriers can maintain and gain contracts for the construction company.”
This atmosphere of leadership and collaboration from culture carriers ensures that issues and obstacles are avoided or swiftly addressed, and projects are completed on time and within budget, he adds.
The most important aspect in any type of construction is contract workers understanding the goal for the project, the values and principles of the company, and the quality of work required. This understanding arises from the contractors’ organisational culture.
De Bruin cites research by David C. Wilson and Robert H. Rosenfield, published in the book ‘Management Organisation: Text, Readings and Cases’, in 1997, which deduced that culture was the reflection of a collective of people who – through their experiences in the daily work environment – establish a picture of “what the organisation is about”.
As such, the only people who must truly understand and believe in the company’s values are the workers, and the workers can be taught these values only by culture carriers.
De Bruin notes that, as a frontline leader or supervisor in construction, it is empirical to know the company’s mission; however, if this is not fully understood or communicated, the miscommunication, lack of energy, incorrect goals and lack of time management can lead to production losses.
“Frontline leaders might be able to recite what they have been told, but sometimes are unable to articulate how ideals translate into action.”
For example, if respect for others is defined as a company value, and the supervisor fails to see the link between how they treat construction workers and the company’s stated values, they undermine the company’s position and reinforce a negative culture.
Frontline leaders failing to implement their own company strategy, as evidenced by their behaviour, negatively impacts on team engagement.
De Bruin says the first step to achieving a positive outcome in construction is to always clearly define what the company stands for, thereby creating structure and alignment. Supervisors need to be brought into the process and shown how these values translate into day-to-day action and behaviour.
“The energy of mining contractors needs to be focused daily and leaders need to be visible, engaged and continuously carrying the culture of the organisation,” he says, adding that “the more engaged the team, the more effective and efficient the roll-out of daily tasks”.
Creating culture carriers in the construction space will result in higher rates of employee engagement and retention, superior levels of craftsmanship and a stronger commitment to the team and the mission, he adds.
If this is achieved, clear instructions will always be provided, the right equipment will be used, there will always be an emergency response plan, safeguards will be set up, time management will improve, daily tasks will be achieved and the overall goal will be accomplished, De Bruin concludes.