‘In safety, proactive ownership means courage to speak up’

Adam Harding

My name is Adam Harding, I am the Director of BAM Construct UK’s construction business in the South East of England.

To me, proactive ownership is a key quality of leadership. It’s about always wanting to fix things, always wanting to help others to fix things. Perhaps more importantly, it’s about always looking ahead to avoid having to fix things. And it’s not something that’s limited to people in management positions.

A culture where everyone takes ownership

In terms of safety, for instance, proactive ownership means you have the courage and ability to put your hand up and say: ‘This isn’t right, so we just need to stop.’ What we are trying to achieve is that we have a culture where everyone is able to do that, whether they are an engineer or the person standing at the gate.

Construction projects are driven by time, cost and quality, but a project that’s not operating safely is not a project we want at BAM in any of our business units or operating companies. So enabling all who work with us to take ownership and have the confidence to take responsibility is particularly important to me.

We can all make a difference

One way of helping to grow that culture is for me to share this message every time I go to see the people on a project. Of course I’m able to congratulate them on what what’s been done really well in the past. But we should always keep thinking too about what we can learn from each project, what challenges could be around the corner and how to prepare for them; that’s preventing problems through proactive ownership.

In construction, there are so many influences that can impact the plan, from designs and materials to people and even the weather. So it’s a case of never giving up when it comes to safety. My message to everyone within BAM wherever we work – on a site or in an office – is that we can all make a difference. Your safety is my safety.