Hello again everyone. Here we are at the end of the Holiday Season, this wonderful time of year when almost everyone’s spirits are up. We start the season with the Thanksgiving holiday whereby we give thanks for all of our blessings in life. Then we progress to Christmas where we show those around us how much we appreciate them by bestowing them with presents. The central theme of the Holiday Season is giving, whether it is thanks, or presents, we are in the giving mood this time of year.
Now you ask, what does giving have to do with this newsletter’s title of Mentorship?
Well, in my opinion Mentorship is the gift of our most precious assets – our skills, our knowledge, and most importantly our time. What better time to talk about giving of one’s time than now at the season of giving.
There are a couple of reasons that I chose the topic of mentorship to write about. First, as the construction industry is coming out of the coma of the past great recession, I am noticing that we as an industry have gotten older. The past 5 or 6 years have been difficult for everyone in our industry. We have all aged faster than we would have liked, and definitely faster than we really will admit to. During these years, our focus was on survival first and foremost, followed by attempts at profitability, and at a very, very distant third was the idea of “re-loading” our organizations, our companies, and our industry. The industry has lost a lot of people in all areas, both field and management. With these folks we have also lost an incredible amount of knowledge. The construction marketplace seems to be picking up and we will need to “re-load” rapidly. We will have to get young people into and excited about the construction industry, and we will have to pass on 20, 30, and 40 years of our experiences in a very short time span. We will not have the luxury of waiting for the next generation to mature on their own, we will have to help them mature, learn, and understand what we know in less than half of the time that it took us.
How can we make this happen, Mentorship! All of us who have been in the industry more than a couple of years can be a mentor to someone. We as leaders in the construction industry need to recruit great new talent on all levels of our organizations. Then mentor, educate, and advise them on how to be the future leaders of our industry. True leaders are secure with themselves. They have confidence in their own abilities, and they do not feel that their job would be in jeopardy if they helped develop new young talent.
The second reason to write about mentorship is that this is the project I personally will be working on in the next several years myself. As many of you know, I am involved in numerous industry associations, advisory committees, and joint trust funds. In many cases, when I first got involved in each of these organizations I was the youngest member of the group. Now as the years have flown by, I look at each organization and in some instances I am the “seasoned” member. Unfortunately in some cases, I am still the youngest member. In most cases, when I first got involved it took months and sometimes years to understand the group’s purpose and direction, and most importantly the group’s dynamics. If only I had someone sitting next to me explaining what the hell the discussion was about. If only I had a mentor!
A couple of months ago I agreed to return to be a board member of the Finishing Trades Institute, which is the International Painter’s Union apprenticeship board. I had served on this board for numerous years prior and left to fulfill other industry association commitments. When I agreed to come back there would be one condition. I would serve one three year term, and in the second and third years there would be my successor (a younger person) attending every meeting with me as a non-voting member. This way, I can spend time explaining everything that takes place in these one to two day committee meetings. I can mentor my successor so that he or she will be able to actively participate when it is their turn to step up. Starting this year, I will also be making these requests of the other boards and committees that I sit on. It is my intent to mentor and train our next group of industry leaders. It is my turn to start to consistently pass on the knowledge that I have gained over the last thirty something years.
Now, my challenge to all of you, our industry leaders – start an active mentorship program within your own organizations. The construction industry has provided us with rewarding and successful careers. We have achieved a lot. Now, we owe it to this industry to “re-load” the talent pool, mentor them to be great stewards of our industry, and to leave this industry in as good as or better shape than we received it in.
As always, thank you for reading, Work Safe, Work Hard, and Have Fun!
I hope that everyone had a Merry Christmas and I wish you a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!