Human resources – Architectural organization

Posted by mashrabiya | Posted in | Posted on 12:49 AM


Employment

Main objective is to hire the right person for the right job. Upon the employment of a staff that have agreed and accept the letter of appointment, they should be a certain period of induction course. This is important to make sure the new staff is given a brief idea on how the organization works, objectives and office manual and operation procedures. Some major companies such as Petronas, TNB may have a week or 2 just for the induction course. New staff should be taught about time management as well as it is the most essential aspect in professionalism. Some offices impose a law of deducting salary for late comers without strong justifications which in my opinion is a reasonable thing to do. The employee should realize about responsibility towards the employer and discipline. To summarize, the organization should have an office manual to be read and understand by a new staff.
For architectural firm, there should be a proper system in dealing with printing documents especially a wide format printing. Some companies have printing department where person who wanted to print out have to fill in a form as a record. In my opinion, this is a good practice as it controls the amounts of error printing and cost wise although it may seems tedious. I have seen the case of a printing of 20 copies of AO drawing that in the end have to be thrown due to error that have been mischecked, to add the pain all in coloured. This mistakes or negligence can cause a fortune.
Consumption, recycle, waste, reuse or whatever you call it should be engraved as part of induction course modul. Program them to get used to reminder such as use recycle paper for draft printing, switch off unused PC, lights, AC, battery charger and other electrical appliances. It may not cost as much as few hundred and thousand per month for a small firm but for a huge corporate organization, it may cost a lot. Shouldn’t we concern about green building practices and sustainability. The point is to set the new staff straight and educate them to have sensitivity and sense of responsibility towards company vision and mission. Hiring incompetent person for the job may bring a disaster especially in construction where timing is crucial. 6 month or 3 month probation period should be enough to determine the capability the staff. Take necessary action if the staff does not meet the expectation whether to transfer to other section which their skills suits them or the last choice to terminate them with proper notice base on labour law.

Training

Training is a process of developing skills, knowledge, capability in order to enhance self capacity to perform job. In architectural field, it may be divided into several types such as design skill, technical skills, presentation skills and management skills. The company should have a mission to be an educational oriented and R&D firm. It not only benefited the staff but the company as well as the good resources developed by the company can be the assets. Fresh graduate architect should be given a chance to involve and explore all stages of architectural services from designing to handing over of the building. Being in the big firm may have wider advantages in exposure to various kinds of projects from housing, mix development, high rise, commercial and educational complexes. However, it depends on the company’s policy as well. Some company just divides the team into design department or construction department in which the staff will involve and be specialist in one specific area only. In my opinion, the staff should be given the opportunity to expand himself and from that we can make judgement on what they are capable of or have more interest in. This is what I call potential development. The training of the staff could be achieved from team grouping and mentoring scheme. Staffs are divided into several teams and they will compete and produce the same design. However, the competition should be approached in a healthy way of having a few alternative and idea sharing. Critique session between groups may help each other to make the design better. Good value and ‘adab’ of giving critiques also should be imposed as without proper control it may lead to ill feeling and heart broken. In a group should have senior and junior members mixed up together. If the office have the record of the staff performance, it’s better to mix up them in order to encourage each other. With one senior management as a mentor, the group can act as an entity that function to help each other and the mentor is the one who encourage and boost motivation. 
Besides that, the spiritual aspect should been train as well. It helps to produce good staff/workers with the strong belief that what they do / the job is part of their responsibility and should not be taken lightly and carelessly. This is where the function of religion and belief is essential in the working environment. A part of training that in my opinion should be developed is Research and Development (R&D). To ensure that all the information and resources that we got through every process been documented, recorded, evaluate and create a mainframe for further research and study. For example, all material samples received should be kept properly, tagged and documented for future reference. The library with hands full of reference is also apart of R&D. The company may experiment on various building materials and produce analytical report to support the findings. These findings and research may strengthen the design intent. Question such as what materials, why that material, which is economical, aesthetically point of view should been ask and elaborate. The training of the staff is a process of give and take from the company for mutual benefit. It is satisfying if people recognize your company for having or producing enthusiastic and competent staff. Some company even sponsored the staff to further their studies in certain field which will benefit the company. With certain term and condition that the staff has to bind an employment contract with the company after graduation, it is for future investment. 

