By Dennis Quick, Senior Superintendent
When I visit job sites and talk with field personnel, I often hear comments like, “Trade partners are not as qualified as they used to be,” or “The drawings are not as good as we used to have.” This perception could be due, in part, to the economic downturn in 2008, which put a lot of our seasoned trade partners and designers, as well as general contractors, out of business. EVP Randall Curtis wrote about this (Developing Tomorrows Construction Workforce) back in the fall.
But my reaction to these comments isn’t that they are a challenge we have to address but a great opportunity to mentor. As a seasoned general contractor with 75-plus years of experience, it’s our responsibility to help change our industry for the better. One of the easiest ways to do this is to look for ways to mentor everyone who has a part on our projects.
Our Quality Assurance and Safety programs are a great starting point. These are core parts of how we work as a company and have been developed from knowledge and experience over many years of construction. We begin each project with a quality built-in approach and a drive to eliminate the hazards associated with a construction project. By teaching the proper use of these programs and the importance of using them, as well as following through with constant encouragement through mentoring, we can help others with their ongoing professional and personal growth, both on our job sites and in our offices.
When we see things that are not being installed correctly, obviously we have to correct them. But by taking the time to teach and mentor, we make the individual a more qualified worker and help that contractor be a better trade partner.
It is equally important for us to mentor our own personnel. We are constantly employing new people – some who have worked for other contractors and some who are just starting their careers in construction. Approximately 45 percent of our employees have been at Hoar five years or less! With the right encouragement and guidance, these new employees will eventually be leaders within our company and will be responsible for mentoring the next generation of builders.
Mentoring will increase productivity on a job and break down the silos that often hinder cooperation and lead to problems with quality and/or safety. But more importantly, mentoring will foster our culture of continuous education and improvement and ultimately make us a better partner in the industry ourselves.