Solving the labor crisis continues to be priority number one for the construction industry.
We must find a way to pass along the knowledge held by our most experienced team members before it’s too late. The vast majority of our trained workforce is aging out and planning to retire soon. Mentorship programs might be the solution we need to train the next generation.
A mentor influences, guides and directs more junior-level professionals. These mentorships create the opportunity to transfer first hand advice from those who know the industry best to those who are just learning the ropes. Mentors give the less experienced the reassurance they need, knowing they have someone who has their best interest at heart and is committed to their success. These relationships support individuals’ growth and development and prepare them for the reality of the “real world” of specific careers. In fact, according to MENTOR, mentors help mentees:
- Become familiar with the job application process.
- Set career goals with tangible action steps.
- Network with industry professionals.
- Gain access to resources and organizations.
In addition to the impact mentors have on an individual, they have the ability to influence the industry as a whole. As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, with enough mentors dedicated to continuing their legacy, we could fill the current labor gap.
We must acknowledge that obtaining these great results does come with the risk for some challenges to arise along the way. It’s no surprise that skilled professionals with years of industry experience can get the job done faster on their own versus when they are coaching a more junior team member through a task. This delay can discourage organizations and individuals to establish mentorship programs, especially when client time constraints or project costs are top of mind. But to get our industry to where it needs to be, we must think beyond the immediate costs and keep our eyes set on the future gains.
How can you bring a mentorship program to your business?
- Design a program that fits your organization.
Consider what is unique to your firm and what role mentees might play on your team. After all, this mentorship can benefit your organization as much as it will help them by bringing more workers onsite and more opportunities for your existing employees to act as leaders. Talk with your team about things like the type of mentoring style, the duration of the program and the structure of connections on a day to day basis.
- Recruit highly motivated participants.
Promote the benefits of your program, both internally and externally, to get the best of the best working for you. Think about it this way: you could be training your future team.
- Pair intentionally for the best information exchange.
This step may require a bit of trial and error as you work to find the perfect matches. But we promise the extra effort will be worth it. Keep in mind, there may not be one perfect mentor/mentee relationship. We’ve found there to be a great benefit to having multiple mentors. Besides, new-to-the-industry individuals shouldn’t learn just one person’s method, no matter how great it ist.
- Support mentors and mentees along the way.
Chances are, the individuals involved in your mentorship program are first-timers. Don’t expect your experienced team members to be able to show how they do something as well as they do it. Give mentors the guidance they need to help their mentees succeed. And, don’t forget to take time to support mentees, too. Help them get the most out of the program by teaching them to be well-prepared for every day’s work, on time and eager to learn.
If you’re new to this whole mentorship thing, too, learn from two of our favorite mentorship organizations:
- ACE Mentor Program of America is an afterschool program with a mission to “engage, excite, and enlighten high school students to pursue careers in architecture, engineering, and construction.”
- (CMAA) Construction Management Association of America is “an industry association dedicated to the practice of professional construction management” with a goal to improve our nation’s infrastructure. CMAA is dedicated to educating
- Evaluate success at the end of the program.
With each class of mentors, review what worked and discuss what didn’t. That way, your program will continue to improve, which means you’ll make an even greater impact year after year.
As you’ve read, creating the opportunity for a quality mentoring experience will benefit all of us in the industry, from our most green team members of today to the future workforce. Let’s all commit to inspiring the next generation, for a more motivated and better equipped industry.