Evaluation

Working environment cannot be separated from performance as it is the key for the company success. It is not something new in big corporation where the staff performance will be reviewed annually or monthly. The evaluation / appraisal are some kind of motivation for the staff to be better, to improve and to develop in their career. The reward could be in term of bonus together with letter of appreciation, present/gift, rank promotion or to some extend shares of the company. In order for the company to evaluate, there should have a performance record system. However the flaw in this system which was created by man itself are bias evaluation, evaluation base on preference/favourite and bribery. That is why it is important for the company to establish professionalism and work ethics among the staff. For Muslims, we do know that working can be part of ‘ibadah’ if we do it for the sake of Allah’s ……and we fulfill our responsibility by giving the best effort as possible. To the assessor, it is in your hand that the staff will be better or the other way around.  
After the appraisal, there should be a session for individual meeting between the management and the personnel to explain, get feed back, motivational input on the appraisal review. It is for the staff to get the idea on what he should improve, for him to express any dissatisfaction towards the company or merely to give encouragement and appreciation of their hard work. This session will be beneficial to both the office and the personnel by highlighting the area need to be improved besides developing the sense of caring upon the staff.

Motivation

One aspect to determine the company’s survival is staff’s motivation. Besides bonuses and promotion, there are a lot can be done to boost the staff’s morale. The management may create several groups of committees among the staff. For example, Sports and recreation committee. Organizing games among staff and their families will tie a strong relationship between the organization and the personnel. The activities may be organized on weekly or monthly basis depending on the participants. Who knows, they may among those talented sportsman which can be office representative to compete in tournaments bearing the office/organization flag. I remember somebody told me they do have inter firm sports event back in 90’s. Or they can conduct a proper programmed activity such as Family Day on annual basis. Family involvement in the company is important as it give the impression that the company care about their staff fully. It also develops sense of trust among the family that they will allow and support the staff in work matter. For example, they will allow the staff to stay back late at night for submission. 
Some companies also organize an annual trip to interesting places be it in Malaysia or abroad. This is the contribution package by the company for a year of hard work. Other than that, the celebration in the office is a good means to ease stress a bit. They can have a birthday celebration once a month for any person whose birthday in that particular month. Other cultural celebration also may be organized to show respects to the staffs related. Normally, they may have a celebration of main big festival such as Hari raya Aidilfitri, Chinese New Year, Deepavali and Cristmas depending on the multi ethnic staff that the company has. 

Welfare

Some of the welfare issue does include in the employment contract, terms and conditions such as annual leave, maternity leave, health insurance, medical benefits, family benefits and so on. I would like to discuss on other things which are commonly not written in the contract. As for companies that have Muslim as their staff, I would like to suggest them to provide a space for pray or mini ‘surau’ which adequate to cater for congregational prayer both for male and female. It would be best if the space is within the office area. It may seems too much if the building itself have their own praying area .However it may effect the working hour of the staff if the distance is far and who knows how long it would take if the praying session is add up with smoking and chit chatting session. By having a paying area in the office, it can be a place to conduct religious talk to strengthen the spiritual aspect of the personnel. Strong spiritual belief result to good working ethics which contributes to productivity as Islam encourages us to strive for the best. 
As human being, we are not free from mistakes and problems. Due to that nature, it is good if the companies has the counseling committee or have anybody who is capable to listen to others problems. This is important if the problem affect the staff performance. By having the problem acknowledge by the management, some counter measure may be taken to ease the burden of the staff involved. This matter has to be carefully taken care of as once that been trusted as a councilor should not reveal the problems to others/ethic of councilor. 

To conclude, this is all matter to develop love and responsibility for the company. With love, the staff will do the work diligently and sincerely thinking that the successful and failure of the company is shared and felt by them as well.


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