Engineers ethical responsibility during construction
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Engineers’ Ethical Responsibility during Construction. William M. Rodwick PE, BSCE, MPA Continuing Education Consultant Rev 0, 3/13. Present the responsibility for ethical behavior that Engineers have during design & construction of facilities for the Public

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Engineers’ Ethical Responsibility during Construction

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Engineers ethical responsibility during construction

Engineers’ Ethical Responsibility during Construction

William M. Rodwick PE, BSCE, MPA

Continuing Education Consultant

Rev 0, 3/13


Objective

Present the responsibility for ethical behavior that Engineers have during design & construction of facilities for the Public

Derives from the engineer’s fiduciary position to ensure the Public’s safety & welfare, as Constructor or Overseer of Construction

Objective


Definitions

Ethics

– study of standards of right and wrong

– philosophy dealing w moral conduct, duty & judgment when dealing w others

Morality: choices that help or hurt others

Fiduciary

–holding a trust & being legally responsible for others, or property

– value: depends on public trust & confidence

Definitions


Nspe s code of ethics

PEs must commit to using their technical skills & knowledge for the betterment of society

Protecting the Public isn’t always making decisions w life or death consequences

Protecting the Public welfare: safeguard the well-being & quality of life in our communities …+ safety & health

NSPE’s Code of Ethics


Ethical responsibility in construction oversight

You are the agent of the Owner

Responsible to exercise reasonable levels of care (not highest)…

…Usually exercised by your professional peers under similar circumstances

Ethical Responsibility in Construction Oversight


Standards of expected performance of an ethical cm

Know what an ethical business relationship with a contractor is &…

Be able to monitor it & manage it

Know how to make timely, ethical, defendable decisions & gain support for them, to get the job done (even if risky)

Know how to hire & develop decision-makers

Standards of Expected Performance of an Ethical CM:


Standards of expected performance of an ethical cm1

The Engineering Manager’s ethical responsibility includes doing the right thing toward all those (s)he comes in contact with

That includes the Contractor, the Owner, and the office/ field staff… besides the “Public”

Your people are part of the “Public”

Standards of Expected Performance of an Ethical CM:


Methods of achieving these standards

METHODS OF ACHIEVING THESE STANDARDS


Ethical business relationship

Composed of mutual integrity, i.e. of being honest, fair & reasonable & keeping your word

Friendship is not an objective…

Only mutual respect

Start with an open & positive attitude

Clear away the bureaucratic obstacles

Ethical Business Relationship


Ethical business relationship1

Proactively seek to help the contractor be successful by:

Looking ahead for contractual & technical areas of danger, sensitivity & opportunity

hidden in Owner’s system of operation

Expect a reciprocal attitude in return

Ethical Business Relationship


Ethical business relationship2

Let Contractor set the rules for the relationship

Look for integrity

If this isn’t forthcoming, provide instruction

The 2 organizations are joined contractually

It would take major efforts to separate them

Can be done thru termination for cause …with sufficient documentation

Ethical Business Relationship


Ethical business relationship3

Be forthright in expressing feelings & concerns

Develop trust: verbally inform Contractor of displeasure, anger, etc., as soon as the issue comes to your attention

Also true about an anticipated issue

And is a method of teaching, if that is necessary

Ethical Business Relationship


Ethical business relationship4

Express feelings & consequences to you & the job because of the action or inaction

Do not blame or characterize the Contractor’s possible motivations

You can thus deal with very serious issues without closing down the dialogue

Ethical Business Relationship


Ethical business relationship5

Always talk about a problem with the other person before putting anything in writing

It will help you understand the other side of the issue and can save a lot of embarrassment and bad feelings

Ethical Business Relationship


Ethical business relationship6

Have limits, which you express up front, on your forbearance and hold to those limits

Also called “telegraphing your intentions”

Lets the Contractor know how far you will go – and he will test you

Ethical Business Relationship


Ethical business relationship7

If you then back slide – you will have undermined yourself

Talk about the limits at the start, and reach agreement, if you can –

But in any case, hold firm (Another teaching tool)

Ethical Business Relationship


Ethical business relationship8

Can be self-monitored and managed

Keep a decision diary: enter ea major decision /direction given for possible future review

