“Who do you represent?” one of my clients asked me this question at a project steering committee. Probably he expected another answer from me, especially in the place we were at the time, but he asked, I answered, everybody was shocked.
Just before I answered this important question, some other possible answers crossed my mind and I thought every one of them was valid in some way. One of the answers could have been that I represent “The client”, probably the most obvious and probably what he expected to hear, however that’s not necessarily the truth. I pay attention to what my client says, but I don’t always agree with him. For instance, not paying the contractor on time and still expecting the contractor to finish in a timely manner ?? (you know who you are)
My other answer could have been that I represent “The Company” that I work for, this is also true, however I don’t agree in taking sides and defend a position when I know its not the right thing to do (it happens often).
Probably my closest answer would be that I represent “The Project”. I like this answer and I lived by it for several years. I believe that representing the Project enhances collaboration and decision-making rather than own interests of either the client or my employer or any other participant. However this is an incomplete answer, a lot more is put into a project than just contractual obligations. A lot more bigger above any companies interests it’s at stake, such as team work, values and beliefs of every individual that is participating in the project, we know what is written in the contractual documents but equally as important is the unwritten clauses such as collaboration, values, doing what is right even if it plays against your company or the contractual wording.
So who do I represent? I think in a balance way I represent my client, my company, the project, however more than that, I represent “Myself”, my beliefs, my judgment, my ethics put into every project. So that is exactly what I answered back.
I believe if we start looking above the contract terms and into our own set of values, projects will have a lot more collaboration, a lot more teamwork, and thus a lot more success. (Originally published November 20, 2012)
Written by: Damian Piza, Certified Construction Manager, Master in Construction Administration, LEED AP, OSHA +30. Director of PIZA Consulting.