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Hawkins’ Project Excellence group of 2018 – six members are from key subcontractors

Hawkins – collaboration is the future of construction

A successful building project requires everyone involved to work together to the same high standards, but how do you make that happen when you’re managing your own site team as well as multiple subcontractors?

For the first time this year, Hawkins has taken a collaborative approach to the training it offers to its project delivery teams. Instead of just making the Project Excellence training programme available to its employees, Hawkins has invited its subcontractors to get onboard too. The programme showcases best practice, focusing on areas such as communication, lean construction and risk management.

“We are trying to create a more collaborative working relationship, where everyone onsite is working to the same core principles,” Hawkins executive general manager Gary Walker says.

Hawkins executive general manager Gary Walker: “We are trying to create a more collaborative working relationship, where everyone onsite is working to the same core principles”

“Over the past three years we’ve put 150 Hawkins employees through this programme, and this year there are another 30 people involved. Six of those are our key subcontractors who have taken up this professional development opportunity,” Mr Walker says.

“Smaller companies don’t necessarily have the resources to put on training programmes for their people. This gives our subcontractors the opportunity to upskill their teams so that we can deliver better projects together.”

Learning something new

One of this year’s participants is Terry Lawler, a project manager at Allendale Electrical. “In every module, we are learning something new, and find we want to adapt the way we do things,” he says. “It has made me think about the processes that we use to put a site team together, and being deliberate about choosing people with individual strengths that complement each other.

“We also have a renewed focus on identifying the risks of a job – not just at the commencement of a contract, but also at tender time – and the easy steps that can be taken to identify and reduce those risks,” Mr Lawler adds.

“At the start of the course we were placed into teams, and these are the people that you work with for the duration of the programme. We needed to establish good communication skills as team members were based all over the country.

“This type of collaboration goes a long way to breaking down the ‘us and them’ type of thinking that is experienced so often on sites. It helps the main contractor and subcontractor to come together as a team to achieve a result, which would have benefits for all involved.”

Inside knowledge

Fellow participant Paul O’Callaghan of Numecon agrees. “It gives the subcontractor inside knowledge on how the main contractor is thinking and now vice versa. It also builds a relationship between us and Hawkins. Collaboration – rather than competition – is the future of construction,” he says.

Aquaheat’s regional general manager Brett Laurent says his staff appreciate the opportunity to be part of Project Excellence. “Mechanical services by its nature is multidiscipline, so as a subcontractor we face many of the same challenges facing a main contractor. It is important to invest in staff training to develop the skills they need to perform their roles to a high standard in the challenging, technical and fast-paced environment which is modern construction,” Mr Laurent says.

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