Acts as a filter, helping you decide if you would be proud to have someone read the decision & perhaps your reasoning, say in a court of law

Mistakes happen. If you make one, apologize, apologize, apologize – and then correct it

Ethical Business Relationship


Making timely ethical defendable decisions

KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS – both technically and business-wise

Never be afraid to admit them & find the appropriate source of knowledge-your boss, another CM, the designer, etc.– QUICKLY

For a controversial issue, notify your boss & solicit their advice

Makes it a joint decision & prevents Contractor from trying an end run to get a different decision from those above you

Making Timely, Ethical, Defendable Decisions


Making timely ethical defendable decisions1

If an error occurs or something bad happens, recognize that it is NEVER smart, or proper to try and hide it

It NEVER gets better with age

The sooner you tell your boss, the sooner a solution can be found & the better you have protected him and those above him

If you have ideas on how to solve the problem, so much the better

Making Timely, Ethical, Defendable Decisions


Making timely ethical defendable decisions2

Making a decision:

i.d. what the decision must do

rank what might be nice to have, by importance

develop alternative solutions by brain storming – w/o judging… see which one best solves the problem

Making Timely, Ethical, Defendable Decisions


Making timely ethical defendable decisions3

Making a decision:

4. look ahead for future bad consequences if each decision is followed – rank them by how bad these are and the probability of them happening.

5. for the secondary consequences, determine preventions or mitigations to control them, should they happen

Making Timely, Ethical, Defendable Decisions


Making timely ethical defendable decisions4

Dispute w the Contractor:

Before writing a letter of direction, review the contract language & drawings yourself

Write down the contract words that support your view

Then the words that support his view

Making Timely, Ethical, Defendable Decisions


Making timely ethical defendable decisions5

Dispute w the Contractor:

When writing the direction letter, list each contract citation, both pro & con with your fair and reasonable conclusion based on each citation

You may find, in writing the letter, that you will have changed your mind because the contractor’s argument has more validity than yours

Making Timely, Ethical, Defendable Decisions


Making timely ethical defendable decisions6

Dispute w the Contractor:

If you are still convinced of your position then you will have a very well documented decision analysis and a very defendable decision

Use this information to advise your boss of your decision

Making Timely, Ethical, Defendable Decisions


Making timely ethical defendable decisions7

Dispute w the Contractor:

Even if subsequently, your boss or the Chief Engineer disagrees with you, your analysis will leave no doubt as to your reasoning

It will have allowed you to make the strongest arguments you could to gain support for your position, as well as protecting you during any higher level review

Making Timely, Ethical, Defendable Decisions


Making timely ethical defendable decisions8

Dispute w the Contractor:

Also, studying your superior’s reasons for the disagreement will teach you a great deal because you have done such a complete job of research

Again, before making a decision, ALWAYS read the contract or regulation words your self

Never rely on someone else’s interpretation

Making Timely, Ethical, Defendable Decisions


Making timely ethical defendable decisions9

If you have to make quick decisions – trust

your gut – this is your intuition talking

(your diary is your gut)

When in doubt, decide in favor of the better

job and safety

Decide against making it cheaper for the

Contractor w/o some benefit of equal

value for the Owner

Making Timely, Ethical, Defendable Decisions


Making timely ethical defendable decisions10

If you have time:

sleep on it

Write it down & forget about it for several days – your mind is working on it without let up

Making Timely, Ethical, Defendable Decisions


Making timely ethical defendable decisions11

Making time to plan ahead & setting priorities

Delegating many of your routine decision- making authorities to others does several wonderful things:

It creates quiet time for you

It provides training opportunities of your people

Making Timely, Ethical, Defendable Decisions


Making timely ethical defendable decisions12

If you make an agreement or commitment, KEEP IT. Unless you find, upon reflection that:

The commitment was flawed/incomplete /unethical

The agreement was unfair & the Owner would be disadvantaged

The agreement was unfair & the Owner would be taking advantage of the Contractor

Making Timely, Ethical, Defendable Decisions


Making timely ethical defendable decisions13

Decision Change:

Immediately explain to all parties your problem and reformulate the agreement/decision

