As workforce demographics and delivery methods change, so must leadership.
Many great leaders are change agents, skilled in managing and directing change. And much is changing in the construction industry, from the makeup of its workers to the technology and delivery methods used to complete projects.
In response to these shifts, leaders themselves are changing, embracing new approaches to management. Here are five trends of note.
Millennials, who will soon make up half the working population, and their younger colleagues, Gen Zers, crave feedback. They want to know how they’re doing. They also want to know that their work is appreciated. Managers are taking note and revamping their approaches to feedback to make sure the needs of these employees are met so they don’t go elsewhere.
Providing specific feedback often and in real time not only rewards good behavior but leverages teachable moments. It can also boost employee engagement and reduce turnover rates, according to Kim Ruyle, a member of the Society for Human Resources Management’s talent expertise panel.
If you’re not sure where to start, try praising an employee when they do something right instead of piping up only when they make a mistake.
Another rising trend is transparency. Forward-thinking leaders are sharing the company’s goals and the paths to achieving them so everyone’s on the same page. They are also making clear their expectations for each employee and outlining the possible routes to advancement so workers know where they can go in the company and how they might get there. Managers are more transparent with project information, too.
Good leaders are practicing more open communication to keep everyone informed and create both trust and accountability. They’re also fostering an environment in which employees can share their ideas. This not only helps keep employees engaged but can help teams solve problems and boost productivity.
Part of creating a culture of open communication is ensuring that employees can report their concerns without fear of retribution. Some managers are finding ways to praise employees who raise safety concerns and to share with the company any positive outcomes that result.
A focus on team building
These days, especially with the increasing prevalence of IPD projects and the increasing use of Lean methodologies, star players are becoming less important than strong teams. Leaders are building strong teams through a variety of approaches. A culture of open communication is one of them. Others include hiring for interpersonal skills, teambuilding exercises, increased training and two-way mentoring programs. The visual management of projects — essentially, posting project information, including key indicators, on a wall — also helps individuals function better together to meet project goals.
It’s one thing to hire an employee for a job; it’s another to create an environment in which that person can succeed, grow and fully contribute. Leaders in the construction industry are moving away from command-and-control tactics and focusing on empowering staff to solve problems. An essential aspect of empowering employees is providing the tools and training they need to excel. At many companies, employees are also granted the authority to stop work if they see a condition they deem hazardous.
Emily Canal is a staff writer for Inc. Magazine and has written for The New York Times, Boston Globe and Forbes Magazine.