No one ever joined the architectural profession to become a manager - but learning management skills can bring major benefits to your business Architecture is getting more and more competitive, and a number of factors mean that running the office is more challenging.The interrelated approach envisaged by Egan, the ever-growing demands of clients, and increasingly tight budgets and timescales, are all placing great pressures on the profession.Successful practices deal with these challenges by making the right use of all resources; human and technical.
Good management skills make a difference in many areas.They can contribute to better staff performance, more effective multi-disciplinary project teams, lower overall costs, and better service delivery.
Every day, architects exercise a range of skills - communicating with staff, clients or other construction professionals, allocating resources to projects, business planning, taking decisions about whether to accept a project - all involve management, as well as professional expertise.
Personal development If someone reaches associate or partner level, they become responsible for a whole team of architects - for the team's technical work and, in part, for their own or their staff 's professional development.
Usually the new managers are not prepared for this role - the result being a lot of learning the hard way, often through repeating mistakes they should have already learned from experience.
When managers perform poorly, it is not because they have poor skills but because the skills they have are not used to the best effect. But being able to do this is rarely something that people know how to do instinctively: it has to be developed.A combination of experience and some formal learning is essential for people to improve their management skills.
In the AJ 100 survey (AJ 22.3.01) nearly half of all the respondents said their architectural education had been insufficient to prepare them for practice. This is especially acute where management capability is concerned.
No one ever enters the architectural profession to become a manager, and there is little training or development to prepare people for management.
The Part 3 qualification attempts to deal with this aspect, but its success is only partial.Typically, a practitioner picks up their management expertise - if they pick it up at all - as they go along.
Improving skills Experience in dealing with and directing other people is essential for anyone considering taking on a managerial role.But it should be guided by experience.
It is essential to have a clear idea of what you as an individual want to get out of any management development activity. Unfortunately, management tools are often taken up without any real idea of the benefits they can bring.
For example, one architect told us: 'We have an appraisal system, but it doesn't work, mainly because I don't think the senior partners really know what they want to get out of it.'
Despite the gimmicks and the fads, sound management can add significantly to any practice. We believe that the time is long overdue for a debate about the role of management and management training within the profession. As the industry becomes even tighter, this is one area where architects can gain a competitive edge.
Paul Griseri and Brendan Geraghty provide management training and development for architects. Tel 020 8354 7493