‘We want positive people with a personality. We can do anything with that’

Gleeds Director, Chris Paxford, discusses what it’s like to be part of the project management team at Gleeds and the importance of having achieved the Association for Project Management accreditation.

Chris, as you head up project management, you are probably the best person to tell us what stands out for you about the team?

It really is the level of energy and commitment we have here within the Gleeds project management team. People really care about what they are doing and there is a tremendous will to improve things even further.

If you had to describe the Gleeds culture in 3 words, what would they be?

Professional, caring and fun.

When you look to recruit new employees, it’s often said that the person not only needs to have the right skills but they also have to be the ‘right fit’. What is the ‘right fit’ at Gleeds?

We have put a lot of effort into creating the ‘right’ environment, which we call the ‘Renewal Environment’. What that means is: we want people who are prepared to give their work energy and commitment but who also want to get along with their colleagues and clients.

It’s about people who care about doing a great job and are not satisfied with the status quo. Obviously technical skills are important but we can improve these through our training programme. The person, the personality and the approach are much more important for us... we can do anything with that.

It seems that leadership and making employees aware of changes is a large part of the model, do you have a certain set of behaviours for the project management leadership team?

We certainly do:

  • Talk straight
  • Demonstrate respect
  • Create transparency
  • Right wrongs
  • Show loyalty
  • Deliver results
  • Get better
  • Confront reality
  • Clarify expectations
  • Practice accountability
  • Listen first
  • Keep commitments
  • Extend trust

These are all taken from a Franklin Covey programme called ‘the Speed of Trust’, which is about how to engage and energise your people and to create a positive environment. All Directors have scored themselves against these behaviours and also our teams have scored us. It’s important to have a two-sided relationship with everyone in the team – as business leaders, we also need to know where we need to improve! We have also asked our people to make sure they let us know when they think we are not living by these behaviours in order to create a true team environment.

What is the importance of the APM accreditation for those working at Gleeds and those looking to join?

The APM Accreditation recognises our commitment to the development of our people in the skills of project management. To achieve it, we were assessed against the 5 dimensions of professionalism – breadth, depth, achievement, commitment and accountability.

However, this is just one aspect of our whole approach to the development of our people. We have established a much wider framework, including many Gleeds specific competencies that work alongside the APM competencies. This means that as well as developing our people in APM skills, we develop them in Gleeds skills too.

What the APM Accreditation has done is create a framework to allow us to lift our entire skillset, with an ongoing commitment to continuous improvement. It has particularly energised our younger members who are already pushing themselves forward in their career at Gleeds, and reinvigorated some of the more longstanding members of the team who are also coming forward with an interest in the higher APM standards.



Julian Barlow

Julian Barlow
PR Consultant