In the field of architecture, it is vital that you keep project owners happy. One way to keep project owners happy is to deliver what you have agreed achieving each step according to the timeline. However, it is difficult to make this happen if each of your team members are not accountable for each of their responsibilities.
In this PowerPoint, we cover:
- What causes poor accountability amongst an architecture team
- The misalignment between your needs and a project owners needs
- How to use the Eisenhower Matrix and the Architecture Matrix to determine where your efforts should be focused in order to increase accountability
- How Priority Matrix helps to increase accountability
The key to being successful in the architecture industry is ensuring that each person in your firm is responsible for the job that they are supposed to be doing. However, this is a lot easier said than done.
We have all experienced that moment where you have placed an assignment on one of your architects desks and weeks have gone by without an update on their progress, or better yet, they have not even started the assignment. This issue occurs when team members are not held accountable for their roles and responsibilities, so as a result, things fall behind or errors occur, which can cause projects to get delayed, and in effect, project owners to be angry.
Therefore, it is essential to learn how to increase accountability in an architecture firm to remedy any potential problems before they become real issues, and to make sure that everybody is on the hook, meaning they know what they are supposed to be working on, they are working on the task to their full potential, and they know when it needs to be done.
In this blog, we describe the best practices for increasing accountability for individuals in your architecture team so that everybody understands not only what they need to contribute to the project’s success, but to unleash your team’s full potential.
Why Does Lack of Accountability Exist?
1. Communication Errors
You know that moment where somebody asks you “are you even listening to me?” and you nod your head and repeat back their last couple of sentences with no issue. Well, you heard exactly what the person had to say, but did you process it? Probably not as much as you were supposed to.
As you probably know, this happens all the time in this industry. You ask one of your employees to do something and they either put it on the back burner, or they do not comprehend it how you expected them to.
Expectations are one of the main areas that are not always communicated as clearly as they should be. Perhaps you tell one of your architects that you need something done with certain guidelines by a specific due date, and when it is done, it is either finished a couple days passed when it was supposed to be done, or it is missing some important criteria. This often occurs because the employee does not understand how important the assignment is, or you and your employee’s expectations about the assignment are misaligned.
2. Lack of Ownership
Lack of Ownership is another key reason why lack of accountability exists, and it actually falls under the realm of disparities in communication.
This can occur when you thought you assigned this person the responsibility and expected that they were working on it, but when you ask them about their progress, you learn that they have made none. Perhaps it was not communicated clearly enough that this was the employee’s assignment.
3. Mismatched Priorities
There are 24 hours in a day, and likely you are not spending all of those 24 hours in the office or on the field because frankly you have numerous other priorities as well such as family, relaxation, maintaining your house, and staying in shape.
In those hours that you spend in the office or on the site, you might find that it is difficult to decide what tasks you should be working on. You might even find that each member of your team has different interpretations about the most important and urgent things that need to get done.
At this point, your resources are stretched too thin, so it is important to get everybody on your team on the same page so that everybody knows what the top priorities are.
Project Owner’s Needs
Maintaining accountability in an architecture firm is so important because without your team staying accountable, your team will not be able to deliver all of the work to the project owners that needs to be delivered.
It is so important to create great relationships with each project owner because without project owners, there would be no work to be done, and you would have no business. However, sometimes project owners think that their project is your number one priority, while in fact, there are multiple projects that are your priority.
While each project should be given equal attention, sometimes it is easiest to focus a majority of your efforts on the project owner who calls you the most demanding updates, information about the project timeline, and wanting to know when the project will be complete.
At this point, it is necessary to not let these constant calls for information from some of these project owners get in the way of the other tasks on your to-do list. This is not saying do not give them the information that they are asking for, but it is saying do not let that call get in the way of what you and your team are working on right now as they are not your only priority.
So, how can you make everybody happy while getting everything done that needs to get done?
The Eisenhower Method
Instead of just listing your items straight onto a to-do list and randomly deciding which ones you are going to focus on, you should spend a couple extra minutes adding your tasks to the Eisenhower Matrix.
The Eisenhower Method helps you divide your to-do list into four quadrants using two criteria:
- Is this task critical, meaning this task is so significant, that if it is not completed there will be consequences?
- Is this task immediate, meaning this task needs to be done now?