Remember – to make a mistake in one thing

But not to admit it and then correct it, is another mistake

Making Timely, Ethical, Defendable Decisions


Making timely ethical defendable decisions14

In your decisions, don’t try to save the world

You cannot satisfy everyone

You live in & are only effective in, the realm of the possible

Pick your fights – don’t have them thrust upon you by the Contractor or by someone at or below your level – unless you want it (and then only if you know you can win)

Making Timely, Ethical, Defendable Decisions


Making timely ethical defendable decisions15

If your boss gives you the fight – then you’ve got to do it – as long as its legal and ethical

Explain to him any negative consequences you see before you start out

If he accepts these, then have at it

Recognize that he may be giving you the fight to see how you do and/or to stretch you

Making Timely, Ethical, Defendable Decisions


Making timely ethical defendable decisions16

Determine where you are before you start down any path

If someone asks a pointed question/makes an accusation – stop & think about the WHOLE process involved & where in that process this issue resides

Then, as you answer, you can first give this background, i.e. put the issue in context and then deal directly with the issue

Making Timely, Ethical, Defendable Decisions


Making timely ethical defendable decisions17

Many times, just explaining the context, settles the matter

Ask the “stupid” question if you don’t understand

There is no such thing as a stupid question – no matter how high a level you attain

Making Timely, Ethical, Defendable Decisions


Hiring developing ethical decision makers

Know your strengths & weaknesses & hire to support your weaknesses

Give your people the confidence & the permission to tell you when they think you’re wrong

Don’t bite their heads off – thank them and tell them you’ll consider their advice

Hiring & Developing Ethical Decision Makers


Hiring developing ethical decision makers1

Recognize that, the more decision-makers you have working for you, the more successful you will be

People who make decisions take ownership of them & expend great effort to make their decision come to fruition

Hiring & Developing Ethical Decision Makers


Hiring developing ethical decision makers2

Interviewing a new hire or promotion, look at:

past record of taking charge

taking ownership

trying to make their job more successful

taking on responsibilities above their job description

already doing the job they’re applying for

Hiring & Developing Ethical Decision Makers


Hiring developing ethical decision makers3

Interviewing for new hire or promotion:

Never hire someone w the hope that they may step up to the task but have no past history of being proactive

Hiring & Developing Ethical Decision Makers


Hiring developing ethical decision makers4

Once hired:

You must nurture these people

Give responsibility & authority & encourage them

Give them support thru training, advice & back- up

Gain their trust by not allowing a Contractor to out flank them and get you to reverse their decision without talking to them first

Hiring & Developing Ethical Decision Makers


Hiring developing ethical decision makers5

Once hired:

If you do have to reverse their decision, make sure they understand why & learn from it. Do this in private & allow them to reverse their own decision

Hiring & Developing Ethical Decision Makers


Hiring developing ethical decision makers6

Give your people increasingly responsible roles so they learn the whole business & can take your place when you get promoted because they did such a good job for you

Remember, as a boss your main and most important job is giving your people all the tools they need to be successful

Hiring & Developing Ethical Decision Makers


Hiring developing ethical decision makers7

Look at your boss as a customer and a decision-maker for you

Determine his strengths and weaknesses

Help him strengthen his weak areas by expressing your ideas as opportunities for him to be successful & by giving him information & support to make it happen

Hiring & Developing Ethical Decision Makers


Hiring developing ethical decision makers8

Don’t inadvertently pick up problems from your subordinates (or try & save them)

If they come to you with a problem: listen; ask questions to clarify only; repeat what they say to be sure you understand

Let them solve the problem as much as possible

Give advice only if asked

Make sure they leave w the problem & any connected actions

Hiring & Developing Ethical Decision Makers


Hiring developing ethical decision makers9

Mistakes & Admonitions – opportunities to teach. Smile. Assume an attitude toward the person of “I’m OK & you’re OK – you just made an error & here’s how to fix it”. Encourage them to tell their mistakes early & praise them for it

Atta boys – Celebrate all positive things your people do. Do it in front of their peers. People repeat what they get rewarded for

Hiring & Developing Ethical Decision Makers


The end

Thank you for your attention

You are now Ethical, Smart Construction executives

THE END


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