Construction Partnering
Building and Nurturing Your Construction Project Team

Virginia SWaM Certification # 807436 as a Small Business

Our Services
Partnering Your Project to Success
Project Partnering

Partnering is a crucial piece of running a successful construction project with as little discord, dissention or disruption as humanly possible. The most successful construction projects have, at their core, a high performing team of people who are all “pulling” in the same direction.

Best Practice
It is likely you have been on one or two such teams in your career.  By instituting Partnering as we use it, your next, or current, construction project would have a better chance of being on your short list of outstanding projects.
Partnering incorporates a host of best practices for managing successful projects and systematically applies them to your project to build teamwork, alignment, commitment and productive behaviors.

It is Voluntary
A note of caution: this only works if you want it to work! The process includes creating: a new set of “norms”; goals; and a process to improve understanding and cooperation.

Offsite Sessions
This is best done at a location away from the distractions of the office and/or jobsite using the services of a professional facilitator and a designated Partnering Champion from each organization.

This teambuilding approach uses a focus on the project and its issues rather than non-specific team exercises.   The model we use for Partnering is generic in that it is used in a variety of settings. (e.g. IT Industry, Construction Industry, strategic alliances, etc).

"Charles Markert is the most effective partnering facilitator I have seen through my 35-year career in both Federal and private sector construction."
     -Hans Probst, PE, Chief, Reserve Branch, Construction Division, USACE, Louisville, KY

“Charles Markert stepped into support our partnership midstream and was immediately value added and we intend to continue his services in the future.”
      -Jeremiah Manning, Project Delivery Team, KY Lock Addition, USACE

The benefits of partnering are primarily improved communications and collaboration.  Federal Agencies that have used this have saved hundreds of millions of dollars in litigation costs by preventing disagreements in the first place. 

Common Interests
It is always a challenge to achieve success when each organization has its own set of special interests.  It is often a revelation to discover how many of those interests are commonly held by all parties.  Discovering this lays the foundation for true teamwork which otherwise seldom happens.

Spirit of Partnering
It is our belief that Partnering embodies the spirit of teamwork and should be an integral part of project management.  While all the elements of partnering are found in project management, they are not often put together adequately enough to really be effective.

What Next?

We are willing to discuss our partnering services with you and/or your executive team to determine how we might assist your success. 
Enterprise Partnering
Partnering across an enterprise (Departments/Divisions) that depends upon cooperative and collaborative interactions in order to be successful and not sidetracked by personal interests that cause conflict.
Process Mapping
Documenting the flow, interactions and definitions of any process needing improvement or just documention.
Strategic Planning
Team Based planning for the collaborative future of a successful organization. Getting all participants into the same mindset and appreciation of what needs to be accomplished.
This mindmap shows the venues of events we facilitate for clients.
Facilitated Negotiation
Achieve agreement with Facilitated Negotiation. Only do this if you want to avoid hidden agenda game playing and if you want the best possible solution that is win-win given the realities of the situation in question.
  1. Why Partnering?
    Partnering, when done properly causes people in the participating organizations to look out for the organizations’ best interest and are happy to do it, while insisting on working together, happily creating better solutions to the inevitable problems. Management best practices actually work when they are launched in a culture where communications flow easily..
  2. The Partnering Essence
    Partnering is the tool, technique, process, and philosophy, which enable cooperation and collaboration to occur. The extent to which it occurs is up to the leadership. How long it lasts is also up to the leadership.
  3. Adopting Partnering
    The elements of Partnering are neither new nor unique. Partnering in the construction industry has been widely adopted for federal and state construction projects. It has begun to be accepted in the information technology industry and a few other industries. Partnering is touted as being practiced throughout the entire business sector, but is typically not a formalized approach as recommended herein.
  4. Construction Partnering Defined
    A wide variety of definitions exist for Partnering. The basic definition of generic Partnering used here is from the Construction Industry Institute, In Search of Partnering Excellence, 1991, which states: “Partnering is a long term commitment between two or more organizations for the purpose of achieving specific business objectives by maximizing the effectiveness of each participant’s resources.”
  5. Contract Not Changed
    Project partnering is used when all parties to a contract desire to use this process to better ensure the project success. It does not change the terms of the contract, only the behavior of all parties to the contract.
  6. Enterprise Partnering
    Enterprise Partnering is conducted between multiple internal entities (sections, branches, divisions, or departments) of an organization. It is also used in supply chains. This process uses the same generic process with a couple of minor twists to better tailor it to an environment that does not have a formal contract to define the mission.
  7. Our Service Includes
    Design the Partnering Charter Workshop Agenda with your input, facilitate the Initial charter workshop and any follow-on workshops requested, deliver a partnering report capturing the products of the workshops,and conduct a follow-up debrief as requested.
  8. What is Partnering All About?
    It is important to define Partnering because most of the time, when Partnering is said to be used, it may mean people simply working together or it may mean a legal partnership. At the core of Partnering is alignment of purpose, team behavior and a focus on problem solution & prevention. The structure of the approach opens doors and promotes cooperation that might have only occurred through individual initiative in spite of the organization, not because of it. The vast untapped discretionary energy & potential of those who do the work can be unleashed only by providing the opportunity for their internal self-motivation. The old adage that motivation is an inside job is true. All employees have the choice of doing just enough to get by or doing more than ever expected. Partnering unlocks this potential because there is something in it for everyone. Use an independent third party partnering facilitator to conduct the major sessions on a regular basis. The facilitator can be internal to some other part of your organization or contracted for on retainer or other means. Without an independent facilitator, your meetings will be business as usual. Partnering requires participation of all levels within the organization involved. An initial planning session of a few hours with the leadership team, including the Champions, is followed by a 1 or 2 day session (offsite) with the key players from all organizations participating. The Partnering team builds a non-binding agreement called a Partnering Charter that they sign and commit to for the life of the project. Real issues can then identified using surveys, brainstorming and the ‘gets & gives’ approach. Teams are launched to deal with selected real or potential problems. A peer ladder is developed to resolve issues. A feedback/assessment process is designed. The implementation plan is developed to include monthly or quarterly facilitated follow-up sessions. These sessions address both the progress on issues/problems/goals as well as an assessment of how well the Partnering Charter is being followed. The process is complimented by whatever additional tools the facilitator can provide. The Leadership team and the facilitators tailor each session to focus on what is needed most by the team and the organization. The best approach, and most attractive to managers, is for an organization to get its internal act together first with a few sessions and then to venture outward to conduct Partnering sessions with their primary stakeholders or contractors. As an example, the ship operations department may do Partnering with the finance and acquisition departments, all of whom can, and do, benefit from improved communications and better working relationships. It may also be wise to conduct partnering sessions between HQ and Regions. Partnering is not a panacea but it has proven to produce better results, more good will and fewer frustrations than happens when it is not used. The organization could be performing as well as all the management books say they could. Those books generally do not provide specific tools to use. You cannot build your home without the proper tools. Contact Charles Markert, PE, CPF at 540-338-1255 to arrange and facilitate your Partnering Experience.
  9. Beyond the Handshake
    Behaving in the Partnering Spirit goes beyond the contract, beyond the handshake and to a promise of behaving in a manner that helps the other party be successful. This is what prevents litigation and claims.
Seven Principles of Partnering
By Charles Markert
1. Align Everyone
2. Selflessly Contribute
3. Be Trustworthy
4. Communicate Every Which Way and Often
5. Empower People
6. Synergize To Maximize Brainpower and Energy
7. Celebrate Often and Well

1. Align Everyone
Alignment of everyone on the team, and supporting organizations, is crucial to a true results-oriented team effort.
When we know where we are going and where we’ve been, we have a better chance to achieve our aim.  Mutual agreement on the endeavor’s vision, goals and guiding principles is paramount to successful Partnering.  Mutual and clear expectations are the fuel of accomplishment.  Expectations of teamwork behaviors and project outcomes need to be clearly stated and frequently revisited.

2. Selflessly Contribute
A person’s ego can help or hinder the efforts of the team.
The ego that drives one to contribute whatever it takes to ensure the endeavor succeeds, is useful and to be encouraged.  However, the ego that requires credit for everything one does, prevents team building.  That ego that engenders the feeling that I am better than you and you had better listen to me and do it my way is nothing short of destructive.

3. Be Trustworthy
Playing nice together engenders trust, sharing and a greater sense of belonging to the endeavor.
Trust is earned, not demanded.  Being trustworthy is the prerequisite to earning trust.  Sharing of ideas that can solve problems, save money and/or improve the outcome can help trust to be earned yet most often occurs only after trust is established.

Our basic human response is to seek pleasure and avoid pain.  People would rather enjoy than dread an experience.  People want to do good and have accomplishments of which they can be proud. We will do great things, given the opportunity.

It is better to prevent a dispute than be forced into an actual dispute.  This obvious common sense philosophy is not so common after all.  There are many hidden agendas that prevent prevention and destroy trust.  It is essential to become aware of these hidden motives and deal with them.

4. Communicate Every Which Way And Often
Communication is necessary and helpful to the team and imperative to the production of quality results. 
The meager attempts organizations make to communicate are but lip service compared to the communication that occurs in a successfully partnered endeavor.  Unless and until abundant communications is integrated into the business process, it will not be adequate.  Regular feedback and resulting action regarding project and Partnering performance is necessary to ‘keep Partnering alive’.

5. Empower People
People empowered to do the job will get more done than those who are not.
Those who are micromanaged and given little control over their world of work will have checked their brains at the door of the workplace and delight in watching the organization make stupid decisions. Those who are empowered will help the organization make better decisions. Human nature rules. 

6. Synergize To Maximize Brainpower And Energy
The synergy available from a teamwork culture can be awesome.
Those who are encouraged to consult with other team members will make better decisions.  Problems solved and issues resolved in team meetings will be adopted faster and last longer than those made by individuals in the vacuum of individual perceptions and personal paradigms.

Opportunity either happens by serendipity or you can make it happen.  Partnering ‘legalizes’ the proactive approach by encouraging continual issue identification and problem solving by everyone.  Having open and honest discussions aids in the search, discovery and prevention of potential problems and the resolution of actual problems.

7.     Celebrate Often And Well
Recognition and reward is essential to personal motivation. 
Recognition for what was accomplished often needs to be nothing more than a ‘thank you’ in private and/or public.  Tangible rewards, where possible, are fine when properly shared.  Rewarding the team as a whole is much better than only rewarding the team member who worked as an individual.