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The Coach: ‘My Part 2s aren’t pulling their weight in the office’

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Careers expert Matthew Turner advises an architect whose new Part 2s do not follow instructions

Our practice is very busy, and so we took on two fresh Part 2s, whom I manage. When I explain the work that needs doing, they complain, or don’t follow instructions. Sometimes they can be more effort than help, and I spend more time undoing their work than if I did it myself.

Matthew turner

Matthew turner

I feel for you, but remember the transition from Part 2 to the working world can be difficult. People need to learn and in architecture that often takes place on the job. After years of architectural education, it sometimes can come as a shock that being an architect might involve two months with your head down co-ordinating the ironmongery schedule. 

There is nothing more likely to cause friction than you constantly conveying your disquiet at their abilities

Ultimately the solution comes down to honing your skills in delegation and politely managing your assistants’ expectations. Identify tasks that can be wholly handed over, and keep them away from the things where their involvement would make you nervous. There is nothing more likely to cause friction in your relationship than you constantly conveying your disquiet at their abilities. 

Clear roles also help. Confusion comes through not understanding when they are assisting and when leading. It  is easier to negotiate the former if you define the latter – ‘Look, I know we have this donkey work, but alongside you can do this really interesting work, too.’ 

You need to think in advance of setting tasks. Show them a past example that does what you need; identify where it can be improved or what is different; and offer them the challenge. 

You could also pick a particular relationship (say, with a non-critical supplier) and make this their domain. Attend the meetings, but relinquish control to them. This responsibility might be enough to give pride, ownership and motivation, as well as allowing you to see what they can handle. 

AJ coach Matthew Turner is an architect and careers consultant who runs the Building on Architecture consultancy. To contact him with your questions, tweet @TheAJcoach or email him in confidence at hello@buildingonarchitecture.com 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • As a part 2 myself, I am slightly unusual as I've worked a mixture of full time and part time work through out my education but have been shocked my the rudeness of some of the students coming into the office in the last year. There is no respect for the boss and there seems to be this sense of entitlement.

    I wouldn't dream of complaining about a task my boss gave me unless it really was unreasonable. Its a shame as they won't learn as much and are going to miss out on progressing.

    Again, I strongly believe the architectural education is so far removed from the real world that it isn't really surprising.

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