As a result, you end up with four quadrants:
- Critical and Immediate
- Critical but not Immediate
- Not Critical but Immediate
This allows you to really see where each of your priorities stand so that you can take action from there to make the best possible decisions about where to focus your efforts, but it also holds you and your team more accountable because you have a visualization of the most important and time sensitive tasks that your team should be concentrating on.
Not only should you use the Eisenhower Matrix to determine which tasks you should work on each day, but you should create an Eisenhower Matrix for each of your team’s projects with each team member. When you incorporate your team in the decision making of where to put the initiatives from each specific project into the Eisenhower Matrix, you will notice that each person becomes more accountable.
Creating Alignment With Your Team
Here is an exercise to help determine which priorities your team should direct attention on.
- Think about the priorities in one of your projects that you are currently working on
- Ask yourself which ones are important, and which ones are urgent, splitting them into the corresponding quadrant of the Eisenhower Matrix
- Have a couple other people from your team do the same thing
- Compare your notes and discuss, determining if your priorities are aligned or misaligned
Once you guys reach a consensus, this will help your team improve the quality of work and get tasks done when they should be done, reducing the risks of tasks not getting completed or any other surprises.
Eisenhower Matrix For Architects
You can also use the Eisenhower Matrix in this format, where we renamed each of the quadrants of the Eisenhower Matrix to make them more suitable for the architecture industry.
This is also divided into four quadrants:
- Fires: Those unexpected tasks that come through the door that did not make up the original project plan. For example, a project owner calls you with an unexpected funding change and wants to change the scope of the project.
- Planned Tasks: These tasks are important and have to be done. Example: The routine schedule that you go through for every project that you have.
- Low Priorities: Things that need to be done, but after you have tackled those fires. Example: Sending a quick check-in email to a project owner
- Inbox: Those important emails and messages
This helps you determine if each item is part of your typical routine, or a high priority item that just came up that needs to be resolved.
Increase Accountability With Priority Matrix
What is Priority Matrix?
Priority Matrix is a quadrant-based priority management software created by Appfluence that helps thousands of customers and teams around the world.
Priority Matrix improves efficiency and organization by helping users align their priorities to accomplish their goals while making sure nothing slips through the cracks.
How does Priority Matrix help architecture firms?
Priority Matrix helps Principal Architects, Project Managers and their teams:
- Improve visibility, allowing everybody to see what each person is working on, and who has too much on their plate
- Track status of each task, allowing everybody to see the big picture
- Easily share updates with clients
- Keep track of the latest priorities, making sure that nothing important is forgotten
- Helps you get back to the work you love
Priority Matrix Features Architect’s Love
- Task Delegation: Assign your team member’s tasks and everybody can see who is working on what to reduce the issue of lack of ownership
- Priority Level: Each team member knows which items are high priority by looking at which quadrant it is in
- Due Dates: You can set due dates in Priority Matrix with the click of a button
- Everything In One Place: Add notes, files, and screenshots to each task
- In-App Chat: Allows for clarification, communicating expectations, and reducing any miscommunication
- Progress Bars: Track the progress of each task by sliding the progress bar from 0-100 to make sure work is getting complete
- Master List: Pulls information from all of your projects into one centralized place
- Gantt Charts: Helps you to visualize project timelines and send “read-only” view Gantt Charts to project owners to prevent calls from owners asking for updates
Integration with Outlook
Priority Matrix provides email integrations with Outlook so you can get your emails into your Inbox quadrant of the Eisenhower Matrix. It is as easy as dragging and dropping your emails into Priority Matrix – when you do this, the subject line will be the name of the task, and the body of the email will be in the notes section. This way, your email is in the project it belongs to, and you can even delegate it to a team member or set a due date on it (usually these go in the inbox quadrant).
In addition, you will not have to worry about files being too large to send through email or having to get your files onto Dropbox; you can send large files to team members and to external communicators, like project owners via Outlook.
You can also set up automatic forwarding of emails into projects!
Architecture Firms Using Priority Matrix
We have many architecture firms who use Priority Matrix – one is Optima Web. Ever since they have started using Priority Matrix, they have saved 20-30 minutes in each of their meetings because instead of spending time determining what needs to be spoken about at their meetings, they just open Priority Matrix to guide their meetings and to determine any mis-alignments within their team. As a result, this helps each team member remain more accountable.
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