Paragon Group, one of the leading architecture practices in South Africa which is responsible for the success of some of the most well-known projects in the high-end areas of Sandton and Rosebank in Johannesburg, has recently announced a new approach to empowering and motivating its teams: The creation of project pod structures.
Essentially, this seamless approach to forming functional teams involves merging individuals with diverse skills sets and industry knowledge into much smaller groups and heading up each group with a senior Paragon Group staff member. This senior staff member acts as a mentor, while making sure that each project runs smoothly, being careful to pick up on any flaws or challenges before they present a problem for the client.
Once created, each one of these “pods” is allocated to a specific project which is aligned with the pod’s strengths, but also providing the individuals within the pods with plenty of opportunity to grow, further develop their skills and take part in new project experiences.
The end-result is empowered employees who are constantly evolving to meet the challenges of the ever-changing architectural industry, as well as improved service quality and efficiency when it comes to completing projects on time.
The traditional way of organising employees and creating teams would revolve around a senior staff member overseeing a project in a top-down approach, connecting with all the staff members as and when required.
“We found that the traditional approach was not so efficient,” Paragon Group’s senior architectural technologist and pod leader, Taz-Wynne Superman, explains.
“We then came up with another system whereby the more senior staff members are allocated much smaller groups that, in turn, comprise specific skills or experience. The immediate benefit for our clients is that the quality of our work is enhanced, as any design issues can be clarified at a much earlier stage, thereby minimising any rework or liability considerations,” Taz-Wynne points out.
The innovative pod structure, as mentioned, also makes employee skills development a priority, making it easier for them to “move up the ladder” and perhaps become pod mentors themselves sometime in the future. Constant up-skilling is at the forefront of Paragon Group’s new approach.
“A pod can be assigned more than one project of different scopes and sizes, thereby giving all members of that pod a chance to work on different aspects that they would not normally be exposed to,” comments Taz-Wynne.
“We find that the pod structure allows our staff to flourish in what they are best at. Whether your strength is on the technical side, in liaising with clients or in dealing with the design elements, there is a pod for everyone.”
In many ways, each team’s pod acts as an incubator for up-and-coming talent, gently moulding each individual and nurturing their unique strengths through mentorship, guidance, opportunity and hard work.
Paragon Group is the brain behind various large-scale projects including Sasol Place, the new Discovery Head Office, the Alice Lane precinct, 144 Oxford Road and Katherine Towers. Johannesburg, and the rest of South Africa, is undoubtedly excited to see what the architectural big-wig does next with this all-new approach to team management firmly in place